Technology can be a positive tool for victims of domestic violence to access support and information. However it can also be used as another way to control or manipulate the victim of an abusive relationship.
On every page of this website, there is a button that says ‘LEAVE NOW’ on the top left hand corner of the computer screen. Click on this button if anyone enters the room while using this website. It will close this website and redirect the browser to your home browser.
Abusers often use ways of controlling or monitoring their victim’s actions, which can include their online activities. Internet browsers generally record the websites that an Internet user has visited, and ‘spyware’ and ‘keylogging’ programs can allow a computer user’s actions to be tracked without them being aware of it.
If you are in an abusive relationship, there are some precautions that you should take when using the Internet.
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. Also many phones let you ‘lock’ the keys so a phone won’t automatically answer or call if it is bumped. 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.
Use a safer computer. If you need to use the Internet, try to use a computer at work, a public library, community centre, a trustworthy friend’s house, an Internet café, or a women’s refuge. This is particularly important if you are looking at sensitive websites. It is safer to use a computer that is less accessible to your abuser.
Be careful when communicating online. Because messages sent through email accounts, social networking sites (such as Facebook) and instant messaging services can be tracked and recorded, it is preferable to use other ways of seeking help, if they are available to you. These could include telephoning a domestic violence helpline, women’s refuge or the NSW Police Force. After communicating online, always ensure that you properly log out of websites.
Create a new email, Facebook or instant messaging account. If you suspect that anyone abusive 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. Look for free web-based email accounts (like yahoo or hotmail), and do not provide detailed information about yourself.
Create an alternative email account. Do not create or use an alternative account on any computer that your abuser may have access to. Create an anonymous user name and account you can use on a safer computer, but do not provide detailed information about yourself.
Protect or change your passwords. Choose passwords for your email and other online accounts (such as online banking accounts) that would be difficult for your abuser to guess, particularly by avoiding personal details such as birthdays, nicknames or family details. You should also try to avoid sharing your passwords with other people.
Google yourself. See if your private contact information is can be found online. Go to Google and do a search for your name in quotation marks: “Full Name”
Save evidence and consider reporting abuse or stalking. Messages left via texts/answering machines can be saved as evidence of stalking or abuse. Keep a record of all suspicious incidents. You can report abuse, violence, threats, stalking or cyber-stalking to police and the abuser can be charged with a criminal offence. Police or Pat Thomas House can assist if a violence restraining order is required.
What is stalking? REPEATED OR UNWANTED BEHAVIOURS from an individual that is harassing, intimidating or threatening.
Stalking is most common in intimate partner relationship. Many times there will be an increase in stalking behaviour after leaving a controlling relationship.
GPS Technology DOES THE STALKER FIND YOU IN PLACES YOU HAVE TAKEN YOUR CAR?
Ask the Police or a trusted mechanic to search the car for a GPS tracking device.
Check your car for objects that may have a GPS tracking unit attached or installed, such as a mobile phone, computer, dog color or a watch with GPS capability.
DOES THE STALKER FIND YOU IN PLACES YOU HAVE TAKEN YOUR MOBILE?
Adjust your mobile’s GPS or location settings. Turn off your location applications on your mobile phone.
If you need help adjusting the location settings on your mobile, contact or visit your service provider and ask a salesperson to turn off all your location applications and GPS capability features.