Let me first state that 1) am not an attorney or legal expert; 2) I stumble frequently with the use of technology; 3) I do not condone marital infidelity; and 4) I am not accusing Leon Walker of domestic violence.
In reading this article and following other stories regarding this case, it appears that many of the “experts” and certainly those readers commenting on it feel that these charges are not warranted and that Mr. Walker has the right to check his wife’s email messages. I wonder if he had not been able to substantiate the affair if people would feel the same.I have many concerns with this case and the commentary being made but I will stick with just one primary concern – how technology has become a useful tool in tracking and victimizing a partner, spouse or ex-partner/spouse by a batterer.
At HAVEN we hear story after story of how a victim was stalked, harassed, threatened and assaulted as a result of their abuser being able to locate them with GPS, tracking them via their internet use history or through email/text message information. There are media stories from around the country where women have died as a result of such misuse of technology.
In the above referenced article and others, various legislators are stating that they plan to introduce legislation to allow for a spouse to be able to have access to their partners (and children’s) email accounts. Do we really want this or even need it? Do we want an abusive partner to have the ability, not to mention society’s permission, to spy on their victim?
We warn victims continually (just check out our website www.haven-oakland.org )to be extremely cautious about their internet usage. Everyone accesses the web to seek out information. That includes victims seeking information on ending a violent relationship, safety planning, counseling options, etc. When an abuser has knowledge of this search, a lethal end could be the result.
Domestic violence is all about power and control. We all need to work to create a community that does not condone the abuse of power but instead works to ensure equality in all relationships. Let’s not give an abuser permission to control their partner through the technology on which we all rely.