Frequently Asked Questions
The below FAQs will hopefully answer any questions you may have when using the app, collecting your documentation, interacting with the courts, and more. To learn more about the meaning of terms used throughout the app, please take a look at our Glossary.
Q. What Is Considered Abusive Behavior and When Is It a Crime?
A. There are many types of behaviors that may be considered domestic violence, stalking, cyberbullying, harassment, and/or other crimes. Trust your instincts – if you don’t feel safe and are concerned with someone’s behavior, seek more information or ask for help. To learn more, see the Types of Abuse section of the app, visit www.WomensLaw.org for state-specific crime information, or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s Is This Abuse? page. If you’d like to talk to someone now about what you’re experiencing, see this list of Helplines and Resources.
Q. How Can Documenting Abuse Be Helpful?
A. Recognizing patterns of behavior to help with safety planning. Documenting abuse can help you recognize patterns of behavior, identify when behavior is becoming frequent or dangerous, and provide evidence to law enforcement, an attorney, or a court if legal assistance is sought. It’s often recommended that survivors maintain a documentation log and this app is just one possible way to do that. There is also a documentation log available to print or save on a computer if that is a safe and more preferred option.
Q. How Can I Strengthen the Documentation?
A. There are certain things you’ll want to include with the documentation to help ensure it’s as useful as possible. Although we cannot guarantee what will be allowed into court, ensuring your documentation was collected in a certain way and that it contains specific information can be helpful in that process. Review these Documentation Tips for general evidentiary considerations and information on the differences between strong evidence and potentially inadmissible evidence.
Q. How Do I Upload My Content?
A. Here are Steps to Upload Content:
1. Click on “Documentation” at the bottom of the Home Screen and then choose “Document Incident” to begin documenting incident details.
2. You can also choose the “Start Documenting” rotating screen from the Home screen. You will be prompted to choose a Documentation Type (Messaging, Email, etc.), followed by optional fields to provide more details (date of incident, narrative), and a place to attach documentation (this can be images already in your gallery or photos or video you take from the app).
3. Remember to always press “Done” to save each documentation log. It is important to remember if you are uploading pictures, messages, or other media, that this information may exist elsewhere on the device (for example, photos and videos may also be in your Gallery). It also may be backed up on your device or in your personal cloud-based storage, and could possibly be accessed by someone else without your knowledge. It’s important to think through the risks of having the content stored in these places, and to carefully decide how you want to proceed.
Q. What Are Incident or Documentation Details?
A. Incident or Documentation Details identify the what, when, and how of your
documentation. This can include an image, text message, social media post, video and more. These details include the date, time, and content of the evidence. In the Documentation portion of the app, you can include all relevant and identifying information about one particular incident, or include information about several incidents.
Below are all of the fields in each incident log, along with a short definition. While not every part needs to be filled out, try to fill in as much as possible.
Title: A short description of what happened. Example: Threatening Email.
Date: The date this particular incident happened and ended; or if it's ongoing how long it’s been going on.
Evidence Type: What type of technology was used. Example: email, text message, social media post, video, etc.
Additional Narrative: Any other details you remember about the incident.
For more information, visit the Documenting Abuse section.
Q. How Do I Use the Filter Feature?
A. Here are steps to show how to filter your documentation:
1. The filter feature, the icon located at the top right side of the My Documentation page, allows you to sort your documents in the way that makes sense to you.
2. Choose from options to filter by the start or end date of the event that you input (if you don’t input a date, the date you entered the document will be the default), document type – similarly formatted documents are grouped together, or by title – either A-Z or Z-A.
3. You can change this feature whenever you are in your documentation page. For more information, see the Using My Documentation section.
Q. Where Is My Documentation Stored and How Do I Get Access?
A. All documentation uploaded into the app will exist on your device and with any cloud service you back-up your device to. You can access your documentation at any time by opening the app and clicking the “Documentation” icon in the bottom navigation. This documentation can be extremely important to you and any legal case you may pursue. Unfortunately, there are significant privacy, safety, and cost-related challenges that prevent us from currently providing an alternative option for storage. Please look into your cloud account to know how to access your content in the event that something happens to your device. If you would like, you can also email yourself content at a safe and private email (possibly one no one else knows about). You can also consider using an encrypted email service to boost your privacy.
