by Jann Blackstone-Ford & Sharyl Jupe
(Florida, U.S.A.) Question: I'm going through a divorce. Yesterday I found out my soon-to-be ex hacked my email account and changed all my passwords so he could read my private business. Then he changed them back, thinking I wouldn't know — but they send an alert and my email comes through my phone, so I knew what he was doing. He thinks I had an affair because he still can't believe I would leave him just because he's a jerk, so he's looking for some justification I was fooling around. I know you are going to say it's bad ex-etiquette, but what can I do about it?
Answer: It's not only bad ex-etiquette, but it also could be regarded as cyberstalking, and that's illegal. Hacking an ex's email is not new, but unless the victim feels he or she is danger, rarely does that person press charges. It really depends if this is an obsessed ex and your life is in danger or merely someone feeling particularly desperate one day and making bad choices. Hopefully, from your history with this guy, you know which it is. If it's an act of desperation, talking to him will probably do the trick, but make your boundaries clear.
After a breakup, people often continue to sleep together for various reasons and this sends mixed messages — especially if one of the parties wants to stay together. If you are doing this, or anything else like it, you may be contributing to the confusion. Make sure you're not doing anything that will keep your ex hanging on. That said, if your ex has acted irrationally in the past and you are frightened, consider going to the police. The police take cyberstalking very seriously and many have departments devoted specifically to problems with Internet and social-media interaction.
Unfortunately, it's common practice to share passwords — even PIN numbers — with your partner, but this can present a problem after a breakup. It gives them easy access to your personal life and even your money, so best practice is to change all passwords and PIN numbers as soon as you realize the breakup is final. You may even want to change the email accounts linked to your Facebook or other social-media accounts, so there is no way he can hack into your private business.
It goes without saying that your ex is breaking just about every rule of good ex-etiquette, but that doesn't mean that you have to break the rules when dealing with him. Being honest (Ex-Etiquette Rule No. 8) is always a good one to rely on, as well as rules No. 5 and 6, don't be spiteful and don't hold grudges. Finally, one rule your ex definitely forgot, Rule No. 9, is "respect each other's turf." Respect is critical to any successful relationship — even when breaking up.
NOTE: CONTRARY TO WHAT THESE AUTHORS SAY - MANY POLICE DEPARTMENTS DO NOT, UNFORTUNATELY, TAKE CYBERSTALKING SERIOUSLY. - EOPC