Cover your tracks
If you’re experiencing domestic abuse or violence, remember that your abuser can track what you’re looking at on your computer or phone, which can put you at risk.
At any time, you can click on the “Leave Site Now” button at the bottom of each page on LAO’s website if your abuser is nearby. By clicking on the button, you will be taken to a Google page that shows you the weather.
Here are some tips to cover your tracks:
When possible, browse using “private mode.” This can help keep your browsing private from other people who use your device.
Your browsing history, cookies and site data won’t show up in your browser history, so people who also use your device won’t see your activity.
When you don’t use private mode and clear your history and cookies, you leave a giant gap in your web history, which could raise as much suspicion as not deleting anything.
How to open private mode
- Click on the three vertical dots on the upper right hand corner and choose “New incognito window.”
- Or you can press Ctrl+Shift+N.
- Click on the three vertical lines on the upper right hand corner and choose “New private window.”
- Or you can press Ctrl+Shift+P.
- Internet Explorer
- Click the gear icon in the upper-right corner and choose “Safety” and then “InPrivate Browsing” or press Ctrl+Shift+P.
- Go to “File” and choose “New Private Window.”
- Or you can press Command+Shift+N
Clear browser history and cache files
If you didn’t use private mode, you can clear your browser history and cache files. Select the browser you were using to get more information on how to do this. You can choose how much of your browser history you want to delete—it may be only the recent history or all of it. If you share a computer with your abuser, deleting all browser history may look suspicious and make them realize you’ve been clearing everything.
- At the top right, click the three vertical dots.
- Click “History” and then select “History.”
- On the left, click “Clear browsing data.”
- From the drop-down menu, select how much history you want to delete. To clear everything, select “All time.”
- Check the boxes for the info you want Chrome to clear, including “browsing history.”
- Click “Clear data.”
- Click the library button, which is right next to the URL bar.
- Click “History” and then select “Clear Recent History.”
- From the drop-down menu next to “Time range to clear,” choose how much of your history you want to delete.
- Check the “Clear now” button.
- Internet Explorer
- Click the Tools button and select “Safety” and then select “Delete browsing history.”
- Choose the types of data or files you want to remove from your PC, and then select “Delete.”
- Click on “History” and select “Clear History.”
- Click on the pop-up menu and choose how far back you want your browsing history cleared.
Consider having a separate email that your abuser doesn’t know about and forward any emails there so you have a copy in case you need it for a criminal proceeding.
If you have a separate, secret email, make sure you delete the emails from the account that your abuser knows about. Delete them from the inbox, the sent and trash folders.
Change your password often (as needed, and at least once a month). Create a strong password that your abuser won’t be able to guess using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
Try and use a phone at work in a private space or the phone of a person you trust. If you are using the phone of a trusted person, ask that person to receive messages for you from your lawyer, the local shelter, or police, if possible.
If you are using your own phone and if someone needs to leave you a voicemail or send you a text, ask them to be careful and not say why they’re calling. For example, if court staff are confirming an appointment with a lawyer or you’re getting more information about protective orders.
Take a screen shot of any threatening and harassing messages to use as evidence of criminal activity and send it to a separate email or to someone you trust.
Be sure to cover your tracks on your phone by doing the following.
Don’t forget to delete any SMS/text or messages sent through WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger after taking screenshots of any threatening messages from your abuser and forwarding them to your separate email.
Delete any sensitive content (for example, if you are coordinating with a family member or friend to leave your abuser) as soon as possible.
Change your phone’s security password often.
Delete any screenshots or images from your phone after sending them.