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You may be afraid to leave or ask for help out of fear that your partner will retaliate if he finds out. This is a legitimate concern. However, there are precautions you can take to stay safe and keep your abuser from finding out what you’re doing. When seeking help for domestic violence and abuse, it’s important to cover your tracks, especially when you’re using the phone or the computer.
 

Phone safety for abused and battered women

When seeking help for domestic violence, call from a public pay phone or another phone outside the house if possible. You can call 911 for free on most public phones, so know where the closest one is in case of emergency.

  • Avoid cordless telephones. If you’re calling from your home, use a corded phone if you have one, rather than a cordless phone or cell phone. A corded phone is more private, and less easy to tap.

  • Call collect or use a prepaid phone card. Remember that if you use your own home phone or telephone charge card, the phone numbers that you call will be listed on the monthly bill that is sent to your home. Even if you’ve already left by the time the bill arrives, your abuser may be able to track you down by the phone numbers you’ve called for help.

  • Check your cell phone settings. There are cell phone technologies your abuser can use to listen in on your calls or track your location. Your abuser can use your cell phone as a tracking device if it has GPS, is in “silent mode,” or is set to “auto answer.” So consider turning it off when not in use or leaving it behind when fleeing your abuser.

  • Get your own cell phone. Consider purchasing a prepaid cell phone or another cell phone that your abuser doesn’t know about. The Crisis Center of Magic Valley can furnish you with a 911 cell-phone for your safety if you don’t have a phone.
     

Computer and Internet safety for abused and battered women

Abusers often monitor their partner’s activities, including their computer use. While there are ways to delete your internet history, this can be a red flag to your partner that you’re trying to hide something, so be very careful. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to clear a computer of all evidence of the websites that you have visited, unless you know a lot about computers.
 

  • Use a safe computer. If you seek help online, you are safest if you use a computer outside of your home. You can use a computer at work, a friend’s house, the library, etc.

  • Be cautious with email and instant messaging. Email and instant messaging are not the safest way to get help for domestic violence. Be especially careful when sending email, as your abuser may know how to access your account. You may want to consider creating a new email account that your abuser doesn’t know about.

  • Change your user names and passwords. Create new usernames and passwords for your email, online banking, and other sensitive accounts. Even if you don’t think your abuser has your passwords, he may have guessed or used a spyware or keylogging program to get them. Choose passwords that your abuser can’t guess (avoid birthdays, nicknames, and other personal information).

 

Protecting yourself from GPS surveillance and recording devices

Your abuser doesn’t need to be tech savvy in order to use surveillance technology to monitor your movements and listen in on your conversations. Be aware that your abuser may be using hidden cameras, such as a “Nanny Cam,” or even a baby monitor to check in on you. Global Positioning System (GPS) devices are also cheap and easy to use. GPS devices can be hidden in your car, your purse, or other objects you carry with you. Your abuser can also use your car’s GPS system to see where you’ve been.
 

If you discover any tracking or recording devices, leave them be until you’re ready to leave. While it may be tempting to remove them or shut them off, this will alert your abuser that you’re on to him.

Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline

Protecting Your Privacy

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What You Need to Know
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