Advice on how to use technology and online resources safely
There are many online resources that can help victims of domestic abuse find guidance, information and support. However, perpetrators of domestic abuse can also use social media or email and messaging services to abuse their victims as well as monitor what they are doing and prevent them seeking help and contacting relevant agencies and the police.
Keeping yourself safe online and with digital technology is fundamental. At the end of this section there are various resources with information and advice on keeping safe using other forms of technology including mobile phones.
All internet browsers store information about the websites that you have visited and this information could potentially be accessed by an abuser. A useful feature of all major web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari is the ability to browse privately. This means that no traces of your activity will be left on your computer, such as the history of sites that you have visited. This option can be found under the menu or tools options. Detailed advice on browsing privately can be found via the help option of your browser.
It is also worth clearing your browsing history, cookies (pieces of data sent by a website to your browser) and cache (where your browser saves copies of websites you have visited) after you have used your computer or mobile device. The method for doing this will depend on your browser. If you are unsure what browser you are using the following online tool will tell you. The Living Without Abuse website contains detailed information on how to clear website data from your browser. However, it is also worth checking in the help menu of your browser as new versions of existing web browsers are released the process for deleting this information may change.
Another way to protect your privacy is to set up a password or PIN for your computer or mobile device that ensures that only you can access it. Change the password regularly and ensure that you are the only one that knows it. Advice on how to set up a password or PIN can be found from the manufacturer of your device.
Although social media can offer victims of abuse a support network, it can also potentially be used by abusers to harass, intimidate and monitor people. Facebook and Twitter are the two major social media platforms and both have different ways to manage your privacy and safety when using them. It is worth visiting the Facebook Safety Centre and reading their privacy basics as well as reading the information on the Twitter Safety Centre website.
There are other social media platforms and mobile applications that store data in different ways. You should always read carefully the guidance on privacy and terms of usage for any new resource you plan to use to ensure that you are using it safely.
It is important to choose a password for your email that is unlikely to be guessed by another person. Preferably use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Do not write the password down where it could be found by someone else. Ensure that when you have finished using your email account that you log out. Do not tick the option that is found on many email providers to stay logged in on your device.
When you send an email it is automatically saved in the 'Sent Items' folder and if you start an email but do not finish it, your email will be saved in a 'Draft Items' folder. Similarly if you delete an email it will go in to the 'Deleted Items' rather than disappear permanently. To permanently delete an email go in to the folder, click on the email and select the option to delete it.
The following links provide further guidance and information about privacy and staying safe online