Skip to Content

Quick Exit

At the top of this page there's a button that says ‘QUICK EXIT’. Click this button if you need to leave the website quickly. It will take you to a neutral web page.

The QUICK EXIT button is at the top of each page of the Domestic and Family Violence section of this website.

This doesn’t remove evidence that you’ve visited this website. To clear your browser and internet history, go to how to clear your internet history.

Domestic violence and technology

Domestic and family violence can include a partner or ex partner checking the websites you visit or using technology in other ways to control or harass you. Any behaviour online that makes you feel scared or unsafe is wrong. It could include:

  • sending you multiple emails or text messages a day
  • monitoring your computer’s activity through Spyware
  • tracking your location using GPS
  • watching you through hidden cameras
  • intercepting your phone calls and messages
  • impersonating you online or in text messages to others.

Trust your instincts. If you think an abusive person could be harassing, stalking, or monitoring you by using technology, clear your internet history and follow the other tips on this page for staying safe online and on your devices. For other types of help, check out:

Safe mobile apps

Daisy is a free app created specifically to help people who are in a domestic and family violence situation. These apps have been built with many safety features that allow you to use it discreetly without the risk of "tipping off" the abuser. These apps are available for Apple and Android phones.

The Daisy app:

  • connects you to domestic and family violence support services in your local area
  • each support service listing, such as "legal help" or "Aboriginal services" includes opening times, how to get in touch and the services they offer
  • allows you to surf the web from within the app without the websites showing up in your browser history

More information and how to download the Daisy app

Stay safe online

Clear your browser history

As you search the internet a record of your activity is recorded on the device you're using. Information from the sites you visit are saved to the ‘cache’ on your device. If you are in an abusive relationship, you may want to delete this data.

While it's difficult to completely delete your internet history, you can make it harder for someone to find it. Please read the instructions on how to clear your internet history on computers and mobile devices.

You can also visit eSafety Women to view videos and read information on safer internet browsing. eSafety Women is part of the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

Hide your identity while browsing

Private browsing allows you to surf the net without leaving a trail of history, passwords, cookies and other bits of info. Do do this, you will need to set your browser — such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer — to "private" or "incognito" mode. Each browser is different, so to find out what to do for the browser you're using, type "private browsing" into the search bar of Google or Bing.

Take care when messaging online

Messages sent through email, social networking sites — such as Facebook — and instant messaging services can be tracked and recorded. It may be safer to call from a landline or friend’s telephone rather than emailing. If you do communicate online, always make sure you log out of websites and clear your internet history.

Create an anonymous email account

Do not create or use an alternative account on any computer that your abuser may have access to. Create an anonymous user name and account you can use on a safer computer.

When creating a username, avoid using personal details about yourself such as your name. Instead create an unidentifying username such as bluecat@email.com or happypanda@email.com.

Keep using your old accounts

If you are going to change or replace an account you may consider keeping your old accounts going for day-to-day communication. Suddenly changing the way you communicate may make your abuser suspicious.

Protect or change passwords

Change your passwords, especially for your email and other online accounts, such as online banking. Choose new passwords that would be difficult for your abuser to guess. Avoid personal details such as birthdays, nicknames, pets' names or family information. Don’t share your passwords with anyone. Consider using a password manager service.

Limit social media contacts

Only add friends or contacts on social media you trust — and who won't share information about you with the abuser. Activate the privacy settings on all social media accounts.

Stay safe on your device

Make each device safe

The eSafety Women's take the tour suggests ways to keep your personal devices, and the ones in your home and car, 'safe'. It covers a wide range of devices — from keeping your computer and baby monitors safe to clearing your journey history from the GPS navigation system in your car, and limiting what you share about yourself via wearable devices, such as fitness devices.

The eSafety Women site also has more ways you can take control of your personal information, such as how to:

Use a safer computer

If you're worried someone is tracking your activity online, use the internet from another computer, such as a friend's computer or a computer at a public library or internet cafe. You will be surfing the web from someone else's browser so your browser history will be on their computer and not yours.

