In this digital era, the importance of staying safe and responsible with the use of technology when you have a snooping or abusive spouse cannot be overemphasized. Whether you’re currently in an abusive relationship or have an abusive ex-spouse, the impact of technology in improving or worsening the situation is virtually boundless.
From integrating spyware into spouses’ mobile devices to simply using the GPS on these devices for monitoring, there’s really no limit to how technology can be used by a snooping spouse. This article aims to explore some practical tips on how partners can remain safe with the use of technology especially with regards to preventing snooping from an abusive spouse.
Practical tips for staying safe in an abusive relationship
Just as there have been numerous benefits of technology over the years in helping victims of abusive relationships escape, there have also been advancements in the way abusive spouses prey on their partners. The following highlights some of the key areas that can be exploited by a snooping or abusive spouse as they attempt to exercise some control over the other.
Take nothing for granted
Dealing with domestic abuse from a spouse can be very unpredictable and dangerous so it’s best to take nothing for granted. If you suspect your partner or ex may be snooping on your private life through your tech gadgets like phones and tablets, you should immediately start making plans for your safety. Abusive partners can be quite persistent and even creative in finding new ways to monitor you via technology so trust your instincts and plan ahead.
It’s important to note that hacking another person’s device without their express permission is a criminal offence. The Electronics Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) strictly prohibits a wide range of electronics eavesdropping or snooping via technology. This applies to spouses and ex-spouses alike.
Change your computer
This may seem like a drastic move but if you suspect that your partner is spying on your web activities on your laptop, they may have installed a spyware which mirrors all your activities on the device. It’s worth pointing out once again that without their permission, hacking into a spouse’s computer is outrightly illegal and a breach of the Electronics Communications Privacy Act. This unfortunately does not mean your spouse may not try.
Possible solutions to this include formatting (erasing) the entire laptop to restore it to factory condition and also installing a reputable anti-virus application to flush out any spyware or keylogger on your computer.
Furthermore, If you can afford getting a new computer, do so. If not, using a computer at your local library may be your most suitable option. This is even more important if you’re looking for a new home or making other plans to keep yourself safe online.
Create complex passwords for email and social media accounts
If you’ve been with your abusive partner for a long time, the chances are that they’ll probably have a clue about your passwords on your email and social media accounts. The best solution around this is to change your passwords on all your accounts to a more complex one. If possible, use different passwords for different accounts. This will ensure that your snooping partner cannot monitor your email or social media activities.
Check your mobile phones
If you currently use a mobile phone on a shared family plan, be mindful that the monthly bill will show your outgoing calls which may give your abusive partner an idea as to who you’re calling and possibly your plans towards safety. The easiest way around this may be to get a prepaid mobile phone for this purpose. Anyone with permission to access your phone will certainly have access to your text messages so it’s important to also take note of this when planning for safety.
Furthermore, you should also check your phone’s settings to ensure you’re not sharing your location with anyone else. You should also consider temporarily turning off your location service on the device. Apps like Whatsapp allow users to view their messages via a computer browser so check this out to ensure your partner has not activated the feature to monitor your conversations.
Whether it’s in the form of threatening or abusive messages or any other form of abuse, recording credible evidence will go a long way in determining how a court case or investigation against your partner turns out. Evidence may also be useful when applying for a restraining order in the future. If you haven’t done so already, report any form of abuse you have received to the Police and allow them to assist you in your plans for safety.
If you’ve received any threatening messages from your spouse or ex-spouse, ensure you record these events or incidents whether by taking screenshots of the messages or storing the messages on your device. This is important as evidence of this nature can be instrumental towards expediting your plans for safety or securing a restraining order against your spouse.
If you have a car, you should also check for any gadgets within it that may be transmitting your location. Gadgets like iPads, Smart Watches and other similar electronics usually have GPS transmitters within them that could be exploited for snooping.
Seek legal assistance
Regardless of any actions or steps you may have taken to ensure your safety, getting legal advice regarding your abuse is an utmost necessity not just for but also for any children present. Apart from domestic abuse, cyber stalking on its own is recognized in the US as a criminal offense punishable by conviction so be sure to report all threats and cyber monitoring not just to the Police but to your Legal Counsel.