American Bar Association
Commission on Domestic Violence

WARNING

Taking all of the actions on this page may not prevent an abuser from discovering your email and internet activity. The safest way to find information on the internet is to go to a safer computer. Suggestions are: a local library, a friend's house or your workplace. Other safety suggestions: Change your password often, do not pick obvious words or numbers for your password, and pick a combination of letters and numbers for you password.

HOW AN ABUSER CAN DISCOVER YOUR INTERNET ACTIVITES

Email: if an abuser has access to your email account, he or she may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. If you believe your account is secure, make sure you choose a password he or she will not be able to guess.

If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing email messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse. Additionally, the messages may constitute a federal offense. For more information on this issue, contact your local United States Attorney's Office.

History/cache file: if an abuser knows how to read your computer's history or cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics), he or she may be able to see information you have viewed recently on the internet.

You can clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser's setting*

*Netscape:

Pulldown Edit menu, select Preferences. Click on Navigator on choose "Clear History". Click on advanced the select Cache. Click on Clear Disk Cache.

On older versions of Netcape: Pulldown Options menu. Select Network Options, Select Cache. Click on Clear Disk Cache.

Internet Explorer:

Pull down Tools menu, select Internet Options. On General page, under Temporary.

Files, click on Delete Files. If asked, check the box to delete all offline content. Still within the Temporary Internet Files section, click on Settings. (This next step may make it navigate pages where you'd like your information to be remembered, but these remaining cookies do show website pages you have visited. Therefore, use your own judgment as to whether or not to take this next step). Click on View Files. Manually highlight all the files (cookies) shown, then hit Delete. Close the window, then on General page under History section, click on Clear History.

AOL

Pulldown Members menu, select Preferences. Click on WWW icon. Then select Advanced. Purge Cache.

Additionally, a victim needs to make sure that the Use Inline Autocomplete box is NOT Checked. This function will complete a partial web address while typing a location in the address bar at the top of the browser.

If you are using Internet Explorer, this box can be found on the MS Internet Explorer Page by clicking on Tools at the top of the screen, then Internet Options, and the the Advanced tab. About halfway down there is a Use Inline AutoComplete box that can be checked and unchecked by clicking on it. Uncheck the box to disable the feature that automatically completes an internet address when you start typing in the internet address box.

  • This information may not completely hide your tracks. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites. The safest way to find information on the Internet would be at a local library, a friend's house, or at work.

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TELEPHONE & PRIVACY

Telephone technologies, such as Caller ID and Call Return, allow your abuser to keep track of who you call and who calls you. Therefore, you should think about steps you can take to prevent this from happening. Additionally, learning about these features can help you plan for your safety.

If you live with your abuser, and your telephone has the Caller ID feature, your abuser can track who has called you. If you live separately from your abuser, you can use the same Caller ID box to make sure the caller is someone you want to speak to, before answering the phone. If you have Caller ID, you can also get Anonymous Call Rejection Service. This service prevents an incoming call from ringing at your home if the caller has blocked their number to prevent it from being displayed on the Caller ID box. The caller will reach a recorded message saying that the call will not be accepted unless the block is removed.

Call Return Service (*69) allows you to call back the last number that called you, whether or not you answered the call. In some areas, a recording will give you the number you are attempting to call back, even long distance numbers. If you would like to prevent your abuser from knowing who the last person that called you was, in addition to clearing the memory from the Caller ID, you can press *89 after you end the call. This will prevent Call Return from working.

The re-dial button on your telephone also allows your abuser to call the last number you dialed. This could jeopardize your safety if you have contacted a domestic violence hotline or friends and family members that your abuser does not want you speaking with. After hanging up from such a call, you may want to dial the telephone number for the weather or some other "safe" number.

An answering machine is another good way to screen your calls. If your abuser leaves a threatening message, be sure to save the message. Do not record over it. These types of recordings might be helpful to the police if you report the incident.

If you use a cell phone, be aware there are numerous ways an abuser can use cell phone technology to overhear your calls. Use a cell phone only if you do not have access to a regular phone. Also remember that the phone number of all outgoing calls placed from your cell phone might appear on the monthly bill. If your abuser has access to the bill, do not make any calls from the phone that might place your safety at risk.

**Do not assume these features are currently available on your telephone. Please contact your local telephone company for more information on how to add or access these features.**

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POLICE PROTOCOL:

The most emotional and frightening time for you could be when an incident has just occurred and the Police are called to your home. You may be in need of medical attention and will experience a wide range of emotions such as fear and uncertainty.

The following list of suggestions could assist you when the Police respond to your home:

  • Although it is a frightening time and you are in the midst of an incident just occurring, try to remain as calm as possible.
  • State to the Police Officer a clear description of what has happened.
  • Listen to the questions the Police Officer is asking you and answer to the best of your ability.
  • If you would like charges pressed against the abuser; clearly state that to the Police Officer and they will determine if charges can be pressed.
  • Prior to signing the Domestic Incident Report (DIR), read it over carefully. If something is not clear, ask the Officer to clarify it for you. If something is missing ask the Officer to ad it to the report.
  • You will receive a gold copy of the DIR prior to the Police leaving your home. If it is not given to you, ask for it.
  • When the Officer leaves your home, call the Precinct and ask to speak to the SCCADV advocate, or call our 24-hour hotline at 631-666-8833.

>> Read/Print A Personalized Safety Plan (pdf)

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