National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Technology Safety for Survivors

Technology safety is a very important issue in the domestic violence community. Technological advances have great benefits but there are also drawbacks and caution must be used, especially when communicating online.  People often don’t realize that the information they post online may reveal more about themselves than they intend. We sat down with an expert in the field to get insight and tips on safety. The following is our short question and answer session:

Where did you learn about online safety?

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) provides a great training program called Safety Net: the National Safe and Strategic Technology Project. Safety Net educates victims, their advocates and the general public on ways to use technology strategically to help find safety and escape domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking.

What advice do you have about internet browsing safety?

The most important thing to remember is to use a safe computer, one that the abuser has absolutely no access to. You can use a computer at the public library, at a friend’s place, a local internet cafe, etc. The reason for this is that everything you do on a computer can be tracked. Clearing the browsing history is not enough of a precaution because abusers can install spyware on your computer to track your usage even if they no longer have physical access to the computer.

What are some best practices for communicating safely online in regards to disclosure of personal information?

It is always best to disclose as little as possible online. You never know who may be reading what you write. Do not write anything you would not want an abuser to know. Think before sharing  any information about yourself or others that can identify you, including  names, specific locations, or any other unique personal information. It is also important to understand that email is not a secure form of communication; it can be tracked. Sending emails should be treated in the same manner you would treat sending postcards, they can end up anywhere and anyone can read them.

What are some other general tips you would like to share?

The following are some general tips provided by NNEDV:

Trust your instincts: If you suspect an abusive person knows too much, it  is possible that your phone, computer, email or other activities are being monitored.

Create a new email 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.

Change passwords and pin numbers: Some abusers use victim’s email and other accounts to impersonate and cause harm. If anyone abusive knows or may guess your passwords, change them quickly and frequently.

Use a donated or new cell phone:  When making or receiving private calls or arranging escape plans, try not to use a shared or family cell phone because cell phone bill records and phone logs might reveal your plans to an abuser.

10 replies
  1. CAROL says:

    My abusers have three main goals: 1.to cause me to not exist (or to cause the appearance that I don’t exist), to prevent me from having employment, transportation, income; 2.to make me appear to be an abusive person who is a whore, drug addict and alcoholic; and 3. to cause the appearance and belief that I am crazy or psychotic.

    All the methods and techniques are that of a relative of mine. Lately, my ten year old son’s birth certificate went missing., the info. previously on my credit reports is no longer there (now that I have all three and would have been able to use them to report identity theft), I’m supposedly “psychotic”, my abusers have things set up to appear as if they do nothing to me, etc.

    I was told that my computer is bugged: ” Somebody paid me $500.00 to bring your laptop out to a car. They connected a computer to it, did something on the keyboard, and then put a chip in the computer and in the air card. I did it while you were asleep.” Then I was told that it never happened.

    I get told that I can’t prove anything. I’m supposed to be an owner of an estate with a relative, and for some reason cut off. (Which means, a white collar crime has been committed against me). Nobody will investigate or help me.

    I had never previously associated any abuse on me with money; but it involves identity theft of my identity. Everything is twisted around to make it look like what is really going on isn’t happening, etc. I sent an email to my local abuse organization, got a response from them to call. I called. She hung up on me; it’s the Coalition Against Rape and Abuse (CARA). My local abuse organization refuses to help me. I’m going to publicize this: The object is to make me disappear. If I end up dead. Everyone knows nobody would help me.

    • Pamela says:

      Carol your genuine expression touches my heart. I too suffered at the hands of a master manipulator. His monitoring of my every communicaton caused such misery I chose not to access cell phone or internet. We know isolation is part of the plan. In an active abusive relationship, we generally don’t even have access to research what remedies or services are out there to help us. I didn’t even know about the National Hotline. I believed him when he told me local police were in his pocket, and I didn’t know who or how to tell! Four years later my case finally settled and his decades long sentence brings me out of obscurity. As survivors, we must unite to maximize our awareness efforts.

  2. CAROL says:

    Furthermore, I want everything publicized. I am not going to be one of those women that people think is “crazy”; end up dead or gone somehow, and then have my children hearing on the news someday: “Oh, she kept saying that she thought something like this would happen, but we all thought she was nuts.” I’m not hiding from my abusers.

    Besides that, there have been attempts to make people believe (and my children) that I “took a bunch of money (about 2 million dollars) and ran off with some man.”

  3. Angeline says:

    Hello,

    I have been in a relationship for about 2 years now. The other night i called the police because i was scared of my partner we got int a argument and he started hurting me police came to my home but because he had scratch marks on him I didnt get a dvo or the epo . I called for help cause he choking me and smuthering me with a pillow and putting his arms around me tigtly and saying thing how i am his only how my face is only his. I ended up being the one in trouble caus ehe has marks on him from self defence to try get him off me. I feel that the police in these cases if not enough evidence if your not hurt bad enough no evidence you wont get help from them.

    I will never call polivce again for help when i am scared or if it happens again.
    I want to apply for one against him
    he hurt me i only scratched hi self diffecnce its not fair that police put order on me
    its a joke.

