In a world where having an online presence is almost unavoidable, it can be difficult for targets and survivors of abuse to figure out how to keep themselves safe from online stalking. More often than not the abuser will keep track of Facebook accounts, LinkedIn profiles, you name it!
We May Not Always Think Of Our Abuser’s Behavior As Online Stalking, But It Probably Is
As soon as our online information is scooped up in order to be used against us, there is a stalking issue there. And ‘used against you’ can be inducing guilt, or reminding us we are still on their radar.
“I think the very word stalking implies that you’re not supposed to like it.
Otherwise, it would be called ‘fluffy harmless observation time’.”
― Molly Harper
So how can you gain your online freedom?
Common Sense Is Key
Make sure you keep yourself safe online. So don’t over-share. This is good practice for every person in the world, really. But it is good to remind ourselves as survivors. When you think “over-sharing” your thoughts may jump straight to compromising pictures or address details, but it includes way more. Don’t share your holiday itinerary, or in fact give any information about where you are going to be. Keep details safe, so no addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses in public places. Keep your privacy settings under control so that you know who you are sharing with. And remember that likes and comments can open up your content to other people’s networks.
On Facebook you can create a secret group for your closest friends and family. This is a good way to safely open up about plans, events, and thoughts that you want to keep away from your abuser. This allows you to control exactly who can and cannot access that information.
Check out more tips at Get Safe Online.
Also look through this Tech Safety List on LoveIsRespect.org for some good tips.
Don’t Let Fear Take Over
For a long time I let fear control what I did online. I was so freaked out at the idea of my family looking into me that I just kind of froze. That made it more difficult to keep in touch with my friends (since they have spread around the globe), but it also became an issue for my work. Every time I felt I had closed one door, my family focused on another window. Hiding from them became somewhat of an obsession. Then it hit me. They are still controlling me through fear. So I let go of it.
If they say living well is the best revenge, then let them know you are living well!
Guard Your Privacy
Make sure that the things you want to keep private remain so. Connecting to others about your experiences is important, but doing so in a safe environment is more important still. Although you can connect in Facebook groups or Google+ Hangouts that are shielded from the public, you are still connecting through your own identity. Besides, a phone is easily left unguarded with access to all your social media apps. We have our own Facebook group too, but we recognize that there is only so much we can do to keep you all safe in there.
When we started SwanWaters, safety (and therefore privacy) ranked so high on our priorities list that it made it into our mission statement. That is why we decided to be a membership site. Now you can create an anonymous profile and be assured privacy when discussing sensitive recovery topics.
So join today and find a safe haven to vent everything that you would like to keep away from your abuser (including your holiday pics, if you want ;)).
Do you have more tips on how to gain your freedom online? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, or in the Hiding Online discussion on our forum.