Welcome to today’s edition of The V Word.

You can listen to the episode here:

Last week I talked about predation via technology and the Internet.

A reader wrote in sharing her story about her partner stalking her using technology and asked for information.
Abusers often engage in controlling behavior to limit a person’s access to friends, family and information. Limiting the use of technology is one way of controlling a person and using technology to monitor and stalk a person is becoming more frequent the more technology is used to communicate. Abusers will monitor telephone calls and letters and engage in stalking to track their victim’s location. As technology has expanded, so do the tools to frighten, monitor, and control their victims.
Here are somethings to consider that can happen.

  • Someone can monitor your computer use without you knowing it.
  • A “history” cannot be completely erased from your computer.
  • Your cell phone use can be monitored.
  • A global positioning system (GPS) can be placed on your car, in your purse or in your cell phone to track you.
  • Did you know that e-mail is like a postcard and can be intercepted.

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence has provided some great tips on Computer Safety

  • Your Internet browser keeps a record of the Web sites you have visited. It is easy to go back and see what sites the previous user has looked at. This may be of concern to you if you’d like to keep the sites you are looking at confidential. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites.
  • If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct or remote (hacking) access to.
  • If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer and Internet activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.
  • Spyware can be installed easily and is hard to detect. Every key stroke or web page viewed is recorded and seen by your abuser.

It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors such as suddenly deleting your entire internet history if that is not your regular habit. If you still wish to delete your internet history, please contact your local crisis center or call the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence at 603-224-8893 for information on how to do this.

Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about. It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a community technology center (CTC), at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.

Additional Technology Tips:

  • Remember that “corded” phones are more private and less interceptable than cordless phones or analog cell phones.
  • e aware you may not be able to reach 911 using an Internet phone or Internet-based phone service. So you may need to be prepared to use another phone to call 911. Contact your local domestic violence program, shelter, or rape crisis center to learn about free cell phone donation programs.
  • If you receive harassing emails, save them as evidence.
  • Use a web-based email service like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail.
  • Choose passwords that are not easy to guess and change passwords often. Do not let your computer save your passwords.
  • Keep your files on a removable disk and put passwords on them to deter access.
  • Be sure your surfing history remains as confidential as possible.
  • You need 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 feel that it is safe to do so, you can disable the auto complete for your web browser.
    Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer have instructions on how to do this.

What can you do?

In Virginia there are many laws to protect children. You can find them at the Department of Criminial Justice Services website:

http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/juvenile/resources/childabusestatutes/index.cfm

How can you help?

Get involved with your local rape crisis center to learn more about internet safety.

For help or information? Here are some options…

  • If you have been assaulted or your child has been assaulted, call 911. Local rape crisis centers and child advocacy centers have advocates they can send to help support you and provide information.
  • For information on how to report an assault in the Richmond, Virginia, USA are, you can call the non-emergency line at 804-646-5100 or go by a local police station office. The main Richmond office is located at 200 East Grace Street.
  • To get a forensic exam to collect evidence and receive medical care, the local hospitals in the Richmond area with Forensic Nurse Examiners are at Medical College of Virginia and St. Mary’s Hospital.
  • For help with counseling and advocacy, local rape crisis centers, child advocacy centers and domestic violence shelters can provide services. To find a center closest to you… you can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. That is the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.
  • Want to share a story or ask a question? Email me at thevword.radio@gmail.com or tweet me at my twitter account: @preventviolence. You can read the transcript for this show and past shows on my blog at www.thevword.org

The V Word is recorded in the studios of WRIR-LP 97.3 and streamed at wrir.org, read and produced by me, Carol Olson. Music is provided by the Etching Tin

More Resources:

  • “Intimate Partner Violence, Technology, and Stalking” : This article describes a broad range of technologies in intimate partner stalking, including cordless and cellular telephones, fax machines, e-mail, internet-based harassment, global positioning systems, spy ware, video cameras, and online databases.
  • The Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence
  • Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • CyberAngels
  • Women Halting Online Abuse (WHOA)
  • Safety Ed International
  • Online Privacy Alliance
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center
  • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
  • Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Affairs Department
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