The use of modern technology has increased abusers' abilities to monitor and track their partners' activities. If you are not sure if someone is monitoring you, trust your instincts, especially if your abuser seems to know too much about your activities or things you have only told to a few people. Stalking is a crime in New York State. There are four counts of stalking under the law depending on the stalker's behavior. Common stalking behavior includes:
- Following you or showing up wherever you are
- Driving by or hanging out near your home, school, or workplace
- Repeatedly calling you, including hang-ups
- Sending you unwanted letters, cards, e-mails, or gifts
- Monitoring your phone calls or computer use
- Damaging your home, car, or other property
- Taking other actions that control, track, or frighten you
While some stalkers' behavior may not seem dangerous or threatening to an outsider, stalking is serious and should be treated that way. If you are being stalked, it is important to keep a record of what is happening. This can become useful evidence if you decide to get help from the police or court. Every time something happens, you should record:
- The date of the incident
- The time of the incident
- A description of the incident
- The location of the incident
- Any witnesses, including their names, addresses, and phone numbers
These days, most people have a cell phone. It can be a link to safety. On the other hand, an abuser can use it as a tool to listen to your calls and track your whereabouts. Most phones come with services or options to do this, such as: Caller ID, Call logs, Call Return Service, Last Number Dialed, Global Positioning System (GPS), Silent Mode and Auto Answer. Traditional "corded" phones are usually safer than other kinds of phones. Think of these things as you plan for your safety. Consider options such as leaving your cell phone behind if you leave or getting another phone on a new account.
If the abuser has access to your computer, the stalker can see what websites you have gone to and read your e-mail. Abusers can also monitor computer activities without being there by using keystroke logging technology or spying software. These send a report to the abuser's computer of all the activity that has taken place on your computer. Be aware that changing passwords or erasing history could make the abuser suspicious. To be safe, use a computer at a library, community center, internet café, workplace, or a trusted friends' house when you need to look for help or plan to escape.
Hidden cameras, such as "Nanny Cams," are cheap and easy to get, Abusers can easily hide a camera to monitor your actions. These cameras can be very small and will often appear as everyday objects. Even a baby monitor can be used for listening to conversations.
Global Positioning System (GPS) devices are affordable, small and can be easily hidden. An abuser can hide a GPS device in your car, jewelry, purse, shoes, and other objects that you carry with you. If you find an object you think may be a GPS device, do not remove it. Call the police.
Technology is constantly changing and evolving. For the most up-to-date information on technology safety, visit The Safety Net Project: www.nnedv.org/SafetyNet.