WARNING Taking all of the actions on this page may not prevent an abuser from discovering your email and Internet activity. The safest way to find information on the Internet is to go to a safer computer. If you need assistance around safety planning with technology please contact us or your local crisis services agency.
If an abuser has access to your computer, they can monitor what you do by installing programs that keep a record of everything that happens on the computer. It may be safer to simply use a different computer when you look for help or a new place to live, for example. It may be safest to use a computer at a public library, community center, or Internet café. You can call your local crisis agency for more information around safety planning on your computer use.
If an abuser has access to your e-mail account, he may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. If you believe your account is secure than make sure you choose a password that your partner will not be able to guess and change it often.
If you believe your account is not secure, get a new, free e-mail address at a free e-mail site. Only use this e-mail address at public computers, such as computers are the public library, if you don’t want your partner to know you have it. Make sure the e-mail address does not contain information that may identify you.
Do not store your passwords, even if your browser has this capability. Change your passwords often, and use different passwords for different sites and accounts. Do not use obvious passwords, such as your birthday or your pet’s name. Use passwords that include both letters and numbers so that they are harder for someone to guess.
Be aware that your partner may be able to find out who you’ve called and who has called you by checking your phone bill. If possible, get a P.O. Box so that your cell phone bill can be sent directly to you. If you are concerned about your safety and privacy, keep change for a pay phone. You can also contact your local hotline program to learn about donation programs that provide new cell phones and/or prepaid phone cards to survivors of abuse.
If you are using a cell phone provided by the abusive person, consider turning it off when not in use. Also many phones let you “lock” the keys so a phone won’t automatically answer or call if it is bumped. When on, check the phone settings; if your phone has an optional location service, you may want to switch the location feature off/on via phone settings or by turning your phone on and off.
Online Social Network Sites
Social networking sites, like Facebook, Google+,MySpace and other online sites, are very easy ways for someone to get information about you, for example by monitoring who sends you messages and who your friends are. Use the privacy controls offered by these sites to restrict access to your page.
Travel and location
Sometimes abusers use a global positioning system (GPS) device to monitor their partner’s whereabouts. GPS trackers are marketed towards parents so that they can keep track of their children when they leave the house, but these legal devices can be misused to spy on other adults. These trackers can be placed on cars, cell phones, in purses, or other objects you frequently take with you or move around in. Be aware of this possibility.Some smartphones automatically come with GPS locations installed for use with applications or maps, you can turn off this option or we can teach you how to turn off this option.
You can ask agencies how they protect or publish your records and request that court, government, post office and others seal or restrict access to your files to protect your safety. You can find out how to restrict this information by calling the company which may publish your information. When asked by businesses, doctors, and others for your address, you can have the P.O. Box address or a safer address to give them. You can try to keep your true residential address out of national databases.
Further Resources On Technology Safety available by clicking this text.
Some information adapted from National Network to End Domestic Violence, www.nnedv.com.