Technology is ever-changing, and it can be used to jeopardize your safety or as a means to keep you safe. Since power and control issues are a part of domestic violence, abusive partners frequently use technology to monitor and control those they abuse. Here are some things to help keep in mind as you use technology.
Do you have a feeling that you are being monitored? Here are some things to make note of.
- Did you know that someone can monitor another person’s computer use without the user knowing?
- Did you know that a “history” cannot be completely erased from a computer?
- Did you know that cell phone use can be monitored?
- Did you know that a global positioning system (GPS) can be placed on your car, in your purse or in your cell phone?
- Did you know the some court systems are placing court records online and that they may contain personal information?
- Did you know that e-mail is like a postcard and can be intercepted?
There Are Ways to Ensure your Safety
Technology is a powerful tool for someone leaving a domestic violence situation, and our hotline advocates can help you (whether you are a victim, friend or family member) plan to use all aspects of technology safely.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse of any kind from an intimate partner, Hotline advocates are here to support you. Please note that Hotline advocates are mandatory reporters of abuse of people with disabilities. This means that to protect confidentiality, it is advisable not to disclose identifying information while speaking with a Hotline advocate.
As you surf the internet on your computer, the places you visit are stored on the computer you use. Bills you pay and purchases you make are tracked. Instant messages and emails can be retrieved. Keep in mind that as you use a computer, it might be monitored. Safe computers can be found at the local library, internet café, shelter, work or computer technology center. Always use safe computers when researching things such as travel plans, housing options, legal issues and safety plans.
Your abusive partner could have access to your email account. To be safe, open an email account your partner does not know about on a safe computer and use that account for safety planning and sensitive communications. It is a good idea to keep your monitored account active with non-critical emails in order to maintain appearances.
Cell phones can be a beacon, tracking your exact location in real time. Call and text history can also be retrieved by an abusive partner. Additionally, a location tracking device (GPS) can be placed on your car or in your purse. Consider purchasing a pay as you go phone that you keep in a safe place to allow you to make calls.
Only post things you want the public to see or know. Once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control. Be protective of your personal information. Your phone numbers and addresses enable people to contact you directly, and things like your birth date, the schools you attended, your employer and photos with landmarks may make it easier for someone to find where you live, hang out or go to school. Set boundaries and limits. Tell people not to post personal information, negative comments or check-ins about you on social media. Ask people not to post or tag pictures if you’re not comfortable with it.
Keep your passwords private – there is no need to share passwords to social media accounts with anyone. If you have a friend in an abusive relationship DO NOT post information about them without getting their permission. You could jeopardize their safety.