[A note to the reader: This article discusses information about domestic violence and sexual assault. The content may activate strong feelings for some individuals.]
Domestic violence and sexual assault can manifest in many ways. An abuser may use website viewing history, social media usage and personal emails as a way to maintain control over their partner. While the web can be a great way for us to connect with friends, find valuable resources and manage our day-to-day lives, it can also be used to collect information about you or track your whereabouts.
It’s important for everyone, including survivors of relationship and sexual abuse, to know your options and ensure your safety online. Keep in mind our advocates are available 24/7 by phone or during business hours via our online chat. Call us at 518-584-8188 for extra precautions and see our list of safety tips when using technology below.
Adjust your social media settings
It seems like everything revolves around social media these days, which certainly makes protecting your privacy tricky. The truth is posts on social media are never truly private—once it’s out there, it’s difficult to control. However, there are precautions you can take to ensure the maximum amount of privacy on your social media accounts.
- Make your profile private and disable the ability for other people to tag you in their photos or posts
- Consider blocking individuals who may track your whereabouts
- Change all your passwords
- Do not disclose your location on posts and do not post in real-time
- Be cautious of disclosing information on your posts like your place of work, phone number or school you’re attending
Arm your network and internet browsing
It’s important to keep your Internet connection secure in addition to your home and personal information. Internet security starts with the router, which communicates between the Internet and the devices in your home.
Keep in mind that computers store information about the websites you visit, the things you search on Google, the items you purchase and the messages you send. Be cautious and remember that computers can be monitored. If you are using a computer to research legal matters, safety plans or to communicate with an advocate, consider using a computer at a local library or workplace.
- Find a router with network-level protection, including automatic and signed firmware updates
- Choose a router with easy-to-navigate parental controls, guest networks and network management settings
- Make sure to always clear your browsing history or use incognito mode
- Consider investing in a virtual private network (VPN), which masks your IP address to help keep your browsing hidden
- Only browse sites that use hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS)
- Learn more about WiFi safety and ways to protect your privacy
Add an extra layer of protection to your devices and accounts
Cell phones, tablets and computers are embedded in our daily lives. It’s hard to imagine navigating life without them. As technology evolves, companies are developing more secure privacy settings and features like Face ID and two-factor authentication.
All situations are different and, in some cases, using a “burner phone” that you can destroy or discard after use may be the best way to safety plan. Talking with an advocate at Wellspring can help you know your rights and options when considering your safety. Call 518-584-8188 to learn more.
- Enable fingerprint or face authentication on your mobile devices
- Use two-factor authentication for an added layer of protection on your online accounts
- Use a password generator to update the credentials on your accounts and store them in a safe place that only you can access
- Don’t let browsers remember your passwords and always log out of your accounts
- Consider purchasing a pay-as-you-go phone and keep it in a private place
Wellspring is here to help
Wellspring provides comprehensive supportive services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault that are free, confidential and non-judgmental. To get in touch with a Wellspring advocate, call our 24-hour hotline at 518-584-8188. We also offer a web-based chat available during business hours.
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