Technology, Internet and Computer Safety

For research and general information only.
If you are looking for help or other advocacy services, please see our interactive FIND HELP directory.

Information for survivors / victims

Quick tips
  • If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use your computer since an abuser might become suspicious. You may want to keep using the monitored computer for innocuous activities, like looking up the weather. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or apartments, bus tickets, and finding help.
  • 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, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please 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 instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities. It is virtually impossible to completely erase all the history or "digital footprints" of 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 that is not your regular habit.
  • It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a Community Technology Center (CTC), at a trusted friend's house, or an Internet Café.
If you are in danger
  • Call 9-1-1,
  • Call your local crisis hotline, or
  • Call the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline via phone at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or TTY at 1-800-787-3224.
  • ​Remember that "corded" phones are more private and less interceptable than cordless phones or analog cell phones.
  • Be aware you may not be able to reach 911 using an Internet phone or Internet-based phone service (Vonage, Skype, etc), so you may need to be prepared to use another phone to call 911.
  • Contact your local domestic violence program or shelter to learn about free cell phone donation programs.

Resources for advocates and program staff

Please see our Technology Safety resources page (COIN site account and login is required)!

Further reading

Rabinovitch, Maru. How Social Networking Tools Can Be Dangerous for Those Needing Anonymity. The Privacy Association. 8 April 2015.

Buni, Catherine and Soraya Chemaly. The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against WomenThe Atlantic. 9 October 2014

Shahani, Aarti. Smartphones Are Used to Stalk, Control Domestic Abuse 15 September 2014. 

External links

Technology Safety & Privacy: A Toolkit for SurvivorsNational Network to End Domestic Violence - SafetyNet Project.

For more information about technology-facilitated abuse, cyber-stalking, or integrating tech awareness into survivor safety planning, contact Jonathan Gates, Social Media & Events Coordinator, or Keri Moran-Kuhn, Director of Programs at (503) 230-1951.

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