If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are.
Abusers tend to be controlling; They want to know your every move. Importantly, they don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor your computer and Internet activities – anyone can do it. In fact, there are many ways abusers could be monitoring you using Spyware, keystroke loggers, hacking tools, and more.
Note also that when you’re being monitored, it could be dangerous to suddenly change your computer behaviors such as deleting your browser history (if that is not your regular habit), so be careful not to arouse suspicion and put yourself in a dangerous situation.
You may want to keep using the monitored computer for normal activities, such as checking the weather, or browsing recipes. Use a safer computer–one that your abuser does not have direct or indirect (remote) access to–when possible, to find your local domestic violence shelter, research an escape plan, look for new jobs, find a new place to live, check prices of bus tickets, and so on.
Here are other security tips that can help keep you safe.
- Computers can store a lot of private information about what websites you visit, the emails and instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases, medical information, banking, and many other activities.
- It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities, but you can use safer practices.
- When you’re accessing information you wish to keep private from your abuser, consider using a computer in a public library, at a community technology center (CTC), at a trusted friend’s house, or an internet café–something your abuser doesn’t have access to.
- If it isn’t possible for you to use a different computer or device, use your browser’s “incognito” or “private browsing” mode. This can help you escape some low-level tracking techniques.
- To further increase your safety, use a VPN, or “virtual private network” service. This adds another layer to your digital safety, by cloaking your IP and ISP.
- Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are some of the least confidential ways to talk to someone about the abuse in your life. Please call a hotline instead. You can use a secure messaging app such as Signal, which can help keep your messages from being intercepted–but when your abuser has access to your phone, the abuser may be able to see the app on your phone. Just the app could arouse suspicions.