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Controlling Behaviour: How To Stay Safe Online

15 JanWoman using a laptop

In our recent blog, Coercive Behaviour Legislation: What Does It Cover?, we explained the effects of controlling and coercive behaviour on an individual’s life and the new legislative measures which have been introduced to bring perpetrators to justice. One of the fastest growing ways that perpetrators will seek to establish control is by monitoring their partner’s online behaviour. This can be done by checking social media profiles, reading emails or by using software to monitor the websites visited.

Research by Women’s Aid shows the scale of the problem:

  • 85% of those questioned said that their partner or ex-partner’s pattern of abuse included abuse online.
  • 29% of those questioned said that their partner or ex-partner had used spyware or GPS locators on their computer or mobile phone.
  • 50% of those questioned said that the online abuse they received involved direct threats to other people they knew.
  • Almost a third of those questioned who said that they had received online threats from a partner or ex-partner; said the perpetrator had gone on to carry out the threat.

It is therefore important to take a few minutes to discover ways of staying safe online and we have put together the following tips and advice.

Private Internet Browsing

When you browse websites, your internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome etc.) will save information related to your activity. We therefore recommend that you make use of the “private browsing” mode which is offered by all of the leading internet browsers. Doing so will not leave this information on your computer for other people to find. You can access private browsing mode by:

  • Internet Explorer: Open the browser and press CTRL, Shift and P on your keyboard.
  • Firefox: Click the three horizontal line menu button and select ‘New Private Window'.
  • Google Chrome: Open the browser and press CTRL, Shift and N on your keyboard. 
  • Safari: Open the browser and click the ‘cog’ menu button in the top right hand corner. From this drop menu, select ‘Private Browsing’.


If you receive threatening or abusive emails, we would recommend that you print them off and store them securely for use as evidence. If you are worried that someone may gain access to your emails, do not hesitate to contact our helpline on 0300 561 0077 for advice.

Social Media

If someone is abusing or harassing you through social media, there are a number of things you can do, including:

  • Unfriend or unfollow them.
  • Block the person who is being abusive from viewing your profile and contacting you.
  • Report the person who is being abusive from viewing your profile or contacting you.

In addition to that, be sure to double check that you are logged out of your account once you are finished. This ensures that no one can view your profile and messages without your consent. 

If you are experiencing domestic abuse or know someone who is, you can get confidential advice on what to do next by calling our completely free 24 hour helpline – 0300 561 0077. 

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