How to browse the web and communicate safely


Following the actions on this page may NOT BE ENOUGH to prevent an abuser from tracking your online activity and ensuring your safety. The safest way to find information online is to use a computer at a library, a friend's house, or work. If you have further questions or would like to better understand your technology options, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.

If you are in danger, please

  • Call 911,

  • Call the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center at (701) 293-7273 / (800) 344-7273, and, or

  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-800-799-SAFE.

Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential way to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life, please call instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.

  • There are hundreds of ways that computers record everything you do on the computer and on the Internet.

  • If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct access, or even remote (hacking) access to.

  • It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a community technology center (CTC) (national directory), at a trusted friend's house, or an Internet Cafe.

  • If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don't need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone's computer activities - anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers, and hacking tools.

  • Computers can provide a lot of information about what you look at on the Internet, the emails you send, and other activities. It is not possible to delete or clear all computer "footprints". If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors such as suddenly deleting your entire Internet history if that is not your regular habit.

  • If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, you might consider no home Internet use or "safer" Internet surfing. Example: If you are planning to flee to California, don't look at classified ads for jobs and apartments, bus tickets, etc for California on a home computer or any computer an abuser has physical or remote access to. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan.

  • Computers can store a lot of private information about what you look at via the Internet, the emails and instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities. It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a trusted friend's house, or an Internet Cafe.

Traditional "corded" phones are more private than cell phones or cordless phones.