Cover Your Tracks

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Internet and Computer Safety
The internet is a great source of information, and email can be an excellent way to communicate with family and friends. But someone who has access to your computer may be able to see what sites you have visited, or read your email. If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that your abuser does not have direct or remote (hacking) access to.

Your computer and telephone keep records. Get familiar with what information is being saved. Here are some general guidelines. For many women, this information can be complex and overwhelming. If you are not sure you can be safe, do not use a computer or telephone that your partner has access to. You can use computers at a library or a payphone to reach out for help.

• If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people 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 and Internet activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programmes like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.

• It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviours such as suddenly deleting your entire history if that is not your regular habit.

• If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use your computer since an abuser might become suspicious. You may want to keep using the monitored computer for innocuous activities, like looking up the weather. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or homes or ask for help.

Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a helpline instead.  If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.

• Computers can store a lot of private information about what you look at via the Internet, the emails and instant messaging you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities.

• It might be safer to use a computer in a library, at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.

Adapted from NNEDV who have carried out considerable work on Safety and Technology. See for further details.