Technology can be a lifeline to help but many abusers also use social media, phones, laptops, and other technological devices to monitor their partner's behaviors, location, and conversations. This can also continue after termination of the relationship. Here are some ways you can try to stay safe with technology:
Open an email account your abuser does not know about. It is best to do this on a safe computer, such as at the library, a drop-in center, or even at work if that is an option. Do not access this from devices you know your abuser checks.
You can bury documents in obscure folder locations on your computer, labelling them with non-identifiable names. You can also lock these folders with a password if you feel that is safe for you to do so.
Consider purchasing a pay as you go phone that you keep in a safe place to allow you to make calls.
Tell people not to post personal information, negative comments or check-ins about you on social media. Ask people not to post or tag pictures if you’re not comfortable with it. If you have a friend in an abusive relationship DO NOT post information about them without getting their permission. You could jeopardize their safety.
Physical safety - in abusive relationship
Identify safe places in your home that you can attempt to go to if your partner begins to behave abusively. Ideally, this will be a location with clear exits and without possible weapons.
Keep your cell phone charged as much as possible.
Establish a code word that you can, if able, communicate to friends, family, or co-workers and they can call for help.
If physical violence is unavoidable, make yourself as small a target as you can; dive into a corner and curl up into a ball with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.
Avoid wearing scarves, necklaces, and other items that can be easily grabbed.
If you drive, try to make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keep it fueled. If possible, keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked for a quick escape
If possible and applicable, practice emergency drills with your children.
Physical safety - after leaving
Many abusers continue to control, manipulate, stalk, and harm survivors even after they have left. Here are ways you can try to protect yourself:
Change your phone number.
Screen calls and put a block on your number so that you can’t be identified.
If possible, block the abuser's social media profiles or remove yourself from social media (this can be a difficult decision as many survivors receive their main support through social media).
In cases of a no-contact termination of the relationship, do not respond to the abuser's attempts to communicate with you.
If you have to communicate with your abuser, respond as little as possible.
Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the abuser.
Change locks if the abuser has a key.
Avoid staying alone.
Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
If you have to meet your partner, do it in a public place.
Vary your routine.
Notify school and work contacts.
Know your "holy trinity"
A few years ago, one of our friends shared that she always makes sure she knows what or who her "holy trinity" is for times when she needs help, feels anxious or depressed, or overwhelmed.
Your holy trinity can be three phone numbers to call or text, such as a hotline, a dependable friend, and an advocate. It may be three friends, include a crisis counselor, or a family member.
Think about who or where you can lean on for support when you need help. If you feel you don't have three people or places you can lean on in moments of distress, talking to someone at The National Domestic Violence can be helpful in figuring out where your support system is.