Sanctuary for the Abused
Friday, February 23, 2018
Myths About Domestic Violence
MYTH: Battering is only a momentary loss of temper. FACT: Battering is the use of violence and other forms of abuse to establish control and power in a relationship. One in five female victims reports having been battered over and over again by the same person.
MYTH: Stress causes battering.
FACT: Obviously some batterers experience stress, but stress does not cause abuse. Many men under severe stress do not batter. Even if the practitioner helps the batterer reduce his stress, the violence will continue or eventually resume because the batterer still feels entitled to assault his partner.
MYTH: Drugs and alcohol cause the violence.FACT: Addictions are used as excuses to free the batterer from responsibility for the behavior. This theory does not explain why the batterer uses violence, why he targets a woman for abuse, nor why he batters when sober. The addictive batterer must be treated for two separate problems--his addiction and his violence. He will not necessarily stop battering if he gains control over his addiction.
MYTH: Battered women provoke the violence.
FACT: Any woman can find herself battered. The victim is not at fault but rather the batterer, the partner who has committed a crime. No one can be responsible for another person's deliberate choices and actions. Domestic violence victims, however, frequently hear comments from their abusers like, "I did it for your own good," or from outsiders, "you must have really made him mad." These statements can confuse a woman and lead her to take responsibility for the violence or blame herself. No matter what, domestic violence is not the victim's fault.
MYTH: Only women are victims of domestic violence.
FACT: Approximately 95% of those battered are women; however, in a small number of cases, women are the batterers and their male partners, the victims.
MYTH: The problem is couples assaulting each other.
FACT: Again, nearly ninety-five percent of victims are women. Although some women are violent to their partners--often even in self-defense-- it is impossible to understand battering by counting up the number of times one person hits another. Domestic violence is a pattern of abuse in the attempt to increase power and control.
MYTH: Domestic violence occurs only in poor urban areas.FACT: Women of all cultures, races, occupations, incomes, and ages are battered by husbands, lovers, boyfriends, and partners. One in four pregnant women has a history of partner abuse.
MYTH: Domestic violence is a push, a slap, or a punch and does not produce serious injuries.FACT: Battered women are often severely injured and even murdered. Between 22% and 35% of women who visit emergency rooms are there for injuries related to ongoing partner abuse.
MYTH: It is easy for a battered woman to leave her abuser.FACT: Women who leave their abuser are at 75% greater risk of being killed by the abuser than those who stay. Nationally, 50% of homeless women and children are on the street because of violence in their home.
MYTH: Domestic violence does not affect children.FACT: Child abuse occurs in up to 70% of the homes where domestic violence occurs. When a parent is victimized by domestic violence, children are abused at a rate 15 times the national average.
MYTH: After a woman leaves an abusive partner, the abuse stops.FACT: Separated women are three times more likely than divorced women, and 25 times more likely than married women living with their husbands, to be victimized by a batterer. Batterers frequently take advantage of court-ordered visitation to inflict harm on their former partners and their children.
MYTH: Batterers who seek custody do so out of love for their children and a desire to be good parents.
FACT: Custody litigation frequently becomes a vehicle whereby batterers attempt to extend or maintain their control and authority over the abused parent after separation. Fathers who battered the mother are twice as likely to seek sole physical custody for their children than are non-violent fathers.
MYTH: Allegations of child abuse increase significantly in divorce and custody disputes; women frequently fabricate allegations of abuse to hurt their former partner or to gain an advantage in custody disputes.FACT: Allegations of child sexual abuse are rare, occurring in only 2-3% of all divorce cases and fewer than 10% of custody cases. Less than 1/2 of all allegations of abuse against fathers are made by the child's mother, most are made by third parties. Allegations of child sexual abuse are not more likely to be false when made during custody/divorce proceedings than when made at other times.
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Porn: One Man's Shame
from: Diane Herceg, Texas
to: United States Justice Department Commission on Pornography
My son, Troy Daniel Dunaway, was murdered on August 6, 1981 by the greed and avarice of the publishers of Hustler magazine.
Hustler magazine published the article "Orgasm of Death" in its 1981 edition. Its publishers edited the article, illustrated the article, distributed the article and even mailed the article to my home address. The article graphically depicted autoerotic asphyxiation. I have attached a copy of the article to this letter. At the time, Hustler knew or should have known that the magazine would end up in the hands of youth under the age of 18 and children. Their own surveys showed that a portion of their mail subscribers were under the age of 18, and that the vast majority of the homes to which the magazines were mailed had children in the home.
My son read the article "Orgasm of Death", set up the sexual experiment depicted therein, followed the explicit instructions of the article, and ended up dead. He would still be alive today were he not enticed and incited into this action by Hustler magazine's "How To Do" August 1981 article; an article which was found at his feet and which directly caused his death.
I feel these magazines should not be sold anywhere because most people do not care who buys them and will sell them to anyone just to make money. Even if only adults buy them, they are in homes where young people can see them. Most magazine publishers will print anything just to sell the magazines; not caring what happens or who gets hurt or killed, or how many families are nearly destroyed by the effects of losing a child or a family member.
I think the government should step in and put a stop to all pornography before any more lives and families are destroyed. I hope that the government will accept its responsibility in putting these peddlers of smut and death out of business forever.
When I found my cousin's hidden stash of soft-core pornography a few weeks after being molested by an older boy at church camp, my emotional ground was broken enough for those seeds to sink deep and grow quickly into a devastating force in my life.
I began to introduce other boys to pornography. I spent as much time over at his house as I could. When my cousins stash of material was no longer titillating, I began to frequent liquor stores that sold pornography. No one at the stores seemed to mind my looking at the magazines I bought them when I could, and when I couldn't; I would steal them, and sell the pictures at school. I quickly learned that the more graphic and explicit the photos, the more money I made. This began a slow progression from the "men's magazine" pornography which I had encountered at my uncles to the hardest types of pornography I could find at the liquor stores. Several other boys became my "buddies" in these escapades. We would dare each other too ever more risky attempts to steal pornography. Often, one of us would occupy the person at the counter so the others could steal what we wanted. The thrill of this risk was intoxicating to me.
But even this thrill wasn't enough after a while, The pictures in the magazines got old, and I began to look for graphic, explicit images. To get the same high I had received in viewing the softer images of women. After a while pornography still seemed to lack the punch it once had, so I began to look for more real and dangerous ways to satisfy my desires.
