Minnesota woman in white t-shirt lying on bed on her phone understanding domestic violence safety

Technology can be a powerful tool to help you leave an abusive situation. But people who are abusive often use technology to monitor and control their partners.

The ability to maintain your privacy plays a huge role in keeping yourself safe. Be careful when using technology to be sure it works for, not against, you. It’s important for you to have an internet safety and cell phone safety plan. The following are some things to keep in mind as you use technology.

Phone & Computer Safety Tips for Domestic Violence Survivors

How can I stay safe and protect my privacy on my phone?

You can set your phone to E-911 location services only in the settings menu. Check with your service provider on what safeguards and controls they offer such as blocking incoming text, picture, or video messages from certain numbers or blocking email messages or domains.

Your cell phone calls and texts may be monitored. Cell phones are like a GPS device, tracking your exact location in real time. Call and text history can also be retrieved by an abusive partner. Consider purchasing a pay as you go phone that you keep in a safe place to allow you to make sensitive calls. 

Connected Accounts. It is important to remember how connected our phones can be with others, especially if you share a connected account of any kind. This can include being on the same Service plan, or specific apps including Find Your Phone, Find Your Friends, or Life 360.

How can I protect my privacy on my computer?

Your computer might be monitored. Find a safe computer away from home such as the library, Internet café, friend’s house, shelter, or work. Always use safe computers when researching travel plans, housing options, legal issues, and safety plans. Also, be sure to consider if you have connected accounts on the computer that would allow activity usage to be monitored across devices (i.e. Google Accounts and Email/Internet History).

Clear Your Browsing History. If you must use a shared computer, you can clear the browsing history to better maintain your privacy. Be aware that removing cookies may clear saved passwords for online banking or other sites, which could alert others that you have cleared the history. Also, if someone notices that the history has been cleared, it could raise suspicion. If you want to be sure of not being tracked online and need internet privacy, the safest thing to do is to use a computer away from home.

To clear your browsing history, you will need to know which Internet browser you are using. If you are unsure what browser you are using, click “Help” on the toolbar at the top of the browser screen. A drop down menu will appear. A listed item will say About Internet Explorer, About Mozilla Firefox, Safari Help, Google Chrome Help, or something similar. That is the browser you’re using. Read more about clearing your browsing history for your specific browser here.

Use Private Browsing. Another alternative to clearing your browser is to use private browsing. Many browsers offer private browsing mode. This means that webpages you open and files you download while in private mode aren’t recorded in your browsing and download histories. All new cookies are deleted after you close the browser windows.

How to Open Private Browsing Guides:

Your email account may be read. Open an email account your partner does not know about on a safe computer and use that account for safety planning and sensitive communications. Keep your monitored account active with non-sensitive emails to avoid suspicion. You will want to create unique passwords that your abuser cannot easily guess. Avoid using pet names, children’s names, important dates, etc.

Social media can leave you vulnerable. Check out your privacy settings and make sure they are set to the level of privacy you want. Keep in mind that even if you set your social network page to private, it doesn’t guarantee your information is completely private. Your friends’ friends can see your postings, and your friends may not be guarding their privacy as closely as you do.

More Technology Resources

Given technology abuse has changed as it vastly progresses, resources to protect individuals are still being discovered and developed. Here are a few additional tech abuse resources to consider:

  • Safety Net Project – Exploring technology safety in the context of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and violence against women.
  • Clinic to End Tech Abuse – This page provides a collection of materials, tools, and resources that we have created to help IPV survivors, support workers, and technologists discover and address tech-related risks.
  • Stopncii.org – Stop Non-Consensual Intimate Image Abuse.

Contact Day One

If you have questions or concerns about protecting your online privacy, call the Minnesota Day One Crisis Line 1-866-223-1111 to speak with an advocate (interpreters are available), text 612-399-9995, or click the CHAT NOW button on this site to connect with a Day One advocate. A Day One advocate is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

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