It’s tempting for targets of blackmail or revenge porn to delete or ignore evidence of the harassment or threats. While it’s an understandable reaction, erasing that proof could weaken your attempts to take back control. Furthermore, out of sight, out of mind doesn’t always stop perpetrators who are bent on destroying your life.
Fortunately for victims, harassment conducted online often provides an evidence trail. For example, with nonconsensual pornography, the crime is the proof. That means tools used to attack victims can also be mobilized to strengthen cases and, ultimately, restore control and agency.
Record the date and time the incident occurred.
Remembering every call, Facebook message or DM, email, or text in perfect detail is really hard, especially if it’s a situation you’ve been in for months or years. That’s why it’s crucial that you jot down the date and time of every harassing incident. Legal battles and criminal investigations are lengthy, intensive processes that demand solid and consistent recall from victims.
You don’t want to risk forgetting about something that seems minor but could prove crucial to your case when recounting it later on.
Screenshot, save, and file.
Privacy attacks can escalate fast, so you want to be able to turn over evidence to an attorney and/or law enforcement quickly. Screenshot every texts, DMs, emails, tweets and download voicemails. Basically preserve any communication or incident that supports your claims of harassment.
Then save them in a folder on your computer or, better yet, an external hard-drive like a USB. External back-ups prevents hacking! We also suggest implementing a file name system that indicates the date and type of incident.
For example, a screenshot of a Facebook message sent on September 9, 2017 could be filed as 09092017_FB_Message.
Organizing your evidence in a uniform way makes it easier for others to review and analyze.
Describe thoroughly and objectively.
Each time you’ve saved an incident of harassment, write a brief and succinct summary of what the screenshot or voicemail contains in your Incident Tracking Template. These descriptions will help your attorney and the police to work quickly, saving you time and money. It can be short:
“This screenshot of an Instagram direct message from my ex shows him threatening to release my nude photos if we don’t get back together.”
Don’t let your emotions get in the way. Facts are your greatest ally, so be objective when describing the contents of the evidence.
You don’t need to be an angel to be the victim of harassment and assault. If something’s embarrassing or doesn’t paint you in a positive light, get over it. It’s more important to be honest with your lawyer and the cops. Hiding details could be detrimental or cause delays in your case. It’s crucial for your attorneys to know about anything that the offender could use against you.
No one should spend every second worrying or panicking over the next move their offender will make. If you’re under attack, reach out to an attorney and the police right away.