Q. What Should I Expect During the Legal Process?
A. Both the civil and criminal legal systems can feel incredibly difficult to navigate and can take a long time to get through. To help you better understand how courts generally operate, visit the Preparing for Court section.
Q. What Do Courts Look for When Accepting Evidence?
A. Courts primarily look for two things – 1) Authenticity and 2) Form of Evidence.
What they require for technology abuse related (or digital) evidence may be very specific. Always try to keep the original message since that will be the best (and sometimes the only) way to identify the sender. To learn more about what courts look for and how to collect digital evidence, see the Preparing for Court section. For more information on what details to collect for different platforms (social media, text messages, etc), see the Documenting Abuse section.
Q. What Happens to the Evidence I Give the Court?
A. Generally, the evidence you have entered will stay with the court file for record purposes. It is unlikely you will get information returned to you. It is recommended that printouts be provided rather than the actual physical device. If you do plan to present your device to the court, it’s important to know that the court may seize your device until a ruling is made on the case.
Q. What Does It Mean to Secure My Device?
A. This refers to the important activity of increasing the security of your personal devices so that you enhance your privacy and minimize vulnerability for misuse. Devices such as phones, computers, tablets, and gaming systems, often contain personally identifying and sometimes sensitive information. Abusers may try to monitor, limit access to, or break these devices as a way to control, surveil, or isolate a person. It’s important to think through the ways you can protect the device itself so that someone else isn’t able to easily gather information from it or see your activity. Learn more about ways you can Secure Your Device.
Q. What Do I Do If My Device Has Been Compromised?
A. Your safety comes first! We want you to be safe while using this app. If you suspect that your device has been compromised, visit the What Do I Do If My Device Has Been Compromised section.
Q. What Is a PIN Code?
A. A PIN code is used to help secure your account to minimize the risk of someone accessing your documentation. To help increase your device security visit Device Security in the More section of this app.
Q. What is an “Unlock Code” and How do I Share It?
A. Unlock codes are unique numerical codes that you will send to anyone you are sharing your documentation with so they can access your encrypted content. This two-step process is meant to provide a layer of security to minimize the chance that someone else could see your documentation (someone who sees the link in the email, but doesn’t have the code). For more information on sharing content, see the Using My Documentation section and the Sharing My Content with Others section.
Q. What is Geotagging and What Does This Mean for My Documentation and Privacy?
A. Geotagging is when photos, videos, or other images include information that can identify where a photo or video was taken. This can mean the longitude and latitude and/or location markers/names of where an image was taken can be included in the metadata of the image. When uploading picture or video to the app, it is important to make sure the geotagging feature is turned off before a photo or video is taken if you are concerned about your privacy. Depending on how you send the photo or video, the geotag details may be accessible to others. Currently, in this app images and videos are shared by email which could include this metadata IF someone accessed the image and scanned it for the data. It’s important to note that this metadata may still be attached to any photos, videos, or screenshots taken prior to turning off the geotag feature. For this reason, be mindful of who you share these particular photos with. To turn off the geotag feature, look into your device settings and the setting for the device camera and turn off any geotag or location tag.
Q. How do You Access Your Data from Your Cloud?
A. In order to access your data, you need to log into your cloud storage. Make sure that you are accessing your cloud storage from a safe browser. Once in your cloud storage system, you will see a folder titled “DocuSAFE-Data.” This folder will contain your files. Because these files are encrypted, the content may appear jumbled up and may not make sense.
Q. Who Should I Share My Documentation With?
A. You may wish to share your documentation with someone for various reasons. You could be working with an attorney and need to share examples of the threatening / harassing messages to prepare for court. Or you may be
representing yourself in civil court and need to send yourself the content to print hardcopies. You could also be talking with law enforcement about possible
criminal charges and may need to send them some of your documentation. Or,
you may want to share some or all of your documentation with a friend, family
member, or send to your own email address. How you use your documentation is up to you. Learn more, including how to share content, under the Using My Documentation section.
If you have a question that isn't answered here, please send us a message through the WomensLaw Email Hotline.