If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer and Internet activities. Anyone can do it. Here are some general tips to protect yourself:
- It’s not possible to delete or clear all the ‘footprints’ off your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors such as suddenly deleting your entire Internet history. If you think your home computer is being monitored, use it for activities like looking up the weather and use a safer computer (at your local library, for example) for activities like reaching out for help, researching an escape plan, or looking for a new job or apartment.
- Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.
- Computers can store a lot of private information about what you look at via the Internet, the emails and messages you send, Internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities. Be sure you always log out of your computer programs when you step away from the computer and use a screensaver with a password. The same goes for passwords on cell phones.
- Practice good password management and security. Never share your passwords with others and be sure to change your passwords frequently.
- Always use reliable and updated security software to prevent someone from getting spyware onto your computer.
- Use the privacy settings in all your online accounts to limit your online sharing with those outside your trusted circle. You can use these settings to opt out of having your profile appear when someone searches for your name. You can block people from seeing your posts and photos, too.