A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Be safe! — blog safety vv Facebook safety, and other tips for keeping safe in cyberspace

It’s safer to comment on the A Cry For Justice blog rather than its Facebook page.

Some years ago I was walking with my best friend/sister through her horrific divorce from a malignant narcissistic abuser.

Although she and I had both blocked her husband during divorce proceedings, he still was able to find sycophants who would allow him to use their Facebook to stalk her comments and mine.

He had the gall to send me an anonymous letter with photocopies of one of my posts berating me in a “typical Christian loving way” and rebuking me for what he assumed was a post aimed at him. He just wasn’t smart enough to cover up the picture to the left of the comments on the photocopy – the picture that identified which person’s Facebook he had used to track my posts. We knew it was him, not the person in the photo, because he used all sorts of editing markups on the photocopy to emphasize words or other things that he contended with. Those were the same editing marks that he used when writing up his sermons.

Like I said, he’s not smart. Wily, wicked, but not smart.

On another post of hers where she did not mention his name nor the details of his current abuse of her (only of the turmoil her emotions were going through) he had someone else print out pages of her post and all of the comforting and encouraging words said back to her by those on her friend list. Then he wrote beside each name how she was acquainted with that person, be it our church, an affiliated church, personal friendships outside of church, or some relative.

He then presented this in court as though it were evidence that she was defaming him publicly though his name was never directly mentioned nor indirectly alluded to… Just comments about the painful hardships she was enduring (which we all knew, without her having to say so, that he was the cause of).

When presenting this in court it was intended as emotional harassment coupled with getting weak judges to agree with his sob story (she is ruining MY reputation!) then the judge would admonish her to not speak of him or proceedings on a public forum. She had not spoken of him or the proceedings, but simply her own emotional pain. But the judge still chose to admonish and basically rebuke her even though she had done nothing wrong. Her now ex was, and continues to be, quite accomplished at gaining allies, lying, and manipulating facts and people.

None of us ever dreamed he would stoop lower and lower, and even lower, in his abuse of her within the legal system. At the outset of the separation and subsequent divorce most people privy to the situation would still have said “Oh no, he would never do that! He’s a minister.” (gag)

Suffice to say, if you have been abused enough to be following this website you cannot predict the depths* that your abuser will go to to continue his power-play of abusing you. Nor can you predict the narrative he may be creating to beguile others into believing how awful you are, how you are mistreating him, and how deserving you are of his punishment.

*The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

It is with great hope that we can read the next verse in Jeremiah:

I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

Conclusion? Even if you think your Facebook comments are non-incriminating (because, after all, YOU would never even think of manipulating someone’s innocuous comment to paint an untrue picture) a person with evil intent can twist your comments for his own vile use.

Use the blog, use a pseudonym. Be prudent in every communication with everyone. Frankly, if you still have joint “friends” on FB you may wish to consider blocking them just as you have done with him, at least for the present time.

Want to understand how to comment on the blog? Want to ‘follow’ the blog so you get an email each time a new post is published? Click this link: New Users’ Info Page.

Want help because all this is too overwhelming for you to understand? Email TWBTC (the woman behind the curtain). Her email address is: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

Another safety tactic is to create an alternate Facebook account with a very plain Jane name.

If you create an alternate Facebook account with a very plain Jane name, you can invite only the people you trust with your life to be your friends. You can communicate with them after they have accepted your friendship.

You can occasionally go on your first-created Facebook account so that it still looks like you are semi-active on your original account and commenting on that account with very general things like “Oh What a Beautiful Day!” or a scripture of encouragement.

Keep all your important heartfelt or details of your life comments on your alternate account that only your safest friends have been invited to.

Nothing disappears from the internet

Please remember that nothing disappears from the internet. If you need to get something about him off your chest, but don’t want something to maybe haunt you in the future, don’t use electronic media (social media, texting, email) to communicate it. Say it to someone safe verbally and privately.

If you must communicate with your legal counsel by email, create a new email account specifically for that purpose with a specifically difficult password.

Select a strong password

Tips for selecting a strong password  — these tips are from WordPress so they are probably up to the minute advice.

Tips for phone users

If you are still using the phone and phone service provider that you were using when still living with him, (because quite possibly he’s the one that set up the phone accounts for the household) though it may cost you money you weren’t anticipating, get a new phone, with a new number, with a new carrier. Possibly ask if someone close to you who he doesn’t have contact with will add you as a new line to their account that you pay them for each month. This way he has no ability to finagle his way through phone carrier protocols to access info about you.

If you are still using the phone, the number, and the carrier that he originally set up he may be able to GPS track you, he might have access to your text messages, and he might be able to cancel your phone service out of spite… even after you get your own account (that you pay for) with the same carrier.

