The internet can be a valuable source of information and support for survivors of domestic abuse, but it can also pose a threat to your safety. Many abusers obsess over their victim and have a tendency to track their online activity. If you have escaped your abuser, your online presence may also be dangerous because it can lead your abuser back to you. Applying simple rules to your internet activity can drastically improve your online safety.
Cleaning up your computer
Because your abuser is someone you know, they have likely at some point had access to your computer, laptop or cell phone. One way that abusers can track your online presence is by secretly installing monitoring or spying software. Another easy way they may spy on you is by turning on parental controls, and making you the child’s account which is monitored. If your abuser were to do this, everything the “child” does is reported back to the “parent,” meaning that anything you do is reported back to your abuser. Any victim of domestic abuse should check for this software. If you are not tech-savvy you can take your computer to a trusted computer repair shop.
After you have checked your computer for monitoring software, change all of your passwords to new, strong passwords. Do not make your password anything that your abuser might guess. If you have a cat named Fluffy, your password should not be Fluffy123. This not only includes your email, social media and bank accounts, but your wireless connection password as well.
E-mail and social networking
If your abuser continues to contact you via email, simply blocking their email address from your existing personal email account is likely not enough to prevent future contact, because they can always create new accounts. To put an end to contact you must create a new email account that only your most trusted contacts and colleagues have access to. Remain anonymous and be sure not to include any part of your name in the email address. This will make it more difficult for your abuser to find you. Also check to be sure the email service does not expose your real name in the “from” line when corresponding.
Delete all existing social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. If your abuser is aware of these accounts, he will find ways to check your statuses, check-ins and photos. If you want to continue using social media, delete all current accounts and recreate new ones with stringent privacy settings. Sometimes privacy settings can be tricky, and will leave a lot of your information exposed even when you think you have applied the strictest of options. Also be cautious of who you “add” on new accounts, avoiding any mutual friends that you and your abuser share.
Although online shopping accounts like eBay and Amazon may seem to carry harmless information, they are actually the most dangerous because they contain information regarding credit cards, email address and delivery details. When deleting and changing accounts, don’t put yourself at risk by letting these ones fall by the wayside.
Special thanks to Aeschleman Law for providing this article.
San Jose Family Law & Domestic Violence Attorney
1550 The Alameda, Ste 330
San Jose, CA 95126