Cellphone-related concerns for domestic violence victims

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2015 | Domestic Violence

One of the things a domestic violence victim may be worried about is their abuser harassing them via their cellphone. There are many different ways a domestic abuser could potentially harass their victim through a cellphone, such as making threatening calls, sending threatening texts or trying to spy on them through their cellphone (such as by trying to track their location via a cellphone’s GPS). 

There are legal mechanisms aimed at protecting domestic violence victims from harmful conduct from their abuser, such as cellphone-related harassment. Protective orders are one such mechanism. When put in place, such orders can put a variety of restrictions on a domestic abuse perpetrator, including restrictions on communications, such as cellphone communications, with the victim. Domestic violence attorneys can provide information to domestic abuse victims on how a protective order might be able to help with preventing harassment from an abuser, what the process of seeking out a protective order involves and what steps to take if a protective order is violated.   

Special cellphone-related harassment concerns can arise for a victim of family abuse when their current cellphone plan is one they share with their abuser. Thus, getting out of such a shared plan is something that a domestic violence abuse victim may greatly desire. Currently, in another state, Pennsylvania, a bill is being considered that is aimed at helping domestic violence victims who desire to get free of a cellphone plan they share with their abuser. 

The bill would make it so cellphone companies would be required to allow domestic violence sufferers to leave a cellphone plan they share with the perpetrator of the violence upon being shown appropriate proof that domestic violence occurred. Additionally, it would make waving early termination fees for such exiting of a plan by a domestic violence victim a requirement for cellphone companies. It would also put time limits on how quickly cellphone companies have to take action upon being given valid domestic-violence-related requests for a plan exit or a new phone number.

Reportedly, no state yet has such a law on the books.

What do you think of this proposed domestic violence law Pennsylvania is considering? Do you think it would substantially help with protecting domestic violence victims from cellphone-related harassment by their abuser? Do you think Texas should consider having a similar law?