When it comes to domestic violence and stalking, your partner (or the person causing you harm) might use technology to monitor and control you. Here are some things to keep in mind as you use technology.
- Your computer could be monitored without you knowing it.
- Your cell phone could be monitored without you knowing it.
- Your internet history might not be completely erased from your computer.
- Email can be intercepted by someone else.
- GPS trackers can be placed on your car or any other personal item, like purses, backpacks, and cell phones.
- If you’ve gone through the court system, be aware that some court systems publish records online, which can include personal information.
- Posts on social media are never truly private.
There are some measures you can take to use technology in a safer way. If you want to talk through any concerns you have, call our 24-hour hotline at 1-800-770-1650. You could also text IOWAHELP to 20121.
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, some workplaces, or possibly at school. Always use safe computers when researching things such as safety plans, housing options, local help, and other resources.
The person causing you harm could have access to your email account. You could try to open an email account the person causing you harm does not know about. You would want to do this 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 the person causing you harm. We have also had scenarios where abusive partners have mirrored a cell phone, making it difficult to do anything without the harmful partner’s knowledge. 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. Try to keep it somewhere that the person causing harm won’t know about.
Only post things you want the public to see or know. Once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control. It’s also important to 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.
Another tip for social media is to set boundaries and limits. Tell people not to post personal information, negative comments, or check-ins about you on any social media platforms. You can ask people not to post or tag pictures if you’re not comfortable with it.
Keep your passwords private if at all possible. Try to avoid sharing passwords to social media or other accounts with anyone.
If you have a friend in an abusive relationship, DO NOT post information about them without getting their permission. You could unintentionally jeopardize their safety.