Everything you do online is recorded. It is IMPOSSIBLE to clear your tracks completely. Your computer stores hundreds of bits of information about everything you do with your computer, including information about which websites you’ve visited, your passwords, and what your emails say. An abuser can easily track the websites you visit or read your email messages.
If you suspect your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusers 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 activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor your activities – even without having direct access to your computer. Using a separate computer is best, but you can protect yourself at home by familiarizing yourself with processes like private browsing, deleting your browser history, clearing your cache and deleting cookies.
You can be tracked
Your abuser can track your online actions – there is nothing you can do to remove your tracks completely. If you try to erase your tracks, your abuser might become suspicious.
If you think you might be in danger, use a computer at a public library, internet cafe or a trusted friend’s house. If your abuser sends you email, do not open it on those computers.
If you need help now, call 911 or the
- US National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
- US National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
- US National Teen Dating Violence Helpline 1-866-331-9474
- Email is not a safe or confidential way to communicate.
- Sending email is like sending a postcard through the mail. Anyone along the path can read what it says. If you need to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life, if possible, please call a hotline instead.
- If you must use email to discuss your situation we suggest you use an account that your abuser doesn’t know about. Set up a new account with a free email service like hotmail, yahoo, or gmail.
- Be smart about passwords to keep your abuser out of your accounts.
- DO NOT use a name or password that contains any identifying information (no names, nicknames, initials, birthdates, zipcodes, etc.) Instead use a name and password that contains a random mix of letters, CAPITAL letters and numbers (for example, HJ3v67Tn)
- Make sure you can remember the user name and password. If you must write it down somewhere, put it in a place your abuser is unlikely to find it.
- If the computer asks if you would like it to save your password or login information tell it NO.
- Disconnect the cellphone battery when visiting a legal or domestic violence office. Your abuser may be using an app or computer software that shows where you are in real time.
- If you think a tracking app has been installed on your phone, call or visit your carrier to have your phone reset to factory settings. This will disable all apps and allow you to re install only those you want.
- Password protect your phone and do not share the password with anyone.
- Use a hidden prepaid cell phone to make sensitive phone calls.
- Texts can be deleted, but an abuser could recover them.
Social Media Safety
- Block a potential abuser or stalker. Doing this hides all of your activity from that person when he or she is logged in.
- Don’t post private information like your phone number or email address
- Don’t post status updates about your location or tag pictures that tell where you are. Ask your friends not to tag you either.
- Check settings on all social media apps to ensure that location settings are off.