Staying safe online
Many relationships that begin romantically can quickly become controlling. Does your partner insist on reading your emails? Do they check your texts and the locations of your social media posts?
This kind of thing can be just the beginning. A third of survivors responding to a Women’s Aid survey said that their partner or ex-partner had used spyware or GPS locators to track them down.
What does it look like?
- Online domestic abuse may involve your partner or family member monitoring your social media profiles or emails
- They may use abusive language on social media such as Facebook or Twitter
- They may share intimate photos or videos without your consent, using GPS locators or spyware.
Women’s Aid research on online domestic abuse found that:
- For 85% of respondents the abuse they received online from a partner or ex-partner went hand in hand with the abuse they were experiencing offline.
- Nearly a third of respondents (29%) experienced the use of spyware or GPS locators on their phone or computers, placed there by a partner or ex-partner.
- For half (50%) of respondents the online abuse involved direct threats to them or someone they knew.
- Nearly a third of those who responded had received threats and those threats made online were carried out.
Conviction data for image based sexual abuse (commonly referred to as ‘revenge pornography’) show that out of the 376 prosecutions for this offence recorded in the year ending March 2019, 83% (313) were flagged as being domestic abuse-related. (ONS, 2019)
Make no mistake, revenge porn IS a crime
Staying safe online – what can you do?
Online services and social media such as Facebook and Twitter should be open and safe for everyone to use. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and perpetrators of domestic abuse will find ways to use online tools to augment their abuse.
Here are some ways to stay safe
- Never answer calls from withheld numbers
- Block or change numbers (only when it is safe to do so)
- Turn off location services such as ‘find my Phone’ on smart phones
- Ensure that location services are also not activated on apps – for example facebook attaches a location to posts
- Delete and/or block your abusive partner on social media sites and don’t add anyone unknown
- Ensure your social media sites are managed safely; for example changing your facebook settings so you can’t be found by using the search function/setting up new accounts which you only give to safe friends or family
- Cover cameras on tablets/computers/phones to prevent perpetrators from hacking them
- If you’ve experienced abuse through your phones/tablets the safest option is to get a new device
- If you can’t afford a new device you can restore the device to factory settings. Going in store to your provider can help you with this to check it’s done correctly.
- Get screenshots to keep a log of any threats occurring through social media where it is safe to do so.