If technology is being used to abuse, stalk or threaten you, it is very important to collect evidence of what has been happening, as long as you can do so safely.
Why do you need to collect evidence?
It is very important that you collect evidence of the abuse you are experiencing, even though it is understandable that you might want to remove, it so you are not reminded of it every day. This evidence will help to prove patterns of abuse over time and is a good way to give the police and the courts a reason to act on your behalf.
Evidence is also useful should you wish to report the abuse or threatening behaviour to the social media service, app, website or other service on which it was posted. This can help if you want the content removed or the abusive user to be blocked from using that service.
How to collect evidence
Collect evidence only when it is safe to do so, but make sure you act quickly in case the material is removed. It is important to provide factual proof of the abuse and the order in which it happened, so that it can be used as evidence in court.
Take note of the following advice before collecting evidence:
- Speak to a lawyer, legal service or the police about what is happening and ask them about the kind of evidence you will need to show that a crime is being committed.
- Be aware that there may be issues around the collection of images of people under 18. It is illegal to possess or share content that could be considered child sexual exploitation material.
Evidence should be collected carefully and stored safely:
- Take screen shots of abusive posts, texts or emails. If you are not sure how to do this, see our ‘how to’ videos on how to take screen shots on Apple devices, Android devices, Macs and PCs.
- Save or copy voicemail messages.
- Keep a record of any abuse using technology and suspicious incidents, as these may help to establish the wider context and demonstrate patterns of abusive behaviour.
- Evidence needs to clearly explain exactly what happened and the order in which it happened. Take careful notes about each piece of evidence you collect, such as a description of the evidence, the date and time it was collected and where it was collected from.
- Store all evidence securely and keep records of who has access to any physical documents, online files, and your devices (phones, tablets, computers and any storage devices such as USBs). This is important as the integrity of evidence needs to be maintained — the evidence must not be tampered with or manipulated in any way.
The NSW Police website has information on how to record stalking. A good starting point is the advice on ‘making a record of stalking’. The type of evidence needed might differ in your State or Territory so check with a lawyer or your local police.
There are a number of apps that can collect evidence, but only use these if the abuser cannot access your phone.
If you are collecting evidence about image-based abuse (the non-consensual sharing of intimate images) of a person under 18, you will need to follow the steps for reporting child sexual abuse material.
'How to' videos
Taking a screenshot on an Apple device
Taking a screenshot on a Mac
Taking a screenshot on a PC
Taking a screenshot on an android
Where can you get help to collect evidence?
A lawyer or legal service can provide advice about the evidence you need to apply for a protection order or to prove that the abuser's behaviour is criminal.
You, or a lawyer or legal service on your behalf, can also speak to the police about what evidence is required.
Types of evidence the police might need include your name and contact details, and whether you have a protection order in place. If you know who is responsible for the technology-facilitated abuse, a photograph of that person could be helpful along with their name, contact details, the car they drive and any criminal history.
Make sure you keep any relevant emails, photos and recordings, and make a note of relevant website addresses and usernames. It is also important to make a note of the dates, times and locations of any incidents and material you have seen.
After making a statement, be sure to follow the steps given to you by the police.
Read more on our legal help page.