I began to experiment with voyeurism, watching girl's undress through holes in the wall or windows, or sneaking into the girl's showers. I would literally do anything to see a girl's nude body. Watching girls undress was like having the pictures of my porn fantasies come to life. The tragedy was that my pornography habit kept me totally alienated from any real relationship with girls. I found it difficult to relate to real girls, who didn't behave like the girls in pornography, I didn't have girlfriends, because the girls I met or dated reacted with fear and disgust to my pornography-inspired advances toward them.
Pornography had taught me that the way to be accepted and loved was through sex, but in reality my obsession with sex brought me only alienation, loneliness, and shame. All this continued to escalate moving into harder and harder material and more risky episodes through my high school years until finally a crucial experience motivated me into a recommitment to my Higher Power.
I dropped my pornography habit cold immediately. I opened my own roofing business to support my self as I was going to college, and I met this wonderful woman at the college. After a 9-month period of dating, we got married. I firmly believed that I had turned my life around. I didn't view pornography, nor do any unhealthy sexual activity. But the injury my life had been subjected to had not been dealt with or healed properly, I was like a man walking around on a badly healed broken leg. There was a fundamental weakness only waiting for an unusual stress for another break to occur.
That stress occurred eighteen months after my marriage.
My wife was pregnant with our first child, and because of her symptoms and reaction to the pregnancy, our sexual relationship began to evaporate. As I tried to deal with the mounting stress in our marriage, I was driving past an adult bookstore one day, and my sexual frustration nagged me into going inside.
It's difficult to describe my reaction to my first visit to a hard-core adult bookstore. I was deeply shocked and disgusted at the material I saw there. I was ashamed of myself and promised myself never to go into a place like that again. But the sight of this hard-core material and my shame at being there was also like a sudden injection of some incredible drug straight into my veins. In an awful way, it excited me tremendously. And in spite of my vow to myself, I found that as my relationship with my wife worsened, I went back there - again and again. Using the pornography as a drug to numb the pain of a struggling marriage.
Just as it had in high school, my pornography addiction began to consume more and more of my time. I found reasons and excuses to visit the store for more, and more hours every day. My business began to suffer as much as my marriage. I would hide money from my wife to spend on pornography; finally, I was finally forced into bankruptcy. Still my habit progressed.
Since I went to pornography in the first place to escape, the pain of bankruptcy only increased my need for the escape of pornography. And then came a move to California, and things got better for a time. It's difficult to explain completely, but at each critical time in the progression of my addiction, I felt I was being given providential opportunities - chances to stop, and turn myself around.
But I didn't take them, I was too afraid to let anyone see the real me. I was convinced that if someone saw the real me, the one that struggled with all this evil stuff, they would find me dirty, disgusting, and would have no other choice, but to reject, abandon me. The move to California was a chance like that. For several months, I tried to commit myself to making a new start for my family and business.
Then one day my business carried me to an area where there were sexually oriented bookstores and I fell completely back into my addiction, picking up where I had left off. It became such an easy way out. I felt that I was too dirty to love, inadequate as a man, father, husband and that no woman could accept me and love me. In my pornographic fantasies, those needs for love and acceptance were seemingly met.
Once again, my addiction drew me into more and more graphic and even violent material. Gradually, I found a growing interest in sadistic pornography. In the ever-increasing violence of my fantasies, I found an outlet for my anger at all the rejection I had faced from women all my life, which wouldn't love me or meet my needs. Pornography and violence are woven together, as to say sex, anger, power, and violence should be a part of the same experience.
Porn glamorized the violence.
As my mental scenarios demanded more graphic expression, I gravitated to more and more twisted and violent pornographic images. This material that once would have nauseated me, now have become my fantasy. I want make it clear here, before I proceed with the final stages of my addiction, that pornography never FORCED me to make these choices. But at each stage, as pornography began to have longer and more influential contact with my life, my ability to resist the compulsion for it grew less and less until I was seemingly powerless to resist it. I now found myself in this helpless situation.
I remember times when I would drive by a liquor store that sold pornography and force myself, with all of my willpower and every ounce of my mental strength to drive on past . . . only to find myself involuntarily turning around and returning to the store to buy pornography. By this time, images on paper and film were beginning to lose their power to satisfy me. Increasingly, I craved the "real thing"; it started out with going to a strip tease joints.
Just as with the bookstore, my first visit left me shocked at myself. I left promising never to return again! But I was soon back, spending hours and hours watching the girls. From there I progressed to massage parlors, and finally to using prostitutes. Just as at each step before, what was at first shocking and repulsive became easier and easier to accept. In fact, it was the shock and repulsion that gave me that "rush" I craved. And I craved it more and more. I would arrange phony business trips to cover my activities, and I would hide or even steal money to cover the costs of my habits. I laid out elaborate plans to keep myself from being suspected or caught.
Even in my own mind I lived a double life. My public life was commendable, but the fruit of my private life was full of bitterness and pain. This pain only increased as I made futile attempts to draw closer to my wife sexually. I thought that the way for us to be close was for us to have a better sex life. I was hoping she would be like the women of my pornographic fantasies, she naturally responded with revulsion.
Ironically, I even tried to "spiritualize" my requests by appealing to distorted biblical ideas about her duty of "submission", that her body belongs to her husband, and that it was her responsibility to meet my needs sexually. But again my attempts at this kind of closeness only ended in more alienation and anger. As this anger was building, I found that even my visits to prostitutes didn't dissipate the rage inside me.
More and more, I found myself fantasizing about satisfying myself and venting my rage at the same time. I deserved love, and if I can't get it through the natural channels, then I will have to take it. I began to entertain thoughts of raping a woman. At first, it seemed only like a game. I would make intricate plans in my mind about how I would do it without being caught. Then I began to do "trial runs" of a rape.
I would visit dark parking lots around department stores at night and follow women home. Then I would sneak into the back yard to watch them undress through the window. These games, became real, intricate "trial runs'' of a rape. But always something stopped me. It remained, for the moment, a game. But an ever more serious game. Finally, as I was getting out of my car at a racquetball club. I saw a woman walking to her car alone in the dark parking lot. She fit my perfect woman fantasy; she was the one of my dreams. Something inside me said this is your chance, she's yours", and my game became reality. I followed her to her car and asked directions as I positioned myself in front of her open car door, then I lunged at her, and forced my way into her car, my hands on her throat.
Terrified, she asked me what I was going to do to her. I told her. All I saw as I looked into her eyes was fear. Those that shocked me like a someone had hit me with a baseball bat, and woke me up. Suddenly, with my hands around her throat, I realized what was happening - how far I had come down a horrible road. I came to the sickening realization that I had intended to kill this woman, if necessary, to keep my terrible secret.
