As professional private investigators, at times we are called in to family law cases to determine if the client is secure. Divorce is very emotional and therefore can be volatile by nature. Although many are settled quietly and respectfully, some divorces can bring out behaviors that may put a client at risk.
Advanced Professional Investigations has received calls from family law attorneys representing clients that, after years of abuse, the clients finally have the courage to leave the relationship and start proceedings for divorce. Unfortunately, in some of the cases, the potential for escalation and struggle for control may be present. Actions such as harassment, physical and electronic stalking through the use of texts, emails and GPS tracking devices, begin to both appear and increase.
One particular case stands out: a woman had endured years of physical and emotional abuse. She had several young children. She did not have the courage to leave the marriage, nor the support of others. The fact that her home was in a very remote area also meant that police response usually took over an hour.
Her isolation was an effective barrier to seeking help. The final beating she endured left her unable to walk for several weeks. Her husband was arrested, ordered to leave the house and had a protection order put into place against him; but amazingly enough, was still given visitation rights with the children. Harassment began immediately in the form of phone calls and texts – then through the children, and even through the children’s friends. She was devastated, and was convinced that she would not make it to the court hearing without physical harm.
Her attorney hired API, explaining he felt security measures would be appropriate and that she was afraid for her life. From an investigator’s perspective, we first needed to assess her home and neighborhood for risk factors, and check her vehicles for GPS tracking devices.
By the time we had been brought on the case, her soon-to-be ex-husband had already broken the protection order several times by showing up at the home, so his disregard for authority needed to be taken into consideration. Leaving the residence was not an option for her at the time.
In assessing the risk factors of her residence, we determined an alarm system was needed. We also pointed out the highest risk areas of entry to the home and called in a lock smith to change all of the locks and codes to the garage. As we considered her case to be high-risk, we assigned armed security at her residence 24 hours a day and conducted anti stalking surveillance. Our presence made a statement, and proved to be a deterrent; during the time we were there, he showed up twice. Each time, we immediately contacted the police and documented his presence. We then worked with the Victims Advocate Unit in the area and the police to ensure her safety, until she was escorted by API investigators to court.
A great deal of detail has been left out in this retelling. This has been the most extreme case we ever had, causing API’s investigators many restless nights. Unfortunately, although extreme, the situation itself is not uncommon in divorces.