This morning, as I sit here watching Shrek Forever After with Uriel before we’re tortured, I mean, we take on seventh-grade math (look, I am quite good with math…but I don’t enjoy it), I received an alert on my phone:

–something something something reminder that you’re sharing the photos on your phone with one account: husband’s email address. We care about your privacy.–

I don’t know what the alert would look like from an Apple phone. I’d like to think that Apple does such a thing. I want to get my thoughts out before researching this. Should I forget, perhaps I’ll come back, research, and opine upon that at another time. With that said, I use a lesser known Android-supported phone brand that an acquaintance introduced me to probably…seven or eight years ago. My particular phone is about a year old. So is my husband’s phone. We bought these newer models about a month apart, cash.

My husband and I recently celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary!

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Before us, I was in a marriage that was fraught with domestic violence. When it ended, it birthed a situation of stalking, both online and off. Unfortunately for me and yet also fortunately for so many others, I learned a lot that I can pass on.

Check Your Gmail, DropBox, iCloud, & Social Media Settings

Gmail attaches you to Google Drive. While Google Drive itself sets your email, Drive, Documents, and other uploads to private, your phone or tablet could prompt you to “automatically back up” videos and photos. And, initially, this seems like a smart idea. I mean, after all, it’s one less thing to do – upload things, right?

However, if you’re in a relationship with stalking and domestic violence, you’re providing someone with instant access to you and possibly your whereabouts and information about anyone you may be with. This isn’t me blaming you. I don’t victim blame. This is me hopefully helping you stay safe by providing you with information.

In fact, I can say the same if they have access to anything in your Dropbox or Google Drive or Docs. If you’re storing screenshots or notes there and that person has access to them, you can almost guarantee that they’ll get altered or deleted. Triple check who has access to these sites and change all of your passwords. Change the password to your email! Do not include that person’s name and the word “sucks,” “fuck,” “you,” “bitch,” “loser,” or anything else that is derogatory. They’ll try it or they have an app…guess what? They’ll figure it out. Give copies of these things to someone you know, without a doubt, you can trust. And this doesn’t need to be someone you’re related to or someone your ex knows, either.

For social media, email, and any cloud app, use an authenticator app. Yes, I know – you shouldn’t have to take all the extra steps. Look, back when I went through all the things, the average thought was those of us going through it should just delete our accounts. So, believe me when I say that I know you shouldn’t need to do extra “things” and people should just be good people.

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No, it’s just the reality of the situation.

And, again, I say that having lived it.

Regardless of gender, sex, and sexuality, if you are in a relationship with stalking and domestic violence:

  1. If you’re the one constantly thinking the other person is doing something and you’re constantly on their social media, trying to trick or trap them, constantly accusing, attempting to get into their email(s), and you generally resemble the plot of a Steve Wilkos, Maury, or the late, great (you watched him, too, don’t lie) Jerry Springer, then you probably do need some kind of help. It is very likely you could be projecting your activities onto your partner. Please note that I said could be. That’s an opinion from a lay person and not a professional. If you and your partner are constantly fighting, yelling, and screaming (and/or hitting, pushing, slapping regardless of gender and/or sexuality), that is abuse. Whether it can or will be proven in court is another matter both civilly if there is a marriage/domestic partnership and/or criminal (TPO/VPO/DV/SA/and so on).
  2. If you are on the receiving end of the stalking and domestic violence, you need a safety plan. You need help. It is very helpful if you get an advocate. Advocates are free. They are available regardless of whether you’ve reported the abuse. Is it helpful if you’ve reported before? Yes. Is it necessary? No. I didn’t start reporting until closer to the end of my previous marriage. I have stories about it, but let’s say that it went over like a lead balloon with the “WhY dIdN’T yOU rEpORt SoOnER?” crowd. It didn’t matter in the end. I received the protection order. Look up your state along with the words “domestic violence help.” Yes, help is available if you’re a man. If you’re a man, I urge you to report. While domestic violence is thought of as a woman’s issue, we also know it is vastly under-reported by men. And it makes sense by the cultural “standards” here in the US. I am not saying I support that, by the way. Men should report. And, unfortunately, they will be treated and looked at just like women who are victims by the police.

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