Reeling from the shock of my awakening, I released her, muttered something about having made "a mistake", and walked in a daze straight to my car. I need to emphasize that not until that moment, when I was a razor's edge away from killing someone, was I finally forced to admit that I had a terrible, uncontrollable problem. Up until that time, even though my will was being increasingly sapped by my addiction, I had still managed to lie to myself. Now the truth descended on my like an avalanche. Once the truth was out, it pursued me relentlessly.
Naturally, the woman had seen me walk to my car and taken my license number. As I was home beginning to open my secret up to my wife, the police came to my door and arrested me. After that came time in jail. I tried to defend myself by pointing to my sterling reputation in the community. This was just a onetime occurrence, my attorney argued. And so I was given a lenient sentence. Unlike problems such as alcoholism, my problems with pornography and sex were the type of sin that unspoken rules prevented openly discussing - or forgiving. I became a spiritual "leper" and found little support from some of my former "friends".
Little wonder, then, that I didn't "confess" my entire pornography problem. I was still playing a game of damage control, and I revealed as little as possible. I bitterly regretted having been caught. But it was not the process that led to my personal catastrophe. Naturally, the strain on my marriage, already near the breaking point, reached a critical stage during, the aftermath of the rape attempt. In a last-ditch effort to save my marriage, I took my wife on a getaway to Santa Barbara, CA only to find us in a hot and bitter fight.
Deep in my heart, I still resented the rejection I felt from everyone, especially my wife. In a self-justifying tirade I rehearsed to myself how my entire problem had really been my wife's fault. "If only she had met my needs," I thought. "If only she had totally accepted me, I wouldn't have had to look elsewhere." I believed that if a woman kept her husband sexually satisfied he wouldn't be looking outside the home.
But at that moment, a door cracked open and lighted up the first step on the road to freedom to control my own life again.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Trauma: Emotional & Psychological
Trauma. The word brings to mind the effects of such major events as war, rape, kidnapping, abuse, torture, or other similar assault. The emotional aftermath of such events, recognized by the medical and psychological communities, and increasingly by the general public, is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Now there is a new field of investigation that is less familiar, even to professionals: emotional or psychological trauma.
What is emotional or psychological trauma?
The ability to recognize emotional trauma has changed radically over the course of history. Until rather recently psychological trauma was noted only in men after catastrophic wars. The women's movement in the sixties broadened the definition of emotional trauma to include physically, verbally, emotionally and sexually abused women and children. Now because of the discoveries made in the nineties known as the decade of the brain, psychological trauma has further broadened its definition.
Recent research has revealed that emotional trauma can result from such common occurrences as the breakup of a significant relationship, a relationship with a pathological person or having a pathological parent, a humiliating or deeply disappointing experience, the discovery of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition, or other similar situations. Traumatizing events can take a serious emotional toll on those involved, even if the event did not cause physical damage.
Regardless of its source, an emotional trauma contains three common elements:
- it was unexpected;
- the person was unprepared; and
- there was nothing the person could do to prevent it from happening.
It is not the event that determines whether something is traumatic to someone, but the individual's experience of the event. And it is not predictable how a given person will react to a particular event. For someone who is used to being in control of emotions and events, it may be surprising – even embarrassing – to discover that something like a breakup or car accident can be so debilitating.
What causes emotional or psychological trauma?
Our brains are structured into three main parts, long observed in autopsies:
- the cortex (the outer surface, where higher thinking skills arise; includes the frontal cortex( the most recently evolved portion of the brain)
- the limbic system (the center of the brain, where emotions evolve)
- the brain stem (the reptilian brain that controls basic survival functions)
These scans reveal that trauma actually changes the structure and function of the brain, at the point where the frontal cortex, the emotional brain and the survival brain converge.
A significant finding is that brain scans of people with relationship or developmental problems, learning problems, and social problems related to emotional intelligence reveal similar structural and functional irregularities to those resulting from PTSD.
What is the difference between stress and emotional or psychological trauma?
One way to tell the difference between stress and emotional trauma is by looking at the outcome – how much residual effect an upsetting event is having on our lives, relationships, and overall functioning.
Traumatic distress can be distinguished from routine stress by assessing the following:
- how quickly upset is triggered
- how frequently upset is triggered
- how intensely threatening the source of upset is
- how long upset lasts
- how long it takes to calm down
If we can communicate our distress to people who care about us and can respond adequately, and if we return to a state of equilibrium following a stressful event, we are in the realm of stress. If we become frozen in a state of active emotional intensity, we are experiencing an emotional trauma – even though sometimes we may not be consciously aware of the level of distress we are experiencing.
Why can an event cause an emotionally traumatic response in one person and not in another?
There is no clear answer to this question, but it is likely that one or more of these factors are involved:
- the severity of the event;
- the individual's personal history (which may not even be recalled);
- the larger meaning the event represents for the individual (which may not be immediately evident);
- coping skills, values and beliefs held by the individual (some of which may have never been identified); and
- the reactions and support (or lack of...) from family, friends, and/or professionals.
Anyone can become traumatized. Even professionals who work with trauma, or other people close to a traumatized person, can develop symptoms of "vicarious" or "secondary" traumatization.
Developing symptoms is never a sign of weakness.
Symptoms should be taken seriously and steps should be taken to heal, just as one would take action to heal from a physical ailment. And just as with a physical condition, the amount of time or assistance needed to recover from emotional trauma will vary from one person to another.
What are the symptoms of emotional trauma?
There are common effects or conditions that may occur following a traumatic event. Sometimes these responses can be delayed, for months or even years after the event. Often, people do not even initially associate their symptoms with the precipitating trauma. The following are symptoms that may result from a more commonplace, unresolved trauma, especially if there were earlier, overwhelming life experiences:
- Eating disturbances (more or less than usual)
- Sleep disturbances (more or less than usual)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Low energy
- Chronic, unexplained pain
- Depression, spontaneous crying, despair and hopelessness
- Panic attacks
- Compulsive and obsessive behaviors
- Feeling out of control
- Lashing out at friends, family
- Irritability, angry and resentment
- Emotional numbness
- Withdrawal from normal routine and relationships
- Memory lapses, especially about the trauma
- Difficulty making decisions
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Feeling distracted
- Re-experiencing the Trauma
- intrusive thoughts
- flashbacks or nightmares
- sudden floods of emotions or images related to the traumatic event
- Emotional Numbing and Avoidance
- avoidance of situations that resemble the initial event
- guilt feelings
- grief reactions
- an altered sense of time
- hyper-vigilance, jumpiness, an extreme sense of being "on guard"
- overreactions, including sudden unprovoked anger
- general anxiety
- obsessions with death
What are the possible effects of emotional trauma?
