In many divorce cases, we see some form of domestic violence. And it’s not just physical violence. It is sexual assault, psychological assault and attacks on property and pets.
Surveys in the U.S. and Canada show that domestic violence occurs in 28 percent of all marriages. In Hall County, one in four women is affected by domestic violence. Most researchers think that those numbers are too low because most domestic violence incidents go unreported.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We want to take a moment to discuss how technology can play a role in domestic violence as one spouse tries to control another.
There are spyware applications available that were not designed for an abusive spouse to keep tabs on their victim but they are used that way. The abuser can download the app on their spouse’s phone. These apps are not noticeable and allow the abuser to know where the victim is through GPS. They are also able to monitor phone calls, emails, text messages and social media accounts.
Here are some tips we tell our clients to try to keep their abusers from finding them when they use their cell phones or social media.
• Keep location services off
• Do not check in at different locations
• Keep passwords private
• Check out the privacy settings of social media networks and make sure it’s set to the level of privacy you want.
• Turn off Bluetooth when not using
• Don’t post any personal information about others
o Phone number
o Full name
o E-mail address
• Don’t share passwords
If you are the friend of a domestic violence victim, do not tag them in photos without their permission – you never know who might be looking for them. Also, do not tag your location while with them. There are apps such as Aspire News, OneLove My Plan, Circle of 6 and the National Network to End Domestic Violence app that can assist domestic violence victims. They are security apps that allow you to contact friends, law enforcement to send a message and your location, and help you access the safety of your relationship.
In Hall County, Gateway Domestic Violence Center has an emergency shelter for women and children fleeing dangerous situations to stay in the short term. It also has transitional apartments for women and children to live rent free for a few months while they save money for a home of their own. Gateway can assist in obtaining a temporary protective order.
Counseling is available. There are group meetings for women who have been victims of domestic violence and for their children who have witnessed domestic violence. The domestic violence statewide hotline is 1-800-334-2836 (1-800-33-Haven). You will be connected to a domestic violence center that serves the area where you live.