The courts strive to provide as much protection as possible for victims of domestic abuse, but there is still a lot the victim can do to avoid opening themselves up to unnecessary risks. Below are some tips on how to protect yourself.
Global Positioning System (GPS) Devices
Trust your instincts. If someone seems to know too much or show up in random places, check for hidden GPS devices or other location tracking services. Consider notifying law enforcement.
A device can be hidden in your belongings or vehicle. Check the trunk, under the hood, inside the bumper and seats. A mechanic or law enforcement can also do a search.
Safety plan around/before removal of any location tracking device, as it may alert the abuser & cause them to escalate.
Avoid using email for sensitive or personal information.
If you think your email is being monitored, consider creating an additional new email account on a safer computer. Never access the new accounts on a monitored computer.
When setting up a new email account, don’t use any identifying information.
Avoid passwords that others can guess.
If you receive threats by email, save the electronic copies. Keep the emails in the system, but also consider forwarding a copy to another email account. You can also print copies of the email; see if the print version can display the full email header.
Consider reporting email threats or hacked accounts to law enforcement. These are crimes and the police can use email header information to help trace emails to the original sender.
Personal Information & the Internet
Do searches on yourself to see what information is available.
Be cautious and creative when providing personal information: only provide information that you feel is critical and safe for things like store discount cards.
Ask schools, employers, courts and government services about Internet publications. Request that your information and photos not be posted in public directories or online. In court systems, ask up front how your court records can be sealed and not posted online for safety reasons.
Let officials know if you have a restraining order, as providing that information might expedite these requests.
Spyware: Computer & Phone Monitoring Software
When you first get a new computer or phone, increase security by enabling firewalls for your computer, network or phone (see settings) and install or run anti-spyware and anti-virus software; set your computer or device to automatically install updates.
Don’t open any attachments if you don’t know the sender, or you suspect abuse.
Trust your instincts. If someone knows too much about your computer activity, your computer may be monitored. Use a “safer” computer (one the abuser does not have any access to) for private communications and web browsing.
Consider changing passwords and creating new accounts on another computer. Do not access those accounts or use those passwords on the monitored computer.
Caller ID & Spoofing
Caller ID “spoofing” is a service that allows a caller to masquerade as someone else by falsifying the number that appears on the recipient's caller ID display – be aware that these services exist.
Survivors can contact the phone company and ask that their phone number be blocked to protect privacy. Blocking is supposed to prevent your caller ID from displaying. However, even with a blocked number, sometimes your caller ID will still display. Consider using another phone or outgoing phone number.
Regularly test the line by calling other phones to ensure it is blocked.
Use an Internet phone (i.e., Skype) or a pay-as-you-go phone purchased with cash to make calls if you are worried about your number.