Even when unrecognized, emotional trauma can create lasting difficulties in an individual's life. One way to determine whether an emotional or psychological trauma has occurred, perhaps even early in life before language or conscious awareness were in place, is to look at the kinds of recurring problems one might be experiencing. These can serve as clues to an earlier situation that caused a dysregulation in the structure or function of the brain.
Common personal and behavioral effects of emotional trauma:
- substance abuse
- compulsive behavior patterns
- self-destructive and impulsive behavior
- uncontrollable reactive thoughts
- inability to make healthy professional or lifestyle choices
- dissociative symptoms ("splitting off" parts of the self)
- feelings of ineffectiveness, shame, despair, hopelessness
- feeling permanently damaged
- a loss of previously sustained beliefs
Common effects of emotional trauma on interpersonal relationships:
- inability to maintain close relationships or choose appropriate friends and mates
- sexual problems
- hostility (towards the wrong person or thing)
- arguments with family members, employers, friends or co-workers
- social withdrawal
- feeling constantly threatened
- feeling no one understands you
What if symptoms don't go away, or appear at a later time?
Over time, even without professional treatment, symptoms of an emotional trauma generally subside, and normal daily functioning gradually returns. However, even after time has passed, sometimes the symptoms don't go away. Or they may appear to be gone, but surface again in another stressful situation. When a person's daily life functioning or life choices continue to be affected, a post-traumatic stress disorder may be the problem, requiring professional assistance.
How is emotional trauma treated?
Traditional approaches to treating emotional trauma include:
- talk therapies (working out the feelings associated with the trauma);
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) involves changing one's thoughts and actions, and includes systematic desensitization to reduce reactivity to a traumatic stressor
- relaxation/stress reduction techniques, such as biofeedback or breathwork; and
- hypnosis to deal with reactions often below the level of conscious awareness.
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming)
- Somatic Experiencing
- Integrative Body Psychotherapy
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Good Mothers & Their Allies vs. the Family Court and the Abuser
This introduction is adapted from a section that Bancroft wrote for Disorder in the Courts: Mothers and Their Allies Take on the Family Court System, an e-book available from California NOW.
by Lundy Bancroft
There is no love deeper, more complete, and more vulnerable than the love that caring parents feel for their children. There is a bond so strong that it can be hard to tell exactly where the parent ends and the child begins, and the line is even harder to draw when our children are very young. Mothers have an additional bond from having carried their children inside of their bodies and having given birth to them, and more than half of mothers have experienced a deepened attachment through breast-feeding their babies. And mothers are, in the great majority of cases, their children’s primary caretakers, especially during their early years. All connections between caring, non-abusive parents and their children are so important as to be almost sacred, but there is usually a particular quality to the mother-child bond. That life-giving and sustaining connection deserves the full support and admiration of communities and nations.
And just as there is a special beauty and importance to relationships between mothers and their children, there is a special and extraordinary cruelty in the abusive man who attempts to break or weaken the mother-child bond, whether by turning children against their mother, by harming the children physically, sexually or psychologically, or by attempting to take custody of the children away from her.
Children need protection from their abusive parents. In the realm of custody litigation which involves abuse, the abusive parent tends to be the father while the protective parent is usually the mother, because most perpetrators of domestic violence and of child sexual abuse are male. We don’t know that much about what happens to protective fathers, since their cases are much less common, but we know that protective mothers frequently encounter a system that is insensitive, ignorant about the dynamics of abuse, and biased against women. In this context, mothers sometimes find themselves being forbidden by the court from protecting their children from a violent, cruel, or sexually abusive father. And this outcome is a tragic one, for children and for their mothers.
On behalf of the hundreds of people across the continent who are currently working for family court justice, I want to communicate to you our caring and solidarity with the challenging road you have ahead of you, as you fight to keep your children safe in body and soul. I want to let you know how critically important we believe that project to be, and how much your children need you to stand up for their rights and their well-being. You deserve admiration, not criticism, for the courageous risks you are taking on their behalf, and for your determination that all of you should have the opportunity to live in freedom and kindness.
Our society is currently giving mothers a powerful and crazy-making mixed message. First, it says to mothers, “If your children’s father is violent or abusive to you or to your children, you should leave him in order to keep your children from being exposed to his behavior.” But then, if the mother does leave, the society many times appears to do an abrupt about-face, and say, “Now that you are spilt up from your abusive partner, you must expose your children to him. Only now you must send them alone with him, without you even being around anymore to keep an eye on whether they are okay.”
What do we want? Do we want mothers to protect their children from abusers, or don’t we?
The sad result of this double-bind is that many mothers who take entirely appropriate steps to protect their children from exposure to abuse are being insulted by court personnel, harshly and unethically criticized and ridiculed in custody evaluations and psychological assessments, and required to send their children into unsupervised contact or even custody with their abusive fathers. And sometimes these rulings are coming in the face of overwhelming evidence that the children have both witnessed abuse and suffered it directly, evidence that would convince any reasonable and unbiased person that the children were in urgent need of protection. Family courts across the US and Canada appear to be guilty day in and day out of reckless endangerment of children.
Fortunately, there are also many women who do succeed in keeping their children safe post-separation. Some manage to persuade judges to grant the mother appropriate right to keep her children safe. Others lost in the early stages but do better later, as the abuser finally starts to show his true colors over time. Some women find that they succeed best by staying out of court, and using other methods to protect their children, such as waiting for the abuser to lose interest and drop out, or moving some distance away so that he will tire. Some women find that what works best is to focus on involving their children in supportive services, connecting them to healthy relatives, and teaching them to think critically and independently, so that they become strong children who see through the abuse and manipulation.
There is no formula that works for everyone. What strategies will work best for you depends on what your local court system is like, how much support you are receiving from friends and relatives, how much internal strength your children have, and how much (or how little) damage the abuser has already succeeded in doing to your relationships with your children. And each abuser is different. Some, for example, can be placated if they feel like they have won, and will gradually drift off, while others will never be satisfied with anything less than completely alienating children from their mother. Lawyers can advise you on court strategy, therapists can share their insight into children’s injuries and healing processes, but ultimately you have to rely most on your own judgment, because you are the only expert on the full complexities of you specific situation.