I don’t know about all carriers but I do know the almost ex actually did it to my friend through T-Mobile after threatening to do it. He tracked her, he even called people she called (yes, after she obtained her own separate private account with the same carrier) because he still accessed her phone logs to numbers she called that he previously had no way of knowing.

How to turn Geotagging off an Android phone

Safety safety safety

I am passionate about you protecting yourself from danger you had not anticipated because you don’t have thought patterns predisposed to purposely harming others like your abuser does. Be safe, Sisters!

***

ACFJ wants to thank ‘Coming Alongside’ – she is the primary author of this post; Barb only added a few links and such.

‘Coming Alongside’ submitted her story as comment here and we thought it was so helpful and so important that we’re republishing it as a stand-alone post. We have tried to contact her to let her know that we are highlighting her comment in a stand-alone post. We trust she is okay with us featuring her story like this, because she is a  long-time follower and commenter and she knows that when she comments on this blog what she has written will be read and edited by us as needed (to protect victims from being identified by their abusers) before the comment is published.

More helps and tips for cyber safety

Cyber Safety and Social Networking  – this page is a sub-section of our Resources. We put this page together to help victims of domestic abuse be more equipped to guard their safety while they are using the internet, email, social media, Facebook, etc.

Click on the above link to find links to many sites and webpages outside this blog which might help you understand cyber safety better.

17 Comments

  1. Lori

    A few friends and I who have all suffered abuse have a secret FB group where we can talk about things we wouldn’t dream of mentioning openly. We’ve known each other for years and know we can trust each other (a rare and beautiful thing!). But I agree, don’t trust FB, or mutual friends – my daughter found this out. 😦

  2. Maryann

    Very helpful safety blog. Ten years ago I got separate cell phone and new carrier to be launched when I abandoned my family plan phone under the control of my abusive x husband. It was such a relief to only have the numbers of safe people on my private account. That purchase alone showed wisdom and respect for my personhood.

    I am so happy, blest, proud, delighted that ACFJ exists for all abuse victims. I can only regret not having them and walking with them through the whole ugly process. I was not believed and it was incredibly difficult to do alone. Unfortunately my attorney didn’t have a clue as to what a no-contact divorce looked like. He could not understand my terror. To make matters worse, it took a year of my life and cost me my business. But ten years later God has restored what the locusts have eaten. I can see that I’m at the mercy of a bad economy, but I am neither hungry nor cold. Thank you ACFJ team. You are doing kingdom work protecting those who are enduring incredible abuse.

  3. Linn

    I have a young family member who was in a horrible custody battle with her abusive ex. She kept posting all the details to her FB account, which totally backfired on her as it gave her ex more cannon fodder to present in court regarding the way she damaged his reputation. She was “unfair!” I suggested she get off FB for a while. She did, the actual facts of the case were presented, and the judge made a fair custody arrangement that was actually in the best interests of the child. We’ve created a society where we let it all out on social media, and that is often not healthy, especially when dealing with a true sociopath. Sometimes, speaking to a few trusted and vetted friends is the best way to proceed.

    • Linn,

      Welcome to the blog!

      And as you may already now – we like to encourage new commenters to read our New User’s page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog. Also our FAQ page may be a good place to start when exploring the blog.

      Again, Welcome!

  4. Sarah

    Woah!

    I am quite afraid now!

    I have been very careless on social media. But I guess like people in the post, I had no idea how low he would sink to!!

    Will be more careful from now on

  5. I’ve just added this to the post.

    Turning geotagging off your photos on an Android phone

  6. Charis

    “If you create an alternate Facebook account with a very plain Jane name, you can invite only the people you trust with your life to be your friends. You can communicate with them after they have accepted your friendship.”

    Be very careful about this –

    1) He can still “find” you based on common friends and friends of friends (this is the algorithm FB uses). For instance, if he knows that you consider Amy, Sue and Mary to be close friends and that you would also befriend your mother and sister – it won’t really matter that you have changed your name. He will see that “Plain Jane” is friends with a strikingly similar set of friends and relatives as his former partner…you!

    2) You may not always know who you can trust and sometimes that changes or sits at different levels. For instance, I have some very safe friends that I can trust with any information no matter how scary, controversial or deep. But who are they friends with that might also be friends with my ex? Again, this is the powerful algorithm behind FB!

    I have other friends that are safe but have limits. My mother is one of these. She supports me, believes me, trusts me…but I cannot share everything with her. There are large gaps in her understanding. In the example of FB…she is still “friends” with my ex’s mother and aunt (and who knows who else). She will occasionally text my ex. My safety with her is on a very short leash, as it is with several of my extended family members (aunts, etc) who are also on social media. Since my mom is FB friends with ex’s family – there is no way I feel “safe” or secure on FB. I wonder sometimes what she posts and how that gets translated to them (and him!). More than once I have gone to her to “vent” about something my son has shared with and received the response…”yeah, I saw that on FB.” It jars me every time.” She is not safe.