    He says its not him
    and it wont happen again but it does

    • CAROL says:

      When the abuser claims it won’t happen again, but it does anyway…..it’s because the abuser isn’t controlling his or her own behavior (due to an inability for some reason..take the abuser to a doctor to find out what it is…)
      OR
      won’t and doesn’t want to because the person wants to be rid of you, or enjoys abusing you, or hates you, or whatever…anyway..for the most part, the reason is because:

      IN the abuser’s mind….IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT. ( “It’s her fault.” “It’s his fault” “It’s a bad day’s fault” It’s the drug’s, alcohol’s, bipolar’s, next door neighbor’s dog’s, cat’s and the car’s fault” “It’s everything else’s and everyone else’s fault, but not mine.”) In the abuser’s mind: YOU made him or her do it.

      IN REALITY: The abuser IS DELUDED. The abuser MUST learn that his or her own actions are his or her own danged fault because THE ABUSER IS MAKING A DECISION TO BEHAVE IN THAT WAY and then DOING the behavior.

      IF it isn’t him when in reality it most certainly is him: HE IS DELUDED, and wants you to be deluded too. As long as he keeps convincing himself that he has pulled the wool over your eyes by lying…he will believe that you are deluded because you should be because he deluded you. (in his mind). DO CALL THE POLICE. EVERY SINGLE TIME. LEAVE THE HOUSE, and call the police. Scream out the windows, the doors, wherever.

  4. CAROL says:

    The first two things that abusers want their victim to do is:
    1. Be isolated (by isolating the victim; or by isolating/alienating everyone else from the victim. and feeling dejected and that the victim can’t do anything about anything.
    2. Keep their own mouth shut about anything. (the abuser wouldn’t want to be embarrassed about his or her own behavior). Besides, the abuser has a need to be able to continue being abusive.

    SO, Yap everything! Hey, if it weren’t being done in the first place; nobody would have to report, talk about, or discuss, or consult with anybody, respond, react, or take nececessary/ appropriate actions regarding the incidents in the first place. AND, nobody would have to be embarrassed about their own abusive behavior, if a person isn’t being abusive to anyone. Right?

    AND,

    Always remember..the victim has the upper hand because the abuser gives us control over what we’re going to do about it! Yay! NO JUDGE, COP, OR PERSON can, or will FORCE an abuse victim to have to stay with an abuser or attacker. THERE is NO mandate manmade, or natural that requires a victim to stay with someone who does not like him or her so much that he or she has to stay there getting attacked.

  5. Alexis A Moore says:

    The use of technology by abusers is very common. Cyberstalking has been making news headlines more and more but not enough. Victims, advocates and all who have vowed to serve, love and protect them need to know how the use of technology today has increased the batterers reach.

    I am one of the lucky one’s who has survived domestic violence, stalking and cyberstalking. I believed falsely that there were privacy protection programs in place and that as a former high-tech investigator reporting the use of technology to stalk would be an easy task. I am living proof it is not.

    For 5 years I have been advocating for improved privacy protection measures for victims of crime and I am hoping those reading this blog today will reach out and unite with me to help in aiding all victims of crime in the fight against the use of technology to stalk.

    Batterers will only have the upper hand if we allow them too. They prey on the weak, timid and the unprepared.

    I am an advocate for self-help and for victims to be their own best advocate but they must have assistance in order to do this and that is why I founded Survivors In Action-so that no other man, woman or child would endure what I did 5 years ago.

    Ignorance is not bliss and victims deserve all of the resources and protections we can provide to them.

    Alexis A. Moore, President
    Survivors In Action
    “No Victim Left Behind”
    survivorsinaction.com
    AlexisAMoore.blogspot.com

    One person can make a difference! If you are a victim of domestic violence, cyberstalking, traditional stalking, sexual assault or a cyber crime you are not alone! Reach out for help and hold those accountable who fail who are paid to perform.

  6. Allison says:

    He knows I wouldn’t say anything…he knows it’s embarrassing to me and that my family would probably not believe me. They might also return to coaxing me into staying with him. When I have tried to mention our arguing, it is our fault. It doesn’t matter that he might have hit me, it is still OUR fault. So, tehy won’t listen to me.

    I just had my prolift mesh removed, and all those around me didn’t believe that I could be sick like I was for so long. *8 months). The mesh had eroded “down there” and was causing pain and bleeding, bot to mention EXTREME fatigue. NOBODY believed me-I bet nobody would believe that my husband pushed me hard enough today to make me fly backwards, hit an aluminum garbage can, and make what I was holding (a bowl of dog food) fly all over the carpet. He told me afterwards that he was sorry. He pushed me too hard, but he also said I had been being talking down to him. What about the fact that I asked (from the other room) “Could someone please let the dog out?” He came into the room I was in and said nobody can do anything with the dog (meaning him and my 3 kids). They heard him talk to me like that in the other room, so what do you think happened when I came into the next room where the kids were and asked if one of them would go fill up the dish with food? I got an eye roll, a “no”, a total LACK OF RESPECT. Gee-I wonder where they picked that up from! My husband had just made it perfectly clear that nobody was to help me with the dog.

    You said it right when you said “it’s never their fault.” “You made them do it.”

    Allison

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