Staying safe online

Technology can provide essential support for domestic abuse victims and survivors. But there are also risks. Find out more about staying safe online.

For someone experiencing domestic abuse, it can feel like every aspect of their world is controlled by the abuser — and the online world is no different. Although technology can help victims to access information and support, it can also provide abusers with even more ways to threaten and control.

Safety planning used to focus on asking victims and survivors to reduce their use of technology, delete social media accounts and get rid of their smartphone.

But this isn’t only unrealistic — it punishes the victim, cuts them off from their support and social networks and leaves them isolated.

Instead, we need to concentrate on how to use technology safely and address any potential risks.

    Top tips to help keep safe online

  • Think about your digital footprint

    Look at all areas that you use tech in your life and consider if you need to improve your understanding, update your security or restrict your visibility.

  • Be password savvy

    Strong passwords are crucial to protecting our accounts. Change usernames and passwords, even if you don't think they've been compromised. You can use a password manager to help. Also consider using two-step verification for added security.

  • Check security settings

    Update security settings on social media accounts so that only the people who you want to connect with can see your posts, photos and information. See below for links to change your settings.

  • Be aware of location settings

    Lots of apps and software record information about your geographical location, and this information could be misused by someone with access to your accounts or devices. Check which apps are using location settings and then turn off any that you don’t need.

  • Think about tracking

    There are many ways that tech can allow a person to follow your movements. The most common way is via apps that you have installed yourself, which another person then accesses information from. To minimise the risk of this, consider turning off tracking apps when not in use e.g. ‘find my friends/phone/tablet’, GPS fitness trackers, satnav.

  • Break the connections

    Do you have any connected or joint accounts? Could these have been installed on more than one device and could give someone access to your information or devices? This could include accounts for iTunes, app stores, Google Play store, eBay, Amazon, Kindle and others.

  • Consider other tech at home

    Are there smart home devices e.g. Amazon Echo (Alexa), Google Home, a smart thermostat, house alarm system or other controls that can be accessed remotely and could be used to monitor or impact you? Change the passwords on these, to ensure that only trusted people can access them.

  • Secure your home WiFi network

    A person may be able to access your devices via the WiFi network, which will be accessible without you being inside your home. Change the login details and password so that your network cannot be accessed without your knowledge.

  • Be camera aware

    Cameras and devices can be accessed remotely or activated by apps. Cover the webcam on your computer/tablet when not in use.

Close up of hands holding a phone

Links to update your social media settings

Use the links below to make changes to your accounts:

Bright Sky app by Hestia

Bright Sky is a free to download mobile app, launched by Hestia in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, providing support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know. The app is also designed to be used by specialist and non-specialist practitioners and other employers, and for anyone looking for information about issues around domestic abuse such as online safety, stalking and harassment and sexual consent.

Find out more

Our research

Support from other organisations

More help and support

Woman carrying her baby walking along the beach, sea next to her.

Get help and support

SafeLives isn't a domestic abuse service. But if you're experiencing domestic abuse or you're worried about a friend or family member, help is available.

Reach In

It’s hard to reach out for help from behind closed doors. That is why we are asking you to reach in. Find out what you can do to help.
Two people sit, back to camera, on a log, arms around each other

Supporting friends and family

Guidance and advice to help friends and family support victims and survivors of domestic abuse. Learn how to respond, what to say and help someone stay safe.