Cell phones.Our desire to be reachable 24/7 also means that batterers or stalkers can have 24-hour reach. We've seen plenty of men who start texting when their former partners refuse to pick up the phone, sometimes hundreds of times an hour. Lots of batterers insist that they be able to look through their partner's phones to see who she has called, who has called her, and whose number she may be storing. Men may take their partner's phone to keep her from receiving calls when she's looking for a job and he doesn't want her to work. Women often testify that their partners smashed their phones when they were trying to seek help, leaving those women who do not have a home phone without a way to contact police. Men may also threaten or carry out a threat to forward explicit personal photos of their partners taken on their phone as a way to shame them or damage their reputation.
Love ’em or hate ’em, they are a big part of today’s world. Some people claim that cell phones improve their quality of life, making things easier and more convenient. At the Solicitor General’s Office, however, cell phones are making things difficult and more complicated.
The Solicitor General’s Office dealt with more than 100 cell-phone-related complaints in 2009. Many complaints dealt with threatening or harassing text messages, also known as textual harassment. Other cases, meanwhile, centered around hurtful photographs, videos and “forwards,” according to Solicitor Maxine Blackwell.
“A lot of people wouldn’t believe the sorts of things that victims show us on their cell phones. It’s just awful. It certainly has caused my view of the world to become warped,” said Blackwell. “Five years ago, we never saw any cases involving cell phones in this office. Now, it’s through the roof. It’s a problem that grows with each passing month.”
But cell phones also have their advantages. The AJC recently reported the story of an ingenious woman who led her abusive boyfriend right to police. Because she called the police station on the way in, a S.W.A.T. team was waiting. Having abusive text messages saved on your phone will certainly help get a criminal warrant or protective order because they are proof of threats or harassment that you can show a judge. And having a phone number that you can take with you as you move from your home to a safehouse or from the safehouse to an apartment means that you can always stay connected to job prospects, family, or your children's school.
Unfortunately, as technology advances so does our abuse of it, and until we as a society are clear that violence against women is unacceptable, batterers will continue to get better and more clever at what they do.