KEEPING INTERNET USE SECRET FROM YOUR ABUSER
Are you a victim? Are you visiting this website to find both the information and the means necessary to help you, and possibly your children, escape from an abusive, dangerous relationship at home? You will find that help here, but you must take extreme caution in using a computer...
If possible, avoid using your home computer or any computer that your abuser may use.
The program that the computer runs when you use the web, called a "browser", saves information about what web sites you visited. If you don't want your abuser to find your passwords or find out what web sites you have visited, it's better not to use your home computer, or any other computer that your abuser knows that you have used. The basic advice given below for "covering your tracks" may not be foolproof.
Use passwords that are hard to guess and don't write them down anywhere.
Change your passwords to your e-mail accounts. Use passwords that do NOT include any part of your name, and are NOT actual words that could be found in a dictionary. Passwords should be a random mixture of letters and numbers, lower case and upper case. The longer, the better.
Do NOT write your passwords down anywhere.
Instead, think of mnemonic or other memory devices to help you remember them. If you have trouble remembering the password, write down something that will remind you (and no one else) of the memory device you used. Don't write down the actual password anywhere.
EXAMPLE OF A GOOD PASSWORD: i3I0h5ah (The letters are from the first letters of each word in the first line of a favorite song; the numbers are from a street address remembered from childhood. If you can't remember this password, you might write down "song address" in a hidden place instead of the actual password).
If you must use your home computer, cover your tracks.
1. Tell your computer NOT to remember your passwords. When you type in a password to enter an e-mail or other account, your computer will often ask you if you want it to remember the password so you don't have to type it in every time. Tell it NO, usually by making sure that the check box next to the question is not checked.
If you don't need to type your password every time you enter an account, then your abuser won't need to either. Also, if your computer is remembering your password, then your password is stored somewhere in the computer where your abuser could find it.
2. Log off before you leave. Don't leave your computer logged into a web site or e-mail account and walk away. Log off before you leave. Usually there is a link or button that lets you do this easily.
3. Disable "Inline Autocomplete" on your Internet browser.
Inline Autocomplete keeps track of web addresses you have typed in the past, so you don't have to type them again - as soon as you start typing the address, the computer recognizes the address and completes it. This can let your abuser know what web addresses you have visited, so you need to tell your browser not to do Inline Autocomplete or whatever the equivalent function is in the browser your computer is using.
If you are using Internet Explorer, Click on "Tools" then click on "Internet Options." Click on the "Advanced" tab. Scroll down until you find the check boxes for "Use Inline Autocomplete." (There may be more than one.) Make sure the boxes are NOT checked. Then click the "OK" button.
After each time on the Internet, clear your "History" and delete all "Cache" files.
If your browser is Internet Explorer*:
Click on "Tools" then click on "Internet Options." The "General" page should be displayed. In the "Temporary Internet Files" box, click on "Delete Files." In the "History" box, click on "Clear History."
If your browser is Netscape*:
Click on "Edit" then click on "Preferences." Select "Navigator" and click on the "Clear History" button. Then go back and click on "Advanced." Select "Cache" and click on "Clear Disk Cache." On older versions of Netscape you may need to use this procedure: Click on "Options" then click on "Network Options." Select "Cache." Click on "Clear Disk Cache."
If you use AOL:
From the "Members" menu, select "Preferences." Click on the WWW icon. Select "Advanced." Then "Purge Cache."
*Information on older versions of Netscape and on AOL was taken from another source and not checked for accuracy. The other source is the Domestic Violence Web Page of the American Bar Association, located at www.abanet.org/domviol/internet.html.
Please note: this information may not completely hide your tracks. If you are concerned about the security of your Internet activities, please access the Internet at work, at a trusted friend or relative's house, or at a public library.