As you make your way ahead, I hope you will put a high priority on taking good care of yourself. Seek out kind, supportive people who are good listeners. Nurture your friendships and family relationships. Try to step through the stress long enough each day to spend some time showering your children with love if they are with you, and make sure to play with them, not just look after their needs. Notice what you have already done well, as a parent and as an advocate for your children. Give yourself credit for your own strength, and celebrate the fact that your mind is getting free of the abuse, even if your children are not free yet. Cry out your sorrows when you need to, sob into a pillow behind a closed door so you won’t upset your children, but do sob, because your heart needs the cleansing relief of those tears. And then build on your strengths and accomplishments to keep fighting.
I wish the “justice system” dispensed justice, but where it comes to child custody litigation involving abusive fathers, outcomes are mixed at best. With adequate knowledge and planning, and especially if you are among the fortunate mothers who are able to obtain competent legal representation from a lawyer who understands what abusers are like as parents, you may be able to keep your children on the path to healing. If your case goes poorly, there are still ways that you can help your children feel your love and support surrounding them, and give them the strength to survive their father’s destructiveness. But regardless of the outcome you experience personally, you might want to keep the following points in mind:
- The custody system in the US and Canada is broken. You are not the only person who has experienced unhealthy and biased responses, and you are not the crazy, paranoid, vindictive person they may be painting you as.
- Other women need your help to change that system, so that protective mothers start receiving proper respects for their rights and their children’s rights.
Depending on where your own case stands currently, you may have trouble imagining any involvements right now beyond your day-to-day survival, and your efforts to keep your children functioning. But involvement in social change efforts is not necessarily separate from personal healing. Many women have found that when they become active in the protective parents movement, raising their voices loudly for the custody rights of mothers who have been battered or whose children have been sexually abused, their own healing leaps forward.
Breaking down personal isolation sometimes goes hand in hand with breaking down political isolation. So I offer suggestions here not only for ways to carry on your own fight, but also for avenues to join forces with other women (and male allies) who are working for social justice, so that protective mothers and their children can stop being torn apart.
I want to express my personal gratitude to you for your efforts to protect your children from abuse, and to raise them into caring, kind, humane values. The whole world benefits when you fight for your children’s rights, and for their freedom.
Protective mothers are some of our society’s most invisible and most important heroes, even while they are treated so often, in a bitter irony, as villains.
FOR THIS ARTICLE AND OTHER GREAT LINKS - CLICK HERE
Monday, February 19, 2018
Unresolved Trauma = Attracts Dating Predators
Address old wounds before jumping into the dating pool
It would generally be wiser to take an active role in picking the target of your request for help. If you decide to actively request help, you could try to screen for certain factors that might indicate that a particular person would be relatively safe to hail—for example, a man or woman who appears to be riding with his or her young children.
Even if you picked at random, without looking for indicators of potentially safe helpers, you would be statistically less likely to pick a sociopath relative to the likelihood that a sociopath might pick you when he or she witnesses your obvious state of vulnerability.
As threat expert Gavin De Becker explains, “the possibility that you'll inadvertently select a predatory criminal for whom you are the right victim type is very remote."* In other words, if you were to wait passively in your car for someone to help you, you would most likely attract one of two types of people—either good Samaritans or opportunistic sociopaths drawn to your state of need.
- A person who shows blatant disrespect by flaking out on plans at the last minute with no reasonable explanation… (testing whether the other person will allow him or herself to be treated disrespectfully)
- A person who asks someone he or she has just met on the internet to “come visit for a weekend” (testing things like impulsiveness and how much the other person is willing to invest in a relationship that has barely begun, which may be a indicator of desperation or low self-esteem)…
- A person who pressures someone into physical intimacy early in a relationship, before trust or safety has been well-established over a lengthy period of time…(testing level of self-respect, impulsivity, desperation, etc.)
*De Becker, G. (1997). The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect us from Violence. New York, NY: Dell Publishing (a division of Random House, Inc.), p. 65.
**Grayson, B. and Stein, M.I. (1981) Attracting Assault: Victims' Nonverbal Cues. Journal of Communication 31 (1): 68-75.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
CYBERSTALKING IN THE 21st CENTURY - PART FIVE
Victim says fighting back is vital
By Dave Breakenridge -- Sun Media
Calgary, Alberta (CANADA) -- It took her almost three years, but Jane was able to get justice against her stalker.
After months of endless phone calls, letters and being followed, Jane -- not her real name -- breathed a sigh of relief in 2002 when her stalker was sentenced to jail.
"I was so grateful -- I was so relieved when it was over," said Jane. "I had almost given up."
A restraining order didn't work -- her stalker kept coming. But he was eventually arrested, tried and convicted, and Jane has had more than two trouble-free years.
There have been no phone calls, no notes, not a peep.
But Jane is still careful.
Her phone number is unlisted, she has a new job, and she hopes to move to another part of town, just to be safe.
She wanted neither her name nor her stalker's name printed.
But she wants to see other women in similar situations follow her example of never giving up, and going to great lengths to protect themselves.
"They're dangerous even if they don't touch you, because you don't know what they're capable of doing," she said.
Information risk specialist Sharon Polsky says the key to staying safe from a stalker is protecting your personal information.
"Someone who is a stalker, they are determined and they usually have a target in mind," says Polsky, owner of Project Scopes Solution Group.
A target can prevent a stalker from learning more about her -- victims are overwhelmingly female -- by being protective about what information they give out in their day-to-day lives.
"Don't give real information on websites and don't give out your home number on websites, unless you're dealing with the government and you're required to," she said
Polsky also advises women to make sure their addresses aren't listed in the phone book, or to have a completely unlisted number.
"Also, get a shredder so your utility bill doesn't accidentally end up blowing down the alley in the breeze," she said.
It's also advised if a victim moves to escape a stalker, that she set up an alternate mailing address, such as a post office box.
The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime says the post office box should be a victim's primary address for licences, car registration, credit cards, bills, schools, voter records, and all medical records
And, as a general rule, people should not give out their Social Insurance Number to anyone other than banks and employers, because a SIN can be used to track someone.
In addition to protecting information given out on-line, Polsky said people need to protect their home and work computers by changing passwords and making sure they've been turned off before stepping away from them.
This would prevent stalkers, particularly intimate partner stalkers who might have access, from hijacking e-mail programs.
But Polsky said a persistent stalker will use any means to get information. "It's not the technology, it's the people," she said.
"Stalkers operate on base instincts -- it's very easy to get information from people just by asking."
