How abusers use technology
- Looking at the “history” on your device (phone, laptop, tablet or computer)
- Changing your privacy settings on your accounts
- Spyware: software or hardware put on a device that tells what has been done on the device; software can be put on a device through the internet
- Hidden cameras: can be in children’s toys, household items, mobile devices
- GPS: in mobile devices (any device that can be moved easily), cars
- Geo-location: photos from digital cameras or mobile devices can include hidden information about where and when they were taken
- Phone or internet accounts: shared accounts allow a person to know where the other people in the plan are and some of what they are doing on their device
- Sending you texts or emails that are threatening, mean, upsetting or just annoying
- Posting about you on social media (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
- Posting pictures of you online
- Tampering with your online accounts (bank, work email, social media)
- Pretending he is you in email or social media
- Pretending he is someone else and posting about you
This is against the law. It’s called stalking or “criminal harassment”. Luke’s Place, a lawyer and the police can help.
When you think he’s stalking you with technology
If the abuser knows things he shouldn’t, he may be using technology to spy on and track you.
If you find he’s using a device or account to stalk you, do NOT stop using it.
- Although you will want to stop, he might do worse things if you do.
- Use the device or account enough so that he thinks you don’t know.
- As he keeps using it to stalk you, you can collect evidence.
- Get help from Luke’s Place, the police or a lawyer. The sooner, the better!
Safer surfing, posting and texting
Everything done online or on a phone leaves a record (“history”). Some records are easy to find, hide or delete.
Use a device he cannot access.
- Call services or your lawyer from a friend’s phone, work phone or a pay phone.
- Libraries and community agencies often provide free computer access. Book an appointment with Luke’s Place to use a computer.
- Visit websites for legal information on your friend’s phone or your work computer.
- Go in person to the place you need information from.
Change the “history” and remove “cookies” on your device.
- Devices use “browsers” to look at websites.
- Browsers keep a record of all the websites you visit. These are kept in the browser’s “cache”.
- Some browsers are Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.
- If you can, delete only those activities the abuser would not like.
- Learn how to change your history:
If you worry he will see a message you have sent…
- Delete texts. To find out how, search online for “How do I delete a text from my phone”.
- Delete emails from your “sent” folder. (However, a copy of emails might be kept with your internet provider or webmail hosting service.)
Change the passwords for all your accounts, including business, banking and social media.
- Choose passwords he will not guess.
- Don’t allow your browser to save your passwords.
If you shared a phone / internet provider / cable account:
- Remove his name from the account so that he cannot get access to your records.
- Change your passwords.
- Alternatively, get a new phone and internet provider.
Update privacy settings:
- On your social media accounts, like Facebook (these change often so watch for updates)
- On your browser. For more information visit techsafety.org.
Lock up and log out.
- Lock your phone with a password.
- Log out of your accounts on your phone and computer.
- Some web accounts, like Gmail, may not automatically shut down. Change the settings.
- Remove apps from your phone that won’t allow you to log out.
Hardware and software
- Set up a firewall, install anti-virus and anti-spyware protection and keep things updated
- Get help from tech savvy friends or your local computer shop
- If possible, get a new computer and/or phone
The abuser will use the children
What he might do:
- Set up GPS or “Find phone” on their devices. This is helpful when children lose a device, but will allow him to know where the child (and you) are.
- Change the settings on their devices and accounts so he can have access
- Set up “family” phone plans that let him see where they (and you) are
- Get them to download or install spyware on your device (e.g. opening an email attachment)
What he might give them:
- Devices with GPS to see where they (and you) are
- Devices with apps or spyware to see what you text or email to the kids
- Games they need to install on your computer that include spyware
- Electronic equipment (e.g. keyboards, cords, tv) that include spyware or hidden cameras
- Toys, knapsacks and other items with hidden cameras or GPS
He will communicate with them.
- He will likely text or email them and/or “friend” them in social media.
- They will share information with him about you without understanding what can happen. Talk to them about what you would like them to keep private.
- You might choose to monitor your children’s accounts if you have concerns.
Things to consider
GPS on phones
- Many phones include a GPS function. You can turn it off but if you call 911, they will not be able to use your phone to locate you.
- A GPS chip can be added to a phone. It will drain the phone battery.
- To find out if your phone has GPS contact your phone company or go to a cell phone retailer.
- If removing GPS will not alert the abuser, have a phone retailer remove the chip.
How to communicate with him: email might be the best way
- It creates a record that is easy to manage.
- You have time to collect your thoughts.
- Create a new email account for yourself. Don’t share this account with the abuser or his friends or family. Use your old account with the abuser. This way you don’t have to see his messages every time you use email.
- Learn other tips for managing email with him.
What you post online or send as a text or email
- Abusers have learned about women’s plans from reading email and texts.
- The abuser will try to get you to say things you might regret. Texts, emails and other online content have been used as evidence in court.
- Ask yourself, “What would he do if he sees this?”
- While the abuser may not be able to visit your social media page or account, other people may share this information with him or with people he knows.
You will likely want to get rid of things he sends you, but DON’T.
Texts, email, social media posts and other online activity have been used as evidence in legal cases.
- Save abusive or threatening emails, texts, and phone messages.
- Print emails with expanded headers to collect more information. Search “expanded header” for help.
- Take screen shots of online posts or the history of accounts he has hacked into. Search, “How do I take a screen shot” for help.
- Print what you can and keep this in a safe place.
- Keep a written record of what he does – on and off-line. Include time, date, action and any witnesses. Write out text and email messages he sends you.
Show this information to your lawyer, legal support worker and/or the police.
For much more on technology safety, see techsafety.org.