Hartley, Maxwell, & Castellano Attorneys at Law
Let Us Help You. Call Today. 805-919-8346
Let Us Help You. Call Today. 805-919-8346

7 tips for documenting domestic violence

One of the biggest problems with domestic violence is simple: No one sees it happen. If your spouse is abusing you, you may know the truth, but what's to stop him or her from denying it? Then it turns into a he-said, she-said situation that can drag on and on and may never reach a fair resolution.

To avoid this, the key is to document everything. Gather evidence. Have more that you can take to court than just your word. Below are seven tips that can help.

1. Write down dates and times.

Be specific in your journal of abuse. When did the incident happen? Exactly what happened? Where were you?

2. Photograph your injuries.

Writing down where your spouse hit you and how you were injured is a good place to start, but it's critical to take pictures to back up those claims. If possible, use a camera or a program that puts a timestamp and a date right on the photo.

3. Talk to witnesses.

If others did see what happened, or if you talked to them right after the incident, get their account. Have them write down what happened. Two accounts that tell the same story are far more convincing than one disputed account.

4. Set the scene.

In both writing and photographs, add descriptions and pictures of the scene. It may just be your living room, but it's important. Photos of damage to the home and furnishing can help tell the story of what happened in that room.

5. Save your digital evidence.

Maybe your spouse sent you emails, text messages, Facebook messages, and other things of this nature. Don't risk losing them. Keep screenshots on your hard drive and a digital storage platform that only you can access. Print out hard copies.

6. Record voicemail messages.

Yes, voicemail messages are already stored, but it can't hurt to record them again. You can do this with a cassette recorder or, perhaps more easily, with a computer. This way, you have files in multiple places. You don't lose access through some mistake made by the phone company or because your ex hacks into your phone and deletes the voicemails.

7. Hide your evidence.

You already know your spouse is willing to cross lines. Don't risk your evidence getting stolen and destroyed. Hide it. Store digital evidence in multiple places and with password protection. Hide physical evidence with friends and family members.

If all of this sounds extreme, it's critical to remember the lengths people will go to when accused of something as serious as domestic violence. If you're going to make those accusations, you need to be ready. Not only do you want to know your legal options and your rights, but you have to get the groundwork done in advance.

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