Tracy Bahm, director of the Stalking Resource Centre at the National Centre for Victims of Crime, in Washington, D.C., said it's frightening what someone can find out with something as simple as an online background check.
"You're info gets passed around and put in more and more databases, so you need to protect it," she said.
Victims also need to keep a record of everything, Bahm said, no matter how minute the contact.
"It's multiple acts that make up stalking," she said. "A lot of it is keeping a log keeping record of how many phone calls or e-mails came in on a given day."
But even if victims are even able to protect themselves or gather enough evidence to take to the police, stalking still leaves a mark.
"It's that invasion into every part of your life that I think is really hard for victims -- unless that person dies, it never goes away," Bahm said.
"There's that fear element -- they just won't stop and I think that's pretty scary."
Bahm said people are aware technology is being misused but as it gets better, it becomes harder and harder to detect
That means victims and police have some distance to make up in the race to thwart the shadowy techno-stalker, with all eyes on his victim.
- - -
STALKING SURVIVAL GUIDE
If you or someone you know is being tormented , you can:
* Contact the police
* Keep a written record of the date and time of every contact with the stalker and keep the record in a safe place
* Tell friends, family or co-workers what's happening
* Get a peace bond under section 810 of the Criminal Code of Canada. They can have conditions of no contact, or order a person to stay a certain distance away from you
* Keep as much information as possible private , and change your mailing address to a post office box
* Keep the outside of your house well-lit, install an alarm, change the locks and keep doors and windows locked, even when you are home
* Change your phone number, using *67 to block your number or *57 to trace harassing calls
* A cellphone is recommended in case of emergency
* Keep emergency numbers next to the phone
* Seek out the help of victim services in your community
* Make trusted people in your workplace aware of the situation and tell others not to reveal your whereabouts to outsiders
* Have unnecessary information about you removed from your company's website
* Be well aware of your surroundings when you are out
* If you are being followed, drive directly to a police, gas or fire station, remain inside the vehicle and honk the horn until someone comes to your aid
* If a friend is being stalked, express concern about it to the victim and encourage them to turn to the police for help
* It is not advised to confront a stalker on a friend's behalf -- this can place you at risk of harassment and could place increased risk on the victim -- contact the police instead
-- source: Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime
- - -
Some things a stalker may do:
* Follow his victim everywhere
* Make repeated, unwanted phone calls
* Damage the home, car or other property
* Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards or e-mail
* Monitor phone calls or computer use
* Make threats or commit other actions
While not all stalkers are the same, most of them share some common traits:
* Obsessive personality
* Above-average intelligence
* Extreme emotional needs
* Few personal relationships
* May be delusional
* Non-conformity to social norms
* Low self-esteem
* Substance abuse
While a stalker can pose a threat to his target, there are a number of warning signs the risk regarding the stalker is increasing:
* Escalation to more personal forms of conduct
* Closer geographical proximity of the stalking
* Prior criminal history
* Communicated threats are a strong indicator, especially direct, private, written threats very specific and severe in nature
Saturday, February 17, 2018
CYBERSTALKING IN THE 21st CENTURY - PART FOUR OF A SERIES
Victims tell tales of terror
By Dave Breakenridge -- Sun Media
Calgary, Alberta (CANADA) -- Modern technology is bringing even more terror to stalking victims.
Lisa, a stalking victim who didn't want her real name used, said she started getting suspicious when her ex-boyfriend would show up wherever she went.
It didn't matter where: picking up clients or visiting the library, he would turn up.
He would phone her and ask where she picked up her two kids, and then fly into a rage when her answer didn't reflect the information he had.
And he was always right.
"He would appear in places he wouldn't otherwise know I was there," said Lisa.
Unbeknownst to her, Lisa's ex-boyfriend had attached a global positioning system device to her car.
"He is so smart with technology, he could put anything together," she said.
The pair's romance began three years ago.
Lisa said her ex seemed normal, smart and charming.
"He was a very nice guy, very nice -- all of the good things you look for," she said.
But their two-year relationship started to turn sour after he developed a drug addiction.
"It started affecting his brain and he would go days without sleeping," she said.
Repeated pleas to get him to stop went nowhere so Lisa was forced to issue an ultimatum.
"I warned him 'if I see you in that condition one more time, it's over,' " she said.
"He told me that he would quit and then he told me that he had already quit, but I had seen him in that state before, so I knew what to look for."
Knowing he was lying, Lisa tried to put an end to the relationship, causing him to fly into a rage.
"He broke things in his apartment, put holes in his walls," she said, adding he tried to contact her to arrange a meeting.
Lisa said he told her he would try to be calm.
"But as soon as he would hear the words break up, he would go crazy," she said.
After that meeting last February, the constant phone calls and e-mails began -- Lisa said he was begging just to hear her voice.
She said he would call in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, and ask her to talk about trivial things.
And then the threats started.
"He said 'it's me or no one else -- and if it's not me, then I'll kill you,' " she said.
Despite the threats, Lisa didn't go directly to the police and her ex wouldn't relent. He would hound her constantly, from the first conversation about breaking up, to when he was arrested six months later. His phone calls became even more incessant, Lisa said, using cell phones to tie up the lines where she worked and having her cellular service cut off.
And during this period the strange appearances started, terrifying her even more.
"I realized that he was totally sick and it was damaging not just for me, but for him, because he had lost his mind," said Lisa, who eventually found the GPS device he was using and called police, but she said an arrest wasn't made.
Frightened about his actions, she went with her two kids to stay at her sister's, because she was worried he would break in to her house.
Compounded with the further threats against Lisa and her home, the authorities were called into the case. Not long after, he was arrested and charged with stalking.
Lisa hopes she won't have to deal with him again, but the ordeal has damaged her.
"There's a sense of self-protection on me now -- I don't even want to get into a relationship," said the American woman.
"What I feel right now is not good, because what I lost is a belief in love."
But most off all, she still can't shake the feeling of having her movements watched.
The thought a victim could be tracked anywhere they go in such a fashion terrifies an Alberta stalking victim, who was terrorized for nine months after her romantic entanglement with her eventual stalker came to an end.
Jane, who also didn't want her real name used for fear of stirring up past demons, said because of the nature of the crime, anything is possible with a persistent stalker.
"That's terrifying -- I couldn't imagine that," Jane said of the possibility of being tracked with GPS.
"I'd be freaking out and if someone did that to me and I found out, the first thing I would try to do is get a new car."
Jane's stalker would skulk around her house and send her letters threatening to send lurid photos to her relatives.
