If you are being stalked or abused, take steps to keep your abuser from knowing you are looking for help. Click the "Safe Exit" button located on the right of every page on this website if your abuser enters the room while you are viewing it. It will close this website and redirect your browser to a neutral page.
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 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 do not 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:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
- National Sexual Violence Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
- National Teen Dating Violence Helpline: 1-866-331-9474
- SERV Hotline: 1-866-295-SERV (7378)
Email is not a safe or confidential way to communicate. Sending an 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, call a hotline instead.
If you must use email to discuss your situation, we suggest you use an account that your abuser does not know about. Set up a new account with a free email service like Gmail or Outlook.
Be smart about passwords to keep you abuser out of your accounts. Do not use a name or password that contains any identifying information (no names, nicknames, initials, birth dates, zip codes, etc). Instead, use a generic username and a password that contains a random mix of letters, with capital letters and numbers. For example Sf4v3FF71.
Make sure you can remember the username and password. If you must write it down, put in in a place where your abuser is unlikely to find it.
If the computer asks if you would like to save your password or login information, select "no" or "never."
In many browsers, there is an option to search privately so your results do not show up in the computer's browsing history. Locate the browser you use to find out how:
- Disconnect the cell phone 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. By removing the phone battery, your abuser will not have tracking access.
- 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.
- Be aware that while texts can be deleted, an abuser can recover deleted texts.
Social Media Safety
- Block, do not defriend, a potential abuser or stalker. Doing this hides all of your activity from that person when he or she is logged in.
- Avoid posting private information like your phone number or email address.
- Avoid posting status updates about your location or tagging pictures that tell where you are. Ask your friends not to tag you either.
- Check all your social media apps to ensure that location settings are off.