Many women are harassed, stalked and/or monitored through their phones and the internet. Having an understanding of technology and computer browsing is vital to maintaining your safety. You can contact Bonnie’s or The Domestic Violence Line to gain a better understanding as well as observing the following tips by WESNET – The Women’s Services Network.
You can also find valuable information on the e-safety website which includes a specific section for women experiencing domestic violence – www.esafety.gov.au
What is technology facilitated abuse?
Technology abuse is a form of controlling behaviour that involves the use of technology as a means to coerce, stalk or harass another person.
Examples of technology-facilitated abuse
Check your mobile phone settings
Get to know all the features and applications of your smart phone so that, if necessary, locations can be turned off and check-ins via social media can be disabled. For Apple users, disable such GPS-based features as Find My iPhone. Further information is available at Smart Safe.
Check your children’s devices
It can be easy to overlook your children’s devices, so don’t forget to check them also. If the perpetrator has access to the children’s devices they could also be misused to get information such as location, which places you at you risk.
Clear your search history
When you don’t want someone else finding out what websites you’ve been looking at, clear your internet search history. There are different ways of doing this depending on what computer and browser you are using.
Visit http://www.domesticviolence.nsw.gov.au/internet_safety for more information.
Use a safe computer
Anyone who has access to your computer can monitor your activities. ‘Spyware’ and ‘keylogging’ programs can be used to track what you do on your computer without you realising it. You cannot clear all of the tracks you have made of your computer activities but you are able to do a few things to increase your privacy. Use a safe computer when you are looking for help, such as one at an internet café or a public library. Also use a safe computer to change all internet passwords and usernames so that no-one has access to any of your accounts or data history.
Create a new email account
Change the password to your email account and create a new additional email address and use it as your contact with support organisations. Advise a close friend and necessary services of your new email. Do not create or check it from a computer your abuser can access.
Change your passwords
Change the passwords on all your accounts – social media, banking etc if there is any possibility that they could be known or guessed. Use strong passwords but be aware that changing passwords can also lead to an escalation of violence.
Use a payphone or a private prepaid mobile
Make all escape plans on a payphone or a private prepaid mobile phone. Avoid using a shared family phone to discuss these arrangements as the phone log or bill might reveal your plans.
Check your car for hidden devices
If you have realised that every time you drive, someone knows your whereabouts, check your car for hidden location devices by asking a trusted mechanic or police. Also double check that ALL location services on your phone/tablet have been turned off.
Save evidence and document all incidents
Document all incidents about stalking or harassment. Each one may seem minor but if there is a series of incidents police will be able to see a pattern. If you have decided to make a police report or statement, always ask them for a copy. If the harassing behaviour is online, it is recommended that you report it to the website. Most sites have links where abusive content can be reported.
For more tips about online safety visit www.acorn.gov.au
or get the esafety guide: https://www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/esafety-guide which has useful information about managing social media accounts