By Greg Bartlett
Domestic violence victims often live in very understandable fear. Even if their abuser is not currently injuring them, the next day could be different. Or, if the abuser is arrested or the victim files an order of protection, sometimes the abuser will just become more violent and come back to kill the victim. Unfortunately, that has happened many times, leaving domestic violence victims justifiably afraid for their safety.
An order of protection just won’t be able to protect victims from the abuser, and so they constantly wonder if their nightmare will suddenly show up at work or home, despite the order to stay away. And even if police are called about a violation, chances are they may not be able to get there in time to really help. But what if police and victims were able to know where the abuser is at all times, and the victim could be alerted any time the abuser came near?
With GPS monitoring, that is not just a dream, but a reality. When domestic violence offenders are released on probation or parole, judges will sometimes order the offender to wear a GPS monitoring device. With the device, police can identify exactly where the offender is and will be alerted the moment the offender goes into forbidden areas, such as the victim’s home, place of employment, or children’s school.
If the abuser enters those restricted areas or comes too close to the victim, the GPS tracking system will alert the victim in addition to the police. While the police are headed out to pick up the offender, the victim can quickly find a way to avoid the abuser.
GPS monitoring has another advantage. Many GPS devices are enabled with panic buttons, and if the victim carries a device as well as the offender, police will be able to find out where the victim is, which especially helpful if the abuser enlists someone else to contact the victim and lure her away, and the victim can use the panic button if she ever feels like she’s in danger.
Despite its many advantages, GPS tracking is still limited. Like an order of protection, it can do nothing physically to protect the victim. However, with the increased awareness GPS monitoring provides, domestic violence victims can feel and be safer, knowing that they will be alerted if the abuser comes into their safe zones, and that police will immediately know any time the abuser is near.