Anyone who visits SWiC’s website and clicks on "What is this?" below the "QUICK ESCAPE" button will see this warning. Most, if not all, domestic violence organizations will show a similar warning on their websites. Some will have a “Quick Escape” button, while others will give instructions about erasing your computer history, or both. The following tips are important to protect yourself from someone stalking or harassing you.
Email or Instant/Text Messaging (IM) is not a safe or confidential way to communicate. Sending email is like sending a postcard through the mail. Anyone along the path can read what it says. If you need to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life, if possible, please call a hotline instead. (SWiC’s 24-hour hotline is 570.622.6220 or 1.800.282.0634.) If you must use email to discuss your situation, we suggest you use an account that your abuser doesn't know about. Set up a new account with a free email service like hotmail, yahoo, or gmail. If the computer asks if you would like it to save your password or login information, tell it NO.
Be cautious about passwords to keep your abuser out of your accounts. Change your password(s) often and DO NOT store passwords. DO NOT use a name or password that contains any identifying information (no names, nicknames, initials, birthdates, zipcodes, etc.). Instead use a name and password that contains a random mix of upper and lower case letters and numbers (for example, HJ3v67Tn). Make sure you can remember the user name and password. If you must write it down somewhere, put it in a place where your abuser is unlikely to find it. If the computer asks if you would like it to save your password or login information, tell it NO.
RUSafe is a free dangerous relationship assessment app for Apple or Android that invites the user to answer a series of questions about her/his relationship. The app then calculates the responses and, if there is cause for concern, it will enable the user to directly call the domestic violence hotline in their area. If the user is in immediate, lethal danger, s/he can call 9-1-1 directly from the app. RUSafe is based on the Danger Assessment developed by Jacquelyn C. Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. The app was developed by the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh and Newton Consulting, who generously donated their time and services.
Click HERE for more information.
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association has announced two new apps for smartphones created by APPRISS called VINELink and MobilePatrol. Both apps are free and available through the Apple App Store and Google Play and can be downloaded on iPhone and Android devices.
VINELink enables users to track and be notified of the status of offenders in county correctional institutions and the PA State Prison System. VINELink is anonymous for users, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With the Vinemobile app, the user can obtain up-to-date offender status and search for offenders by first and last names or by age/gender. Individuals can register to receive notifications through phone, email, or text whenever an offender’s status changes. The app also provides access to PA’s victim services as well as other emergency numbers with a single tap. The system is also available online.
The MobilePatrol app was created to increase community safety by enabling any concerned citizen to connect to important safety information, news, and critical alerts such as descriptions of an actor sought in a recent crime, weather alerts, or missing children alerts for any location of interest. In addition, the app can be used to report tips on suspected crimes and offenders. You can download the MobilePatrol app at https://apprisssafety.com/solutions/mobilepatrol/.
Information you have brought up on the internet (including this webpage) may be viewed by anyone who knows how to access your computer's history or cache file. In order to prevent this tracking from happening, you should turn on private browsing and/or clear your browser's history. This task can be done by accessing your internet browser settings.
PLEASE NOTE: Clearing web browser histories in this way will delete ALL histories of visited websites. If you are concerned that someone may be checking up on your internet usage, the absence of all files and history may appear suspicious. Instead of clearing your history every time you visit the webpage, you can use the instructions below to turn on private browsing before you visit the webpage. Additionally, other software programs are available that can track website visits.
Here is what to do:
If you are using an older version of Internet Explorer or have issues with these directions, see Microsoft's page about how to delete browsing history in Internet Explorer.
If you believe that someone may be monitoring your internet activity, try using a friend's computer or one at the public library. You can call SWiC’s 24-hour hotline at 570.622.6220 or 800.282.0634 for help in avoiding a trail of visited internet websites.
Listen to this interview from radio station Midlands 103
discussing the surge in the use of technology as means of stalking.
If you are currently speaking to someone online and plan to meet them, understand the warning signs of an abuser. Abuse is about power and control, and abusers try to mask their efforts to control you, usually by explaining controlling behavior as simply a great desire to be with you. NOTE: Abusers may exhibit many other signs, and some signs are not apparent in the beginning of a relationship, but the following are common: