Many of us use computers and the internet to access information and connect with others. Unfortunately, computers and the internet can also allow an abuser to monitor, harass or stalk you. The information below provides some tips and resources to help you use technology in a safe way. If you have any questions or concerns for your safety, please contact an advocate.
- If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct or remote (hacking) access to. It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at community centers, a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.
- If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer and Internet activities—anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.
- It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints" of your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors such as suddenly deleting your entire Internet history if that is not your regular habit.
- Be careful how you use your computer or other electronic equipment (cell phones, handheld devices, etc.). An abuser might become suspicious if you change your normal usage. You may want to keep using the monitored computer for innocuous activities, like looking up the weather. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or apartments, bus tickets, or ask for help.
- Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.
- Computers can store a lot of private information about what you look at via the Internet, the emails and instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities.
Things to Know
“Corded” phones (landlines) are more private and less easy to intercept than cordless phones or analog cell phones.
Be aware you may not be able to reach 911 using an Internet phone or Internet-based phone service. So you may need to be prepared to use another phone to call 911.
Contact your local domestic violence program, shelter, or rape crisis center to learn about free cell phone donation programs.
Remember: If you are in danger, it might be safer to use a computer other than your own.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
To talk to an advocate about your technology concerns or to help you identify shelters, programs and other resources for survivors and victims of sexual and domestic violence, contact your local program.
SafeLink is a 24-hour, free and multi-lingual hotline in Massachusetts. An advocate can talk with you
U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or
TTY at 1-800-787-3224
U.S. National Sexual Assault Hotline
Hotline automatically connect you to a local U.S. rape crisis program near your phone number’s area code.
U.S. National Teen Dating Violence Helpline
Adapted from Safety Net http://nnedv.org/projects/safetynet.html