The internet is a useful source of information and support. People who experience violence from a partner or other family member can find information online about support, legal rights and options, and the services that are available. However, it is important to learn how to use the internet safely, especially if you are living with a person who is abusing you.
For general safety planning information, click here. Below is some technology safety planning suggestions:
Use a safer computer
If the person who is abusive to you has access to your computer, he/she might be monitoring your computer activities. It is difficult to delete or clear all of the ‘tracks’ of your online or computer activities. Try to use a safer computer when you look for help, a new place to live, etc. It may be safest to use a computer at a public library, community centre, or Internet cafe.
There are many websites that can help women experiencing family violence. You can find contact information on our links to other services page. The main safety issue with internet surfing is that all ‘browsers’ – the computer program you use to surf – automatically store information about the websites you have visited on your computer in a variety of ways. This enables someone using that computer to find out what websites you have been visiting, either deliberately or by accident.
It is possible to erase the history and therefore no one else can see what sites you have visited. You will need to look at how to “erase browse history” on the particular browser you use. You can then select to delete (or erase) browse history. Some browsers also allow you to click an option to automatically erase the browse history each time, so when you close the internet the history is automatically removed.
Create a new email, Facebook or instant messaging account
If you suspect that the person abusing you can access your email, consider creating an additional email account on a safer computer. Do not create or check this new email from a computer your abuser could access, in case it is monitored. Use an anonymous name, and account: (example: firstname.lastname@example.org – not YourRealName@email.com). Look for free web-based email accounts (like yahoo or hotmail), and do not provide detailed information about yourself.
When you are finished sending your emails from a free email account like Gmail, make sure that you always sign out completely, especially if you are using the home computer. Click your username at the top right of the screen then click ‘sign out’. Even if someone uses the ‘back’ button on the internet browser, or tries to view the computer’s ‘history’, they won’t be able to read your emails.
Check your mobile phone settings
If you are using a mobile phone provided by the abusive person, consider turning it off when not in use. 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 the phone settings menu or by turning your phone on and off.
Get your own mobile phone
When making or receiving private calls or arranging escape plans, try not to use a shared or family mobile phone because the mobile phone bill and the phone log might reveal your plans to an abuser. Consider using a prepaid phone card so that you won’t get numbers listed on your bill.
Change passwords and pin numbers
If the person who is abusive to you knows or could guess your passwords, change them quickly and frequently. Think about changing the passwords for any password protected accounts – online banking, voicemail, etc. Use a safer computer to access your accounts.
WESNET Technology Safety Australia
There is a survivor toolkit available here.