    I would NOT feel safe opening a false account. Too risky for me – I deactivated my FB account.

    Please, be very careful with FB if you choose to open a false account – especially if you think what you post could possibly be used against you. OR, find some of the private groups that are “locked.” Still, be careful how you post in those groups (no names) but the security seems to hold in terms of not letting outsiders in or posting to the main data feed.

    Just my 2cents.

    • Thanks Charis.

      I’m not an expert, but I do know that on Facebook it is possible to set your privacy and sharing settings pretty tightly.

      Go to the General Settings of your account and click select ‘Privacy’. That will open up a screen like this.

      null

      You will then be able to edit the settings for each item shown in blue, by clicking the word ‘edit’ to the right of a blue word.
      This screen shot doesn’t show the word ‘edit’ at the right of each blue word but you’ll see it if you go to your own FB account settings.

      • Charis

        Unfortunately, I don’t think that will help tighten the net as regards FB algorithms and who can still “find” you by association – even if you mark every privacy setting to “Friends” (which is what I tried).

        For instance, ExH may not have permission to see MY friends list because I’ve limited it to “Friends” but he CAN view the list of names that belong to my friends if they have set permissions to “Everyone.” If he is suspicious of Plain Jane, he simply needs to look at other friend lists and see if Plain Jane starts to shows up on their list. The more hits, the more likely he is to have caught on to the game.

        Also, although I can mark My posts as “Private”, I don’t think this applies to when someone (my friend) responds to my post. I think their response can/will still show up 1) in the general news feed or 2) on their wall “Sue responded to Plain Jane’s post.”

        For me, this level of tightening security was not secure enough. I chose to leave FB.

      • Thanks Charis. 🙂
        Yes, that is the problem… one can set one’s own settings on FB, but one can’t set the settings of one’s FB friends…. and that is where the cracks are.

        And those cracks can be enough for a determined abuser to stalk you on Facebook.

  7. Finding Answers

    Two very quick comments:

    1. Charis refers to strong algorithms. All search engines have very powerful – and frequently biased – algorithms. Think of those “personalized” recommendations / ads.. This happens with news stories and a bucket-load of other things, not just those annoying ads. The algorithm and its results are only as good as the programmer.

    2. Many churches / organizations have FB pages as the only way of keeping up on their activities / supplying information. You might need to risk being less informed in this case and / or consider suggesting other avenues besides social media be made available.

    Adding my 2 cents to Charis’

  8. Jamie

    More notes about safety when creating a Plain Jane name…

    • Unless you are committed to completely shedding all contact with your previous circle of family and friends, you will very likely begin to appear as a suggested friend for them…and they for you. Facebook may even begin to suggest you as a match for your abuser(s).

    Should you have a weak moment and peak at someone from your friends/family’s timeline, this likelihood will increase.

    • Facebook can use software sharing on the same computer/devices can pull or match phone numbers and other info and may begin suggesting friends based on information stored elsewhere.

    • Phone apps meant to make messaging easier can combine phone numbers previously dialed or texted from your phone…with Facebook accounts. You could accidentally Private/Direct message someone straight from your secret FB account without realizing it, making the timeline and friends list instantly visible.

    =/

    • Thanks so much for sharing these warnings about FB!

    • Charis

      Yes, This^^

      I had a rough day yesterday and couldn’t think quite clear enough to communicate as clearly as Jamie. This is exactly some of what I was trying to share. Thank you!

      (I know TWBTC may redact this next part but thought I’d put it here for consideration) Also – “Talking Back to Facebook” by James Steyer is an excellent book. Provides a “no-nonsense guide to the online world, media, and mobile devices.” Although geared toward parents “raising kids in the digital age” – I found it helpful for myself. He is NOT anti-technology, anti-TV, anti-FB. He provides background information and guard rails. I highly recommend.

      • Thanks Charis, we didn’t redact any of your comment. We’re happy to take your recommendation of that book even though we haven’t read it ourselves.

  9. Nyssa The Hobbit

    Ack. This brought back memories of the abusive narc ex-friends finding my blog and then having one of their friends “friend” me on Facebook. Then they sent me a message on Facebook threatening to sue for defamation. I *think* the account they got into didn’t actually have a whole lot on it, because it was a secondary account. The other one went into a lot more detail. But after the threat, I dropped a few mutual friends for safety reasons. 😦

    • It’s sobering to hear how dangerous Facebook often is for victims of domestic abuse.

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