He would try to be sweet, Jane said, but his mood would turn on a dime when she rebuffed his attempts to regain her affection.
"He would latch on to my car when I tried to drive away and he would show up at my door constantly causing trouble," she said.
Jane said he sent her letters to the front desk of her office, leave nasty notes in her mailbox, ring the doorbell and run away.
Jane said he supplemented his letters with constant phone calls, both to her home and her workplace, totalling nearly 50 every day.
"It was extremely frightening because you never knew what he was capable of," she said.
Eventually, Jane was able to get a restraining order against her stalker, followed by his arrest, charges and a jail sentence.
"I'm just trying to live my life, to get it out of my mind," she said.
"But if I see somebody that even remotely looks like him, my heart just stops."
Friday, February 16, 2018
CYBERSTALKING IN THE 21st CENTURY - Part Three
High-tech gadgets give stalkers more power
By Dave Breakenridge -- Sun Media
It's a technology with the noblest of uses -- tracking kidnapped children or finding avalanche victims.
But like they've done with computers, stalkers have found a new use for global positioning systems (GPS).
Four recent cases in the U.S. have shown the dark side of the technology, all of them involving men attaching a GPS-enabled device to their exes' vehicles to aid them in their stalking behaviour.
Such gadgets use a constellation of satellites to pinpoint location and, using cellular networks, can send their co-ordinates to wireless handsets or computers.
Misuse of the devices allows a stalker precise information about the location of their target, making it easier to terrorize. Authorities involved in the cases have said the technology has created the brand of 21st century stalking.
Because of that, Pamela Cross of the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children and the Ontario Women's Justice Network in Toronto, said victims' groups, which deal with thousands of people every year, need to be more up to speed about what technology is being used by abusers.
"I would say so -- technology is almost the greatest gift to a persistent stalker," she said.
"The thing you have to remember is you're talking about people who aren't overly concerned that what they're doing is illegal."
She said stalkers are the type of people who will use any means necessary to achieve their goals.
Persistent stalkers, she said, are usually intelligent, manipulative people who seem to find a way to get information from the people who have it.
With the case of technology, the intelligent, persistent stalker manipulates it to his own advantage.
"I think the GPS stories are disheartening -- it's so insidious because even things like MapQuest and other similar services can give you directions right to a person's house," Cross said.
"The other thing that exists that I find quite bizarre are these 'I Spy' software programs that advertise ways to track someone down electronically."
Edmonton-based Crown prosecutor Val Campbell, also the co-ordinator of the family violence initiative for Alberta Justice, said technological means are just another way for an abuser to exert control over a victim.
"The GPS thing is pretty frightening," Campbell said, adding it's likely just a matter of time before a Canadian stalker starts using tracking technology.
"For sure, if it isn't happening already."
But Cindy Southworth, director of technology at the National Network to End Domestic Violence in Washington, D.C., said in all likelihood, there's an obsessed ex somewhere in Canada, watching in real-time his computer monitor.
"I believe strongly that Canadians are incredibly tech-savvy ... it's possibly not being reported," Southworth said.
"When you look at societies that have high technology use, there are going to be situations where technology is used in violent incidents."
Southworth, who started training law enforcement more than four years ago, has co-ordinated her efforts in Washington with Tracy Bahm of the Stalking Resource Centre.
"She and I are seeing lots and lots of technology showing up in stalking and domestic violence cases," Southworth said.
In addition to the GPS cases, tech-savvy stalkers are turning to devices such as spyware to monitor their targets' computer use, and putting hidden video cameras to a wide variety of prying-eye uses, including keeping tabs on who an ex might be inviting into the bedroom.
Australian and British law enforcement agencies are sounding the alarm over camera-equipped cell phones as a new form of stalking, something which would fall under Canada's proposed anti-voyeur law, should it be passed.
"Secret webcams in dorm rooms, upskirt photos and posting photos to the Internet to hurt someone, that's all going to be illegal," said Crown prosecutor Steve Bilodeau, who specializes in cybercrime.
Though the technology is new, GPS devices have been commercially available for about five years and Southworth said every advancement in technology has brought about new misuses by stalkers.
"When caller identification was first introduced, abusers would monitor the caller ID box," she said.
"As technology advances, it's going to be almost impossible for victims to flee and get to safety."
But she said there are always signs.
"Trust your instincts -- if your ex knows too much about your activities or things you only told a few people, you might be under surveillance," she said.
An even stronger sign is if the stalker follows his target to places the victim has never been before.
That was the tip-off for Connie Adams, a Wisconsin woman who in 2002 was stalked by her ex-boyfriend with a real-time GPS tracker.
He showed up while she was at a particular bar for the first time.
"He told me no matter where I went or what I did, he would know where I was," Adams testified at her ex's hearing.
Police say Paul Seidler put a global positioning tracking device between the radiator and grill of Adams' car.
He was handed nine months in jail in 2003 for stalking.
Southworth also said an ex with a history of controlling behaviour and who is fairly comfortable with technology could resort to technology to track and torment.
But sometimes stalkers will identify how they're keeping tabs on their victims.
"Follow the patterns," she said.
"If it's every time you call or e-mail someone your stalker is calling you asking specifics about the conversation you just had, or where you've been, then that's a pretty strong signal.
"That's one of the ways they tip their hand: They taunt their victims with information they're not supposed to know."
For victims who think someone might be using a GPS unit to follow them, or using a camera to secretly videotape them, as long as the device is transmitting a radio frequency, it can can be detected.
The devices that scan for signals can be expensive, but for some, the peace of mind would far outweigh the cost.
People worried about the cost can look at various places on their vehicles, including under the bumper or under the front and rear dashboards.
Southworth's group advises if anything is found, it should be kept, photographed, but not removed from where it is.
That's a task best left to the police, who should be contacted immediately.
Thursday, February 15, 2018
CYBERSTALKING IN THE 21st CENTURY - PART TWO
Access to your life a mouse click away
By Dave Breakenridge -- Sun Media
CALGARY -- With the advent of high-technology, stalking has become a greater threat than ever before. In our five-part series, the Sun Media's Dave Breakenridge looks at the scourge of stalking in the 21st Century.
It used to be stalkers would have to make personal efforts to get their targets' attention, leaving notes or keeping watch outside their homes.
But now, stalkers are getting their threats right into where their victims live -- volleys of love or hate, or both -- landing squarely and repeatedly in e-mail inboxes, websites, blogs about the victims & their families or instant message windows.
