With a Little Planning—and a Cell Phone—You Can Record Evidence of Domestic Violence

If your spouse is mistreating you, it can be hard to know where to turn. You’re too afraid to tell anyone, and you’re not sure if you can trust your closest friends to keep the abuse a secret until you are able to make a plan to get your family away from harm. So how can you document evidence of abuse without arousing your spouse’s suspicion? With a little planning—and a cell phone—you may be able to rely on yourself.

The First Step

The first step in recording evidence of abuse is to set up a new email address, one that is separate from your regular account. It should also have a password you have never used before and your spouse will not guess. This is where you will send all of your photos, emails, and other files documenting the abuse. Not only does this keep the evidence away from prying eyes, it is also accessible anywhere in the world and all of your messages will be automatically time stamped.

The Second Step

Next, use your cell phone to collect as much information as you can about the abuse, including:

  • Recordings – Many phones have a voice recording function that can be used to record threats, arguments, and other verbal abuse IF done in person. After you stop recording, be sure to send the file to your secret email address.  It is illegal to record phone calls without the other person's consent.
  • Photos – Victims may be purposely injured in ways that will not “show” in public. Take pictures of any bruises or injuries with your phone—even if you have to take the phone into a public restroom to avoid suspicion.
  • Receipts – Snap a picture of any receipts that point toward abuse, such as repeated purchases of alcohol or prescription drugs, and make sure the store names and dates are visible.

Cell phones can be endlessly useful in recording evidence of abuse, but they can also be a liability if your spouse checks your text messages and call logs. Be sure to delete any pictures, recordings and text after they have been sent to an alternate email address. Uploading them to your computer could be a useful backup option, but also runs the risk of discovery. A better option could be to keep the pictures on an external drive—such as a thumb drive or jump drive—that can be easily removed and hidden.

We encourage you to learn more ways to prepare to leave your abusive spouse in our online e-book, The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Divorce in Washington, or to click the links below to find out how to get additional help near you.

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
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Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
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