Tech Safety for Survivors of Domestic Violence: A Comprehensive Guide

Published Categorized as Guide

Content Warning: This guide delves into aspects of domestic violence and abuse, aiming to empower survivors through knowledge and practical tips for navigating technology safely.

Understanding the Intersection of Technology and Domestic Violence

In today’s digital age, technology plays a ubiquitous role in our lives, facilitating communication, managing finances, and controlling various aspects of our environment. Unfortunately, this digitization also presents opportunities for abusive individuals to exploit technology as a means of control and surveillance.

The Scope of Digital Security Challenges

Domestic violence situations introduce unique digital security challenges, often not addressed by conventional resources. The proximity to the abuser, shared living spaces, and coercion tactics amplify the risks associated with technology use.

Empowering Survivors Through Digital Autonomy

Empowering survivors involves equipping them with the knowledge and tools to assert control over their digital lives. By understanding potential threats and implementing protective measures, survivors can reclaim autonomy in the digital realm.

Part 1: Establishing Trust in Your Devices

Key Takeaway: To use your devices safely, it’s crucial to ensure their integrity and prevent unauthorized access.

Recognizing Signs of Tampering

  • Physical Indicators: Loose parts, missing screws, or unusual scratches may indicate tampering.
  • Behavioral Changes: Unexplained alterations in device behavior or your abuser’s discouragement of using alternative devices can signal interference.

Securing Smartphones and Computers

  • Phone Security: Set up strong passcodes, enable encryption, and regularly check for unusual activity.
  • Computer Safety: Utilize encryption for hard drives and beware of external devices like keyloggers.

Utilizing Trusted Resources

  • Library Access: Public libraries offer secure computing facilities and assistance from trained staff.
  • Alternative Transportation: When trust in personal vehicles is compromised, consider utilizing taxis or public transit to maintain privacy.

Part 2: Safeguarding Your Files and Data

Key Takeaway: Protecting sensitive information involves utilizing secure storage solutions and implementing encryption.

Leveraging Cloud Storage

  • Online Backup: Services like Dropbox provide secure storage for files accessible from any trusted device.
  • Password Protection: Strengthen cloud security with robust, unique passwords and two-factor authentication.

Secret USB Sticks and Document Scanning

  • Hidden Storage: Conceal important files on encrypted USB sticks with secret partitions.
  • Document Preservation: Digitize vital records to maintain accessibility and facilitate recovery if confiscated.

Part 3: Securing Communications Against Surveillance

Key Takeaway: Maintaining private communications necessitates encrypted messaging and careful social media management.

Encryption Practices

  • Encrypted Apps: Utilize platforms like WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal for secure messaging.
  • Email Security: Implement two-factor authentication and avoid sharing sensitive information via email.

Social Media Precautions

  • Privacy Settings: Adjust account privacy settings to limit visibility and minimize exposure to surveillance.
  • Anonymous Usage: Consider creating pseudonymous accounts to obscure your online presence.


  1. What are the key challenges of digital security in domestic violence situations?
    • Proximity to the abuser, shared living spaces, and coercion tactics amplify the risks associated with technology use in domestic violence situations.
  2. How can I recognize signs of tampering with my devices?
    • Look for physical indicators such as loose parts or scratches, and be wary of behavioral changes in device operation or discouragement from using alternative devices.
  3. What steps can I take to secure my smartphone and computer?
    • Secure your devices with strong passcodes, enable encryption, and regularly monitor for unusual activity or unauthorized access.
  4. What are some alternative solutions for secure file storage and document preservation?
    • Utilize cloud storage services with strong password protection and two-factor authentication, or conceal files on encrypted USB sticks with secret partitions.
  5. How can I maintain private communications and protect my online presence from surveillance?
    • Use encrypted messaging apps, adjust social media privacy settings, and consider creating pseudonymous accounts to minimize exposure to surveillance.

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