Your privacy - keep yourself safe
Warning: if you're worried about someone knowing you have visited this website please read the following safety information. Please note, the information below is for guidance only and may not completely cover your tracks. If you want to be completely sure of not being tracked online, the safest way would be to access the internet at a local library, an internet cafe, friend's house or at work.

How can an abuser discover your internet activities?
Computer spyware is becoming very easy to purchase and install on home computers. You may think that you are safe to access a home computer, not knowing that what you do is being tracked.

What is spyware?
Spyware is computer software that can be installed surreptitiously on a person's computer without their consent. The person who has installed the spyware can then access the computer remotely from another computer, and can monitor information input into that computer e.g. the user's visited webpages, emails, keystrokes etc.

Is it possible to tell if the computer has spyware on it?
It is often not possible to tell if the computer has spyware on it. A person being abused may realise that their abuser is using spyware because the abuser knows information that would be difficult to find out by any other means.

What should a person do if they suspect that their computer has spyware on it?
  • Use a computer at a public library or an internet cafe if you suspect there is any possibility of your abuser monitoring a home computer
  • Do not use home computers to raise any suspicion or give information to the abuser e.g. researching websites about domestic abuse, sending revealing emails to friends and family
  • Do not look up websites about removing spyware as this will raise suspicion
  • Do not attempt to remove the spyware as this will raise suspicion (also, the spyware could be used in evidence against the abuser in a court case)
  • If the victim has children who witness abuse or are also being abused, warn them not to use the home computer in relation to what is happening at home, but to use a friend's computer, the library or an internet cafe
Click here for more information on spyware.

Clearing your browser history
Abusers can also look at the history of sites you've visited easily - normally internet browsers will save certain information as you surf the internet. This includes images from websites visited, words entered into search engines and a trail that reveals the sites you have visited. Below are instructions on how to minimize the chances of someone finding out that you have visited this website.

Warning about deleting cookies and address histories. It's important to state that there is a risk involved in removing data from your computer. For instance, if your partner uses online banking and has a saved password, then if you clear the cookies on your PC, your partner will realise you've done so, because their password will no longer be saved. Also, your partner may notice if the address history on the PC has been cleared, and this may raise suspicion.

How do I work out which browser I'm using?
If you know what browser you are using, then skip to the relevant instructions below. If you do not know the type of browser you are using, click on Help on the toolbar at the top of the browser screen. A drop down menu will appear, the last entry will say About Internet Explorer, About Mozilla Firefox, or something similar. The entry refers to which browser type you are using - you should then refer to the relevant instructions below.

Internet Explorer 6
  1. Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options.
  2. On the General page, under Temporary Internet Files, click on Delete Cookies and then OK.
  3. Click on Delete Files, put a tick in the box labeled Delete all offline content and click OK.
  4. Under History, click on Clear History and then OK.
  5. Now look at the top of the window and click on the Content tab, select AutoComplete and finally, Clear Forms.
Internet Explorer 7
  1. Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options.
  2. In the General page under Browser History, select the Delete... button.
  3. Either select and delete each section: Temporary internet files; Cookies, History; Forms data and Passwords; or select the Delete all... button at the bottom to clear everything.
Internet Explorer 8
  1. Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options.
  2. In the General page under Browsing History, select the Delete... button.
  3. Tick the boxes of all the items you want to delete then select the Delete button at the bottom to clear everything.
Click here for further guidance on settings in Internet Explorer.

Firefox 1
  1. Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy.
  2. Click on the Clear button next to History; Saved Form Information; Cookies and Cache.
Firefox 2 and 3
  1. Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy.
  2. In private data select Settings, ensure that all boxes have been selected and then click on Clear Now
Netscape 7
  1. Click on the Edit menu and select Preferences.
  2. In the left pane, expand History then in the right area click Clear History.
  3. Next, expand Privacy and Security and select Cookies then on the button Manage Stored Cookies and in the new dialog box click Remove All Cookies.
  4. Then repeat similar for Forms and the Manage Stored Form Data button and the same for Passwords and the Manage Stored Passwords button.
  5. Aditionally, you may Manage Forms, Cookies and Passwords individually from the Tools menu - but not the temporary page Cache files.
Opera
  1. Click on Tools and then Preferences.
  2. Click on the Advanced tab and then the History section on the left-hand side.
  3. Click the Clear button to the right of Addresses and the Empty Now button to the right of Disk cache.
Note that Opera does not have an easy wasy to clear all Cookies.

Safari (often used on Apple Macs)
Resetting Safari clears the history, empties the cache, clears the Downloads window, and removes all cookies. It also removes any saved user names and passwords or other AutoFill data and clears Google/Yahoo search entries.
  1. To do this go to the Safari menu at top left hand screen.
  2. Choose Reset Safari, and click Reset.
Quickly deleting just your browsing history
Internet browsers keep a record of all the web pages you visit. This is known as a 'history'. To delete history for Internet Explorer and Netscape/Firefox hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard, then press the H key (Crtl, Alt and H for Opera). Find any entries you wish to remove, right click and choose Delete. For Safari, select History at top of the screen and choose Clear History.

E-mail
If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing e-mail messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse. Be aware of how records of your emails can be accessed.

  • Any email you have previously sent will be stored in sent Items. Go to sent items and delete emails you don't want a person to see.
  • If you started an email but didn't finish it, it might be in your drafts folder. Go to the draft folder to delete it.
  • If you reply to any email, the original message will probably be in the body of the message - delete the email if you dont want anyone to see your original message.
  • When you delete an item in any email program (Outlook Express, Outlook, Thunderbird etc) it does not really delete the item - it moves the item to a folder called Deleted Items. You have to delete the items in Deleted Items to remove them completely.
  • If there's a risk that your abuser may know how to access your emails, it's a good idea to set up a new email account. Use a provider like Hotmail or Yahoo for an account you can access from anywhere, and use a name that is not recognisable as you, for example bakedbeans@hotmail.co.uk. Keep this email secret.

Search Engine Toolbars
Toolbars such as Google, AOL and Yahoo keep a record of the search words you have typed into the toolbar search box. In order to erase all the search words you have typed in, you will need to check the individual instructions for each type of toolbar. For example, for the Google toolbar all you need to do is click on the Google icon, and choose Clear Search History.