Ramifications of GPS and Domestic Violence

Hello. Not sure where to post this but it seems like a good place.

Although not a lover of cars, I always enjoy this show. The most recent episode included a woman named Myrna whose estranged husband had placed a GPS device on her car without her knowledge. While there was good humor about the situation in general, I wished that the brothers would have taken a minute to acknowledge the seriousness of those implications.

The use of GPS by abusers to monitor domestic violence/stalking victims has been a horrible development. Husbands do not just need to be estranged to resort to this. There are a number of cases where women who are attempting to flee such situations are stopped by their abusers because of this tactic. The chances of severe injury or death dramatically increase when a victim is attempting to leave. These victims often have no idea that such a device has been planted on their cars.

There has been an increase in using GPS to help keep victims safe, such as mandatory tracking of abusers. However, this involves court orders, convictions, etc. These are difficult to obtain and many victims never pursue legal options.

Myrna certainly needs to have her car examined for a device. However, rather than screwing with her obviously controlling husband, she should report him to the police immediately.

Usually amused,



Who owns the car? If it was bought during the marriage, I imagine it’s “community property” and thus half his.

It’s always possible the GPS tag isn’t to keep track of her, but to protect his interest in the vehicle.

I had a recently ex-GF falsely tell the police $800 of “my” computing equipment was “ours,” then run for parts unknown with them. Sure wish I had GPS tracking on those puppies!


I would put the tracking device onto his car!

Guys should have recommended she trace any new looking battery cables.

Any permanent tracking device will be wired in somewhere, though may be spliced in somewhere else.

If it isn’t a wired one, then it will eventually die.

Please advise Myrna (if you can) that she needs to report to the police that her ex husband to be is stalking her. This is a federal offense. I was dismayed to hear the tone of the convesation that took place bewteen Mryna and “Click n Clack”. It is a serious offence so please do not take lightly the plight of women who are stalked and end up seriously hurt or worse by their controlling men.


I’m glad Myrna felt secure enough about her safety to be light-hearted about this guy’s stalking behavior, but other women whose partners are putting GPS devices on their cars may not be able to take it so casually. In fact, most can’t – too many of these cases escalate to violence. As a self-defense teacher, I regularly have students who’ve been stalked, and it’s a harrowing experience. I recommend that if you believe that your car is being tracked via GPS, please contact your local domestic violence hotline for advice, especially if their stalker has a history of threatening or committing violence. And they can help you navigate the criminal justice system, especially if the police don’t seem to take it seriously.

mrjoltcola: “Guys should have recommended she trace any new looking battery cables.”

If I remember correctly, they did mention something about looking for connections to the battery.

britton1923, as Tom and Ray get older, they seem to be more interested in humor and having fun than getting serious. It’s their show, and you should expect more of the same.

This is definitely a serious issue, but I think there’s a way she can have her stalker cake and eat it too:

Go to the mechanic and see if there is indeed a tracking device. If so, leave it where it is (don’t tamper w/the evidence!) and drive straight to the police station. Depending on what they advise her to do, she could leave the GPS device at the station, still on and operating.

That might be the best way to mess with his mind–he’ll know that she’s on to him, that she’s serious, that she’s got the law on her side, and that he’s in deep doo-doo (to quote Dinesh). And then she can go home and giggle at the thought of him sweatin’ bullets.

Now that I’ve actually had a chance to hear the caller and the complete back-and-forth, it didn’t sound all that sinister to me except for one point (which I’ll specify in a second). My assumption would be that he was looking for stuff to use against her in the divorce proceedings, possibly at the advice of his sleazy lawyer. And if she could establish that she knew about the GPS and sent it places where she could prove she never went (such as by attaching it to someone else’s car and then being seen by witnesses somewhere else altogether), his case would lose all its credibility.

The single exception to this interpretation was her comment that the guy had already been caught in the past reading her emails. That smells stalkerish.

I’m sorry to see that this still wasn’t taken seriously by many on the comment thread, and how many seek to minimize it. It’s a dangerous development. Emily’s quite right.

What Myrna should’ve done was to document the tracking device’s presence, contact her lawyer and the police, sought a restraining order, and had the police remove the device with a witness present. Playing games in the manner mingmar suggests is altogether unwise with an ex controlling and hostile enough to plant a GPS tracker on a car. (dadoctah: It doesn’t matter what the guy’s lawyer said. If he was any kind of a decent and/or smart fella, and his lawyer told him to do a thing like that, he’d say, “You’re fired.”)

