The first step to keeping yourself safer online is to know how your ex-partner may be using technology to stalk, harass or threaten you. Please consider the following:
Is he spying on you by:
- Looking at what you have been doing on your phone, laptop, tablet or computer?
- Changing the privacy settings on your accounts?
- Installing spyware on your phone, laptop, tablet or computer or placing hidden cameras in your house, your mobile device, your car or your children’s toys?
- Tracking you through the GPS on your phone or car or the children’s devices?
- Accessing any phone and/or Internet accounts you shared with him?
Is he harassing/stalking you by:
- Sending you repeated texts or emails that are threatening, mean, upsetting or just annoying?
- Posting about you on social media (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)?
- Posting pictures of you online?
- Tampering with your online accounts (bank, work email, social media)?
- Pretending he is you in email or social media?
- Pretending he is someone else and posting about you?
If you find your ex-partner is using a device or account to stalk you, there are a few things to consider before you stop using it:
- If you keep using the device, you can collect evidence of what he is doing that you may be able to use in a criminal or family law case. This evidence can also be shared with the police to support a criminal harassment charge.
- Keep in mind that when you take away a device which your ex-partner is monitoring, his stalking behaviour may intensify in other ways. Be sure to change your safety plan to reflect this change in circumstances.
- Libraries and community agencies often provide free computer access. You may be able to book specific time to use a computer in one of these locations to get legal information or to do other activities that you don’t want your ex-partner to know about.
Children, technology and safety
Your ex-partner might use your children’s technology to try to track and harass you by:
- Setting up GPS or “Find phone” on their devices, which will let him know where they (and you) are.
- Changing the settings on their devices and accounts so he can have access.
- Setting up “family” phone plans that let him see where they (and you) are.
- Getting them to download or install spyware on your device (e.g., opening an email attachment).
He might give them:
- Devices with GPS so he can see where they (and you) are
- Devices with apps or spyware so he can see what you text or email to the kids
- Games they need to install on your computer that include spyware
- Electronic equipment (e.g., keyboards, cords, tv) that include spyware or hidden cameras
- Toys, knapsacks and other items with hidden cameras or GPS
Depending on the ages and level of electronic sophistication of your children, they may share information with him about you without understanding what can happen. Talk to them about what you would like them to keep private. If you have serious concerns about this, you may want to monitor your children’s accounts.
If you can afford it, you may want to get a second device and use it for communication with your friends, work colleagues, lawyer and for other everyday use. Depending on your children’s ages and how easily they are influenced by their father, you may need to keep this new device a secret from them as well as from him, his friends and family.