If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are.
There are hundreds of ways to record everything you do on the computer and what you access on the Internet. Spyware can be installed easily and is hard to detect. Every key stroke or web page viewed can then be recorded and seen by your abuser.
It is not possible to delete or clear all computer “footprints.” Besides, erasing or deleting files could also alert your abuser and possibly increase your danger.
Use a computer at a public library or a computer lab to access resources and information. Any indication of leaving your situation could put you in danger.
Use a web-based email service like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail; don’t store emails on a computer your abuser has access to.
If you receive harassing emails, save them as evidence. If you are using a web-based email service, this is automatic. If your email is on your computer (e.g. Outlook), save the files to an external disk or thumb drive and then delete them completely from your computer, including the trash bin.
Do not let your computer save your passwords. Choose passwords that are not easy to guess and change passwords often.
Prepare an Escape Bag
Prepare an escape bag with all the essentials you will need to successfully escape an abusive home. Keep the bag / box / suitcase in a safe place away from the home (e.g. at work or with a trusted friend) where you can access it in an emergency. Don’t use your car or purse.
Whenever possible, documents should all be originals, unless taking them away would arouse your abuser’s suspicion.
A Suggested List of Items
- IDs for you and your children (driver's license, birth certificates, passports, social security card, work papers or immigration papers)
- Spare keys for your house, car, storage locker, bank safe deposit box, etc.
- Financial: check book, credit cards, debit cards, safe deposit box info
- Personal address and phone notebook. List of access codes and passwords
- Insurance info; health, life, auto, home
- Government account info; medicare, food stamps, medicaid, social security
- Records; school, medical, marriage
- Court orders: divorce, protection, child custody
- Proof of your partner's income (pay stub, etc.)
- Prepaid cell phone (your normal cell phone may be traceable) and / or prepaid calling card
- Documentation of assets and liabilities (including titles, leases, credit cards and bank accounts), particularly those you own jointly with your abuser
- Change of clothes
- Medications and prescriptions for you, children and pets. Bring extra supplies if possible.
- Personal hygiene items (toothbrushes, feminine hygiene, diapers, deodorant)
- Baby formula, toys and blankets
- Pictures, jewelry, keepsakes
- Pictures of family which include the abuser
- Abuser's personal information (date of birth, social security number, work permit information, place of employment, description of vehicle including license plate number) and a good photo of the abuser
Following a violent encounter
- If possible, take pictures of any personal injuries and property damage resulting from the attack
- Have medical personnel (including ambulance attendants) document your injuries and how you incurred them
- Seek shelter if you do not feel safe in your home - call Peace House at 800-647-9161
- Consider obtaining a protective order against your abuser; Peace House can help with that
Staying in your home, with a protective order
- Tell your neighbors about it; enlist their help in watching out for you. Arrange a signal to alert them if you are in danger so they can call 911 if you can't
- Keep your protective order and emergency phone numbers with you at all times (the protective order is valid anywhere in the U.S.)
- Change the locks on your doors; install locks on windows; screen incoming calls
- Cancel joint bank accounts and credit cards; open new accounts in your name only, preferably at a different bank
- Carry noise-makers and / or pepper spray; be prepared to use them!
- At work, tell your supervisor, receptionist and security about the protective order. Provide them a picture of your abuser. Have someone screen incoming calls, if possible
- Always park in well-lit places as close to the building as possible. Ask security, a co-worker or neighbor to walk you to your car, bus, lunch spot
- Save all voicemail and email messages received from your abuser
You fear abuse may escalate to violence
- Call our 24-hour help line 800-647-9161 for advice; keep the number handy
- Carry a fully-charged cell phone. If you don't have one, contact us for a free emergency-access phone
- Plan an escape route from your home and ensure your children know how and when to use it
- Prepare an Escape Bag
- Prepare an Escape Plan so you and your children know what to do if the situation at home becomes unsafe or intolerable. Make sure your children know what to do if violence occurs. Call Peace House 800-647-9161 for help devising your escape plan
- Be aware of cruelty to pets and other animals by your abuser; this is often an indicator of impending violence against people. Remove pets from an abusive situation so the abuser can't use them to control you; call Friends of Animals Utah (Furburbia) at 435-649-5441 for temporary shelter for your pets
- Maintain a journal and photos documenting abusive behavior, including when and where it happened and the circumstances. Document whether children were present at the time and witnessed the abuse or violence. Keep the journal in a place where the abuser will not find it!
- Know and practice safe Internet use