Two-thirds of Canadian homes have a computer, and nearly that many have at least one person using the Internet from work, home or school, making the computer an easy-to-access tool of terror.
These cases where a computer is used to torment are becoming more common, said Det. Brad Martin of the Calgary Police Service technological crimes unit.
"It now happens on a pretty regular basis where the Internet is used to harass, embarrass or make life difficult for people," he said.
"The most common stuff we see is e-mail, instant messages to cell phones, websites hosted with private pictures or personal information and registration at seedy websites in that person's name."As Canada becomes more plugged in, and computers are used more frequently for everything from keeping in touch to balancing the family books, increased computer use by all kinds of crooks is a natural evolution.
In the case of stalking, Martin said, that includes software originally designed as a safety tool for parents.
Things like spyware marketed for parents to monitor a child's computer use, can be used by a stalker to access information which could further the harassment.
"When they're used, the way they're designed to be used they have an important role in the use of computers," Martin said.
"But the dark side is always there and people are going to use good stuff for bad things."
Despite the perceived anonymity of the computer, Martin said cyberstalkers can be caught.
"The technology is there that whoever you are, your communication can be traced back to the sending computer," Martin said, adding the onus in most cyber-cases rests with the victim.Because they are the target of the communication, victims need to keep as much of it as they can to help build a strong case.
Technology has become so interwoven with criminality, Martin said his unit could have double its four current members and still have an overflowing case load -- adding half of his cases involve child pornography.
"When you're getting harassed with e-mails, don't reply, and save the e-mails -- if you reply you increase the problem and it sort of encourages the activity to continue," Martin said, adding if the behaviour continues, the police should be contacted. Saving the suspect e-mails is important because it gives the police evidence to work with, Martin said.
He also said Internet service providers are, for the most part, co-operative with law enforcement, some more than others.
While e-mail may be the most common electronic tool for stalkers, Edmonton-based Crown prosecutor Steven Bilodeau -- who specializes in cybercrime -- said there are myriad electronic means for a stalker to harass and torment his victim.
"Cyberstalking can take on whole other aspects ... it can be things like hijacking someone's e-mail password or going into a sex forum pretending to be that person," he said.Calgary police Det. Gordon Robertson said he's worked a number of cases where a computer was used as part of a pattern of controlling and intimidating behaviour.
One case sticks out in his mind as being particularly frightening for the victim.
Roughly a year after his marriage dissolved, a man went to his ex-wife's house while she was asleep and told his son he'd come over to get something he left at the house.
While there, he installed an insidious trojan program -- used to take remote control of the computer -- on his ex's PC.
The woman then started getting e-mails from her former hubby asking about the new guy she's been seeing -- with quotes lifted right from messages she'd sent friends.
"He'd been monitoring her e-mails and computer activity," Robertson said.
Whether it be data storage, communication, hacking, identity theft, or using the Internet to exploit children, Martin said the misuse of technology is just a natural, but unfortunate, evolution.
"The way that criminality is going is crooks are switched onto technology now
and they are using these communication devices more," Martin said.
"They know what's going on and they're not encumbered by the cost of things because they take the profit from their crimes and they invest it in that cost."
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Cyberstalking in the 21st Century - Part One
PART ONE OF A SERIES
They used to sit outside their targets' homes -- hiding in cars or bushes -- waiting to follow them.
They used to leave hastily-scrawled notes on their windshields before slashing their tires.
But now stalkers have moved into the 21st century, using modern technology to leave their terrorized victims living in fear.
Satellite technology, such as GPS, makes it possible to follow people in real-time from a remote location.
Threatening e-mails have supplemented the notes, while online background checks allow people access to information victims would otherwise want kept private, such as addresses and places of business.
Police forces across the country deal with thousands of criminal harassment cases every year, and suspects in these incidents are frequently turning to technology as a way of stalking their victims.
Det. Gordon Robertson of the Calgary Police Service, one of Canada's foremost stalking experts, said new technologies provide further tools for a stalker to exert his -- the overwhelming majority of stalkers are men -- controlling behaviour on the victim.
"The technological age has put a whole different spin on even regular stalking -- technology has added a dark twist," Robertson said.
He said the perceived anonymity of e-mail and Internet chat rooms lead to more bold behaviour -- offenders will say and do things on-line they wouldn't in real life. (This is called the "ONLINE DISINHIBITION EFFECT")
The technology is also there for a stalker to monitor a person's computer use, down to a single keystroke, or to get access to their e-mails and personal information.
"For people with the know-how, the computer offers that readily-accessible medium," he said. "You're seeing the computers involved in a lot of these cases."
Because computers and e-mails are increasingly used, Robertson said police are more often turning to search warrants to seize a suspect's hard drive.
Techno-stalking cases add to the workload of technological crimes units, which are already fighting a seemingly endless battle against another technological scourge: online kiddie porn.
"How do you police cyberspace?" Robertson said. "A lot of things are going on in that medium because there is virtually no one watching it."
Technology and stalking have become so linked, groups in the U.S. are designing programs that specifically target the problem.
Cindy Southworth, director of technology at the National Network to End Domestic Violence in Washington, D.C., said the increase in technology-related domestic violence cases in the U.S. led to the creation of Safety Net: the National Safe and Strategic Technology Project.
"We found there was a fair amount of technological misuse woven in with stalking and domestic abuse," she said, adding the majority of high-tech stalking cases fall within a domestic violence context, as is the case with the low-tech approach.
"We find stalking in general is not very well understood and when you add technology to it, it's even more of a challenge."
But she said old-fashioned measures to track and terrorize a stalking victim have not yet fallen out of style.
"They're still showing up at the house, they're still slashing the tires, but in addition they've added these other tools," she said.
"Because all of these technologies are widely available in the U.S. and Canada ... the more awareness we get out, the more cases we expect to see."
Part of Southworth's job, as is Robertson's, is educating law enforcement about the crime.
Southworth trains police to ask questions which could lead to evidence a stalker or abuser is using technology to facilitate a campaign of terror.
"Police need to start asking questions like 'Does your ex ever e-mail you? Does he seem to know things he shouldn't know about your daily activities,' " she said. (Most police have no clue how to deal with this)
On a positive note, she said, as more technology is being misused for the purposes of stalking and abuse, more groups are focusing on the misuse of that technology. "It's a step in the right direction," she said.
The goal now, Southworth said, is to educate women how to use technology to their advantage, to search out shelters, to log e-mails and to protect their privacy so they're no longer victims.
PROJECT CIVILITY AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY