LearningOnline Abuse

Are You at risk???

Are You at risk???

Are You at Risk???

If you are feeling unsafe right now, ring One Double Zero (100).

You can use your technology, such as your phone or computer, to find support and stay in touch with trusted friends and family.

Technology can also be used negatively by someone – such as your partner or ex-partner – to abuse, humiliate and control you. It can even be used to monitor your communications and activities without your knowledge. It can cause you great distress, making you feel frightened and isolated.

No one needs to put up with this. But how do you know if you are at risk of abuse through technology? What are the ‘red flags’ that could alert you to the fact that things are not right?

The red flags

Abusive behavior

Remember that all these behaviors are abusive and they are not okay.

Does the other person:

  • know too much about you and what you are doing? If they know: things about you that you haven’t revealed—where you have been or they turn up unexpectedly where you are; about conversations that they shouldn’t know about, conversations you thought were private—then they may have accessed your phone or computer without your permission
  • have access to your phone? They can look at call logs, emails, texts, browser history or load spyware if they want to
  • want to control your use of technology, or block your access to it?
  • constantly check on you through your social media activity or text logs?
  • persistently send frequent and unwanted texts or messages, or make calls that are abusive or silent?
  • post defamatory comments, malicious rumours or generally ‘put you down’, or want to humiliate or ridicule you?
  • post messages that are harassing, threatening or demanding, such as ‘what are you doing?’ ‘who are you with?’ ‘where are you?’
  • start contacting your friends or family to check up on you or to tell damaging stories about you?
  • pressure you to send intimate pictures to them and then share them without your consent?
  • control your finances online?
  • threaten to upload compromising photos or videos about you if you don’t do what they want?

Misuse of technology

Take care if any of these activities are true for you.

Have your passwords stopped working? Someone might have hacked your device and changed the passwords so you can no longer get into your accounts.

Have you unexpectedly been given a computer or phone? Sometimes a phone with location tracking is given to a child, when there is a separation, or you may receive offers to ‘fix’ your computer or phone.

Are you receiving abusive emails or texts from strangers or anonymous senders?

Have you found a fake social media account in your name?

Have you found evidence of unusual activity in your email account: emails have been read, marked unread, sent or deleted from your account…but not by you?

Has your computer has started running very slowly? It could be caused by additional processes, such as malware and spyware, running in the background.

Is your phone not working properly? Does it take too long to turn off, does the battery start draining too quickly? Your phone could have tracking software on it which slows things down.

What can I do to protect myself?

Follow these tips for managing your online activities and stay safe, or get help if you need to.

  1. Set strong pass-codes and passwords for all of your devices, change them frequently and do not share them with anyone.
  2. Turn off location services on your phone and computer, and do not ‘check in’ through your social media accounts.
  3. Be very careful about opening attachments in emails and messages.
  4. Be aware of your privacy when posting online – avoid posting identifying information, including in photos.
  5. Use your social media accounts safely – block unknown or abusive people, and use the highest level security and privacy settings on your accounts to make sure your posts are only seen by the people you choose.
  6. Double check which programs and software are loaded on your devices; remove any that you did not put there yourself; seek help from a tech expert if you cannot find or remove the unknown programs; if necessary do a ‘factory reset’ to send the device back to ‘as new’ (though back up important data first!).
  7. Use a safer computer if you are not confident your computer is 100% clean, for example use a public library computer or a trusted friend’s computer or device.

And, most importantly, trust your instincts. You are in the best position to know if things are not right, and to take control of your online experience.

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