I’m sorry that the guys aren’t more aware of these issues. They should be. Violence against women isn’t rare, and it’s not a secret that controlling behavior like stalking and tracking is connected to violence. A man on the brink of divorce killed his 28-year-old wife in Rhode Island last week; she had two children. Also last week a man in Skokie killed his daughter and toddler granddaughter. Last night, at a bar mitzvah, I asked a woman if she was all right, and she told me a panicked story about a call she’d just gotten from her ex-sister-in-law, saying that the woman’s brother had raped her; this brother had also raped the woman repeatedly when they were kids, and she was terrified that he might show up at her apartment, didn’t know where to go. Topeka’s stopped prosecuting domestic violence because the costs are astronomical; they’re hoping Kansas will still pick up the tab. (Yes, yes, I know, some women attack men. The victims are still overwhelmingly women.) As for me, I still have a hole in a door from where my ex punched it.

I’ve listened to Car Talk for a long time, and enjoyed it. But the guys laugh off stalking behavior, and sit by while another guy disrespects mothers, and apparently they’re talking to a bunch of guys who also think this stuff is hi-larious. Depressing, and who needs it? Not me. Goodbye, Tom and Ray.

" (Yes, yes, I know, some women attack men. The victims are still overwhelmingly women.)"
It Really Isn’t Just About Men.
It Takes Two To Tango.
This Really Isn’t The Forum For This Discussion, But Since It’s Already Here . . .

I have seen many women and many men who do things in a relationship that incite the other party enough to give meaning to the term “justifiable homicide.”

Many men and mant women are driven to behave very badly by the other half of the relationship. One recent discussion featured a woman who was so vile and rude that she even riled some men who were involved only in the discussion.

So, I guess in some cases the agrieved party has to do some soul searching. It takes two to tango. We’re only getting one side of the story in most of these individual abuse stories.

Happily married for 27 years (or is it 28 ?),

The reason “the victims are overwhelmingly women” is because that is the way law enforcement, the judicial system, and a large portion of the general public are programmed to think. If a man goes to the police or into a courthouse seeking protection from an abusive spouse or partner, he will be laughed out of the police station or courthouse. This is not helped by our own prejudices or even the outward appearance of man compared to woman, as in, men tend to be larger, more muscular, and appear more threatening than women. I recently got out of an extremely abusive marriage. During that marriage, I often had to go to work with black eyes, cuts and bruises, and, on a few occasions, concussions that came from being beaten with blunt objects like ball bats and hammers. I feel lucky to be alive today. Once the stories started being told in the courtroom, however, with the absence of physical evidence, my testimony was not credible and her lies were. Why? Because I am a man who is six feet tall, 270 pounds, and project a physical appearance of intimidation (or so I’m told), and tend to stick with the truth because I cannot lie and make it convincing, while my ex wife is five foot four, 120 pounds, and is a fantastic actress and liar. Her favorite acting bit is playing the victim. As ridiculous as it may sound, domestic violence does happen to men, it is just not reported or credible because of our own prejudices.

CSA: Ah, the old “she just wouldn’t listen” defense. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been driven to beat someone by THEIR behavior. Seriously, I have to wear special gloves because of injuries to my hands caused by other people’s behavior.

Sara: fix the door already. Not doing it makes you look like you can’t cope.

“Topeka’s stopped prosecuting domestic violence because the costs are astronomical…”

Really? I look forward to see your proof on that one.

@mark: “I am a man who is six feet tall, 270 pounds, and project a physical appearance of intimidation (or so I’m told)” Unless you’re in the gym all the time the people telling you that are just trying to be nice.

“I often had to go to work with black eyes, cuts and bruises, and, on a few occasions, concussions that came from being beaten with blunt objects like ball bats and hammers.”

Sounds to me like you just wouldn’t listen…
…to the universe telling you it was time to leave.

That being said, the OP’s basic point holds up: if someone is tracking your movements, it’s time to take it seriously and leave.

Littlemouth: What The . . .
. . . I Guess You Posted Before You Had A Chance To Think About And Understand What Mark9207 Was Saying, Eh ? Reread.

Mark should be commended for restraint instead of retaliation. Like I said, there are always two sides to these stories.


@Mark, I’ve read hundreds of appellate custody decisions from across the country over the last decade. Abuse of all sorts is frequently alleged by both men and women, but in the absence of documentation, I have yet to see the courts take it into consideration when making a decision. However, when there’s evidence of so much as a party losing his or her temper easily – man or woman, note – it’s taken into consideration.

If a woman attacks a man, he needs to call it in and/or go to the hospital to start making that paper trail. It may surprise you to know that women also avoid going to the hospital out of shame and fear. But you still have to do it. Otherwise the judges have nothing to go on. In fact men routinely call in DV in this town, and women are arrested for it. I’m very, very glad that I reported my ex to his social worker for being violent when we were still married – I’d meant to alert her that he needed help, and she made me see that I needed help, and to get out of there with my child. I’m still careful now, whenever he does anything as a noncustodial dad that’s dangerous or traumatizing to the kid, to call it in and make sure professional eyeballs have a look. Better to have the record than to let it all pass by and just hope nothing worse happens.

