Deciding what to do when you are in an abusive situation is hard. It is common not to know whether to stay or leave. It is your choice. Below are some options for staying safe.
You can build your support system and find ways to be safer. This applies to whether staying with an abusive partner or leaving. You can’t control your partner’s abusive behavior. However, you can take steps to protect yourself (and your children if you have any) from harm. You know your situation best. You know when remaining in the home and/or in the relationship is no longer an option. Safety plans are important whether you are staying in or leaving a relationship.
A safety plan is a personalized and practical plan that helps you identify things you can do to better protect yourself (and your children) at home, school, work, and in the community. It will also help to reduce your risk of being hurt. The changes that occur may be big, like going to a confidential shelter or changing schools. The changes may be small, like changing your email passwords or the route you take to work. Planning can help you to safely escape violence, protect your children, and get assistance or support if needed.
A Peace at Home advocate can help you create a personal safety plan.
Technology-enabled abuse is not some new form of abuse. It is simply the way familiar forms of abuse — stalking, harassment, threats, impersonation, etc. — are perpetrated via technology. Victim serving organizations, such as those in law enforcement, human services, education, healthcare and the military, are built to address these familiar forms of abuse.
Consider using a safer device: If you think that someone is monitoring your computer, tablet, or mobile device, try using a different device that the person hasn’t had physical or remote access to in the past, and doesn’t have access to now (like a computer at a library or a friend’s phone).
Get more information: you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673, or the Peace at Home Family Shelter Hotline at (479) 442-9811 to be connected with an advocate near you.
Trust your instincts: If it seems like the person knows too much about you, they could be getting that information from a variety of sources, like monitoring your devices, accessing your online accounts, tracking your location, or gathering information about you online.
Strategically plan around your tech: When abusers misuse technology, it’s often a natural reaction to want to throw away devices or close online accounts to make it stop. However, some abusive individuals may escalate their controlling and dangerous behavior if they feel they’ve lost access to the victim. So before removing a hidden camera that you’ve found, or a GPS tracker, think through how the abuser may respond and plan for your safety. For example, some survivors choose to use a safer device for certain interactions, but also keep using the monitored device to collect evidence.
Identify the Abuse
Look for patterns: Narrowing down the potential source of technology can help you create a safety plan and to document the abuse.
Document the incidents: Documenting a series of incidents can show police or the court a pattern of behavior that fits a legal definition of stalking or harassment. Documentation can also help you see if things are escalating and help you with safety planning.
Report the incidents: You may also want to report the incidents to law enforcement or seek a protective order. If the harassment is online, you can also report it to the website or app where the harassment is happening.
Steps to Increase Security
Change passwords and usernames.
Check your devices and settings.
Get a new device.
Protect your location.
Consider cameras and audio devices.
Steps to Increase Privacy
Protect your address.
Limit the information you give out about yourself.
Control your offline and online privacy
*Add digital safety resources:Digital Safety Resources
You can provide help and support for a friend or loved one who is experiencing abuse.
Express your concern. Accept that your friend is in a very difficult, scary situation. Let your friend know that the abuse is not their fault, you believe them, and you are concerned about their safety. Encourage your friend to express their feelings and get help.
Remember that it may be difficult for your friend to talk about it.
Respect your friend’s right to make decisions.
Offer to go with your friend when they seek help.
Understand that you cannot “fix” the situation.
Plan safe strategies with your friend, including:
Having a code word your friend can use to signal a need for immediate help.