Once you have left - this safe guarding still needs to continue. Abusers don't like it when their victims get away because it means they have lost control which as we know is the one thing they crave. They will try a range of tactics to get you back, they may tell you they have changed overnight and promise you the world...these are empty promises and once you go back the abuse will continue and increase. If you have stayed strong they may then turn nasty and try and continue the abuse on you.
Social media is one of the ways they feel they can still have control over you and subject you to further abuse and hurt. Abusers are very devious and can even use social media to portray themselves as the victim and attempt to blacken your name. Whether the contact is an attempt to win you back or an attempt to discredit you there is one thing that is certain....and that is that any form of contact with an abuser is not good for you. Wherever possible you should adopt the "NO CONTACT" rule. Obviously this is difficult if you have children in which case your communications with the abuser should be kept to a minimum and be as professional in context as possible and solely regarding the children.
Ending an abusive relationship is very different to ending a normal relationship and you have to be quite ruthless in your approach in order to stay safe and minimise the risk. Here are some tips for staying safe online:
- If you had a joint email account - delete it.
- For your own personal email account, If possible create a completely new email account for yourself that would prevent him contacting you at all.
- If this is not practical then change the password to one that he wouldn't be able to guess
- Take him out of your contacts list so any correspondence from him will go into your spam/ junk mail.
- If you have any threatening emails save them in a separate email and take advise from the domestic abuse helpline and the police where necessary. Do not reply to them.
- Remove him from your friends list and then go into "Privacy Settings", then "Blocking" and add him to your BLOCK LIST. This will ensure that if you post on another persons wall or public profile then he still won't be able to see what you have written, and he won't be able to search for you.
- If you have uploaded any photos of him or of both of you together DELETE them
- If other people have photos of you together remove the tag of yourself, if they are your close friends you may feel comfortable asking them to remove the photo altogether.
- Abusers may get other people to do their stalking and monitoring of you for them so also unfriend any members of their family and their close friends
- If you have mutual friends that you want to keep, add them to your "restricted list". This can be found in "Privacy Settings" and "restricted list". In time you may feel comfortable with them and can choose to take them off this list
- Setting up a fake account is one of the things an abuser might do so keep on your toes when accepting new friend requests, and only accept people who you genuinely know.
- Change your "Privacy Settings and tools" section. Where it says "who can look me up? change to "friends of friends" and where it says "who can see your future posts" change this to friends.
- Do not use facebook status' as a means to get revenge on your abuser....it is futile and can go against you. People who are unaware of the nature of domestic abuse may mistake this for some kind of jealousy and attachment to the relationship. People love gossip and things may get back to the abuser. The abusers life solely revolves around him - nothing you can say will change this or stop him from continuing to abuse. Focus instead of your new found freedom and restoring yourself to the person you were prior to the abuse.
- Twitter doesn't have the same security settings as Facebook, even if you block someone your tweets are still in the public domain. If your partner knew of your twitter account my advise would be to simply DEACTIVATE the account and set up a new one. Before you do this you could DM the followers you trust and want to keep with details of your new account
- When setting up a new account remain anonymous. Choose a username that does not identify you and a strong password he would never guess
- Do not follow him or any of his friends on twitter. If you know his account and add him to the Block list.
- In the twitter setting un-tick the box that says "add a location to my tweets"
- There are a growing number of Domestic Abuse awareness campaigners on twitter and if twitter is used in the right way it can be an excellent source of information and support. Try searching on the hashtags: #domesticabuse #domesticviolence #dv #dva #VAW #vilenceagainstwomen #emotionalabuse. Follow domestic violence charities nationally and in your area.
- As Linkedin is a professional networking site you may still be required to use this for your work and will have to use your name and photo
- Do NOT post any personal information - keep everything professional and strictly about work
- If your abuser is already a connection - remove the connection
- Do not look at your abusers profile - if your settings are profile he will be able to see you have viewed him
I have tried to cover the most popular social network sites but the advise is the same for any that you had while you were with him. Either deactivate accounts and set up new ones or change the password.
Leaving abuse is a difficult journey and all survivors should get as much knowledge as they can about the domestic abuse they suffered. Taking control of your life and protecting yourself both in reality and online is one of the ways you will empower yourself.