As for victim ratios: well, then look at homicides in domestic violence; there’s no clearer view of who did what to whom, because they’re awfully hard not to report. In NJ in 2009 the ratio of men to women dead at the hands of intimates and exes was 1:10. I expect the ratios were similarly skewed nationwide.

@littlemouse, you know perfectly well that abuse victims are sometimes so sunk in depression or confusion or hope that things will get better that no, they don’t leave. It’s not right to blame them. On Topeka, review the news of the last two weeks. ATC did a segment only last week.

As for the door – I’ve thought about replacing it, and decided no, so long as I have to deal with him daily as a co-parent, I’ll keep it as a reminder of what he’s willing to do. It’s too easy to elide these things, figure it’s in the past, and that nobody you want to think well of would behave like that. I’m not worried about what other people might think about my coping skills. The same guy taught me to take talk more seriously, too. Used to talk a lot about hanging up a punching bag so he could pretend it was his boss. I thought that was unpleasant, but thought he was about the exercise. No, he just really had a lot of hostility towards his boss. Now, years after our divorce, he aims that hostility at me, so I make sure it’s well-documented by professional third parties, use the law when necessary, and do what I can to stay safe.

@CSA: For shame. littlemouse is right; no one else’s behavior drives anyone to violence. People have control of their own hands. They teach that much in elementary school: if someone’s bothering you, walk away; if they follow you, report them and let an authority detain them and handle it, and walk away.

For what it’s worth, I have talked to others about the situation I have been through, and it seems it is a very common phenomenon, and this is not just coming from men I have spoken to either. I have heard many more accounts of violence against men than against women. Women I know and work with have also told me they have beaten on their significant others. One woman I worked with for a while even told me of a boyfriend she had whom she was violent towards, and he finally had enough one day and retaliated. A neighbor called the police and her boyfriend was hauled to jail, despite her telling them she started it and beat him a lot before he retaliated. The police said that was beside the point; he hit her, so he goes to jail. A man I work with recently went through a divorce from a woman he feared due to her violence and threats against him. She told him that if he came home, she would kill him, so he avoided his own house for two days, came home weary from two days of no sleep, and did not find her there, so he went to bed. Two hours later, he was awakened by several police officers telling him he was under arrest for domestic battery. He said he did no such thing and wanted to know what evidence his wife had shown them that he had beaten her. They told him it was not appropriate for them to ask her to show them bruises and what not, and since she had said he had abused her, he was going to jail. Frankly, I don’t think that females form the overwhelming majority of domestic violence victims, but that male victims either do not report abuse or are not believed or taken seriously when they do, and malicious women allege abuse to get what they want, which drives the number of reported incidences of abuse higher.

Littlemouse: I do not consider myself to be a particularly intimidating looking person either. I am not in the gym all the time and have worked physically demanding jobs my entire life (lots of auto repair, factory work, hauling junk and scrap metal), so I don’t have a bodybuilder’s build, but rather a “working man’s” build, with enough insulation to keep me warm in the winter. Her lawyer did make the case that, in a fight, there would be no contest, so I could not have possibly been abused by her, and the judge bought it. And, yes, I was stubborn and wouldn’t listen to “the universe”. Hindsight is 20/20, though, and I learned a lot. That marriage was only the second romantic relationship I had ever had (both were terminated by me due to adultery by the other party), and I have learned enough to know I’m not looking for strike three. I’m 26 years old, have a little boy who is my entire life, thousands in leftover marital debt she was kind enough to accumulate in my name, and only about 75% of my income to cover all of this (yeah, she won it all including custody and child support thanks to this overly liberal blue state I live in). I will not be looking to complicate my life further or take a chance on ruining myself further. I’m listening to “the universe” now.

Sara: walking away is a good thought and I remember being taught that in elementary school, but my ex wife made that a non-option. If I tried walking away from her abusive behavior, she would threaten her own life and say it would be my fault if she took her own life. I eventually learned to ignore that on the likelihood that someone who actually intends to commit suicide will not tell anyone, they will just do it, and once I displayed the tendency to walk away anyway, the last time I tried to walk away from her before our marriage ended was the time she grabbed a hammer and beat me down with it. Fortunately, it was the smallest ball pein hammer I own. A larger one would probably have killed me rather than left me with permanent knots on my skull and a headache that lasted a month.

I’m sorry to hear about your respective situations, mark9207 and sarasmile. These issues are very emotional, and you both bring the weight of your personal experience to the discussion. However, I’m recommending that the thread end here, because it’s not relevant to the discussions of cars and their maintenance. When others express differing opinions about the dynamics underpinning such violence, they can directly or indirectly cause hurt and anger when they contradict the reality of one’s personal pain. Thank you for your consideration, everybody.