Cyber stalking, or using the Internet to spy on or harm someone, is a rapidly growing threat to domestic violence survivors. Fortunately, there are resources that can help you stay safe.
Resources at the University of Michigan
U-M employees and students can choose to keep their personal information private by hiding it from others. Instructions for doing so are available from Information Technology Services at www.itcs.umich.edu/itcsdocs/s4276.
Members of the university community who believe they are being harmed by someone in violation of the university's information technology policies can seek help from the University of Michigan User Advocate. You can contact that office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website provides information on university policies, the rights and responsibilities of university community members, how to protect against identity misrepresentation and theft, and other helpful information.
Information Technology Security Services offers Tools & Tips for Protecting Your Computer and Data. The University of Michigan Department of Public Safety (734-763-1131) is also a resource for addressing crimes such as stalking or financial fraud that involve the Internet and affect a member of the university community.
A number of national organizations that address domestic violence provide information about Internet security.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides basic information on avoiding stalking through the Internet.
Kent State University provides links to several other sites from its page on Internet Safety, part of its domestic violence awareness website.
One of those sites, "Privacy and the Internet, Traveling in Cyberspace Safely," posted by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, includes particularly complete information on how to maintain or increase your safety, with detailed instructions for a variety of internet browsers.
If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct or remote (hacking) access to.
- 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 and Internet activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.
- It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints" of your computer or online activities. 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, be careful how you use your computer since an abuser might become suspicious. You may want to keep using the monitored computer for innocuous activities, like looking up the weather. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or apartments, bus tickets, or ask for help.
- Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.
- 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 community technology center (CTC) at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.