Technology and the Internet are powerful tools for anyone experiencing domestic violence. They can be essential resources to access help and information, and valuable platforms to connect with friends, family members, advocates, and service providers.
Unfortunately, they can also be used by abusive partners to begin, continue, or escalate abuse, making it all the more important to ensure your safety online.
Your computer and cell phone use can be monitored without you knowing it.
Your history can never be completely erased from a computer or device, even if you browse in “private” or “incognito” mode.
Email can be intercepted like physical mail.
Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers can be placed in your car or on items like your purse or cell phone.
Some court systems publish their records online, which could contain compromising personal information like names or addresses.
Keep your safety in mind when contacting support services and be sure to clear your browser history of content you wouldn’t want your partner to see.
Computers store information about the websites you visit. That means bills you pay and purchases you make are tracked, and messages or emails can be retrieved. You should always consider that a computer might be monitored when you use it and be careful with what you send others or post.
Safe computers can be found at your local library, Internet cafe, shelter, workplace, or computer technology centre; avoid using shared computers when researching things like travel plans, housing options, legal issues, and safety plans. Using safe browsing practices (like using a VPN) can help prevent abusive partners from tracking your Internet history.
Email can be a useful way to keep in touch with trusted friends and family members who may be aware of your situation. An abusive partner is likely to know this and may have access to your email account without your knowledge. To be safe, open an account your partner doesn’t know about on a safe computer and use that email for safety planning and sensitive communications.
Use several different methods of communication when contacting people so that you’ll know if they tried to reach you elsewhere, and keep your monitored account active with non-critical emails in order to maintain appearances. Encrypted email services may offer an extra layer of security.
Mobile phone safety
As technology has evolved, mobile phones have become increasingly embedded in our daily lives. This provides quick access to resources and information, but it can also give other people instant updates on your whereabouts, habits, and activities. Mobile phones can be used to track your location and retrieve call and text history.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, consider purchasing a pay-as-you-go phone and keep it in a safe place for private calls. Use a password on your phone and update it regularly. If you are concerned that your partner may be secretly monitoring your phone, consider taking it into a cell phone service centre to check for any spyware that may be downloaded.
Social media safety
Posts on social media are never truly private, no matter your settings: once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control. Be protective of your personal information and remember that phone numbers, addresses, handles, and personal details (like birth date, schools you attended, employers, and photos with landmarks) may make it easier for someone to reach you.
Set boundaries and limits, and ask people not to post personal information, photos, or check-ins you aren’t comfortable with. Check your social media settings to make sure your privacy settings are strict, and disable the ability for other people to tag you in their photos or posts. Similarly, don’t post information about people without their consent – you could jeopardise their safety or the safety of others.
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Article originally published by National Domestic Violence Hotline
All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.