Check for signs of spyware

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner says it can be hard to know if someone is using spyware to monitor you but some tell tale signs include:

  • the battery of your device is dying faster than usual
  • unknown programs are operating in the background of your desktop
  • your speeds are slower
  • your abuser knows a lot about what you are doing, where you are, who you are talking to online, through emails, texts and calls.

If  you think spyware is being used, get a new device if possible or install anti-virus protection to help block spyware. Take the same safety steps for your child or children's devices especially if it's a gift from the abuser.

Ensure you're not being tracked

Your movements and location at any given time can be tracked via your device such as a mobile phone. If you suspect your abuser is tracking your location, eSafety Women advise:

eSafety Women also recommends checking all accounts that may give away your location such as:

  • credit and debit cards
  • eToll and eTag accounts
  • any accounts linked to the abuser's credit or debit cards

You can contact the credit or account providers and agencies to have your car and cards removed from linked accounts.

Check your mobile settings and GPS

Most mobile phones will regularly send GPS location information to different applications. It's important to turn off the location settings and services on your devices — here's how to do it

  • Apple — for instructions on how to change your location settings for Apple phones, visit their support website.
  • Android —  the steps for changing your location settings will likely differ depending on the make and model. Visit the support website for your phone or visit the website of your mobile service provider

Other tips:

  • Go to your mobile phone settings and make sure that other devices aren’t connected to your phone through Bluetooth or similar
  • When you download new apps, check its 'locations permissions'. If you have questions about location settings or third‐party applications call or visit your mobile service provider to ask them about this.

Keep personal information personal

If you have left a domestic or family violence situation and you don't want the abuser to know where you or your children are, here are some tips on keeping your personal details private.

Limit the information you give out

Most things we do online ask for personal information. Limit the information that you provide since you don’t know how this information will be shared or stored online.

Don’t give out your home address

If you’re concerned about someone knowing where you live, you can rent a Post Office Box (PO Box) or consider using another safe address that is not your home address. You can use this when you need to give out an address online.

Inform government agencies

If you have obtained an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) and or moved elsewhere to stay safe, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner suggests contacting:

  • government agencies such as Medicare, Child Support, MyHealth, MyGov, DSS and Centrelink
  • banks and other financial institutions
  • sporting clubs, RSLs, other social clubs
  • schools, childcare, kindergartens, preschools and any other place your child attends

and request that in writing that your private details not be accessible to the abuser, particularly if the abuser is your child’s father, as he may access information about the child. Read the full eSafety Women checklist.

Become a 'silent elector'

Your address could be publicly available to anyone looking up the electoral role, even if you haven't provided that information. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is able to put you on the electoral roll or update your details based on information from other government agencies.

You can apply to become a 'silent elector' so only your name and division will appear on the roll. Go to the AEC website and fill out an application form for your state. Any protection orders or police reports will aid your application.

Involve your children in eSafety

When taking steps to stay safe online consider eSafety for your children too. This includes checking to ensure location settings are turned off on their devices, limiting "friends" and connections on social media, and including the kids in eSafety planning.

Read more about how to keep children safe online, including:

  • how to involve your children in creating safety rules
  • blocking caller displays on their phones
  • helping them learn what information they can share online and what they can't share online, such as photos of their home or school.

Clear your internet history

Your internet history is a log of sites that you visit, recorded by your web browser. When you click on the back button, you are moving back one entry in the history log.

Browsers will normally clear your history at regular intervals, but if you are viewing any sensitive information, such as about domestic and family violence, you should clear it manually for your privacy and protection.

What about storing information?

Each time you access the internet your web browser stores or caches the information. This is done so the system can avoid having to retrieve files or info such as images or videos on a page from remote servers across the world when you’re browsing the web.

Regularly clearing the cache on your computer allows your browser to function more efficiently but it also offers you extra protection online.

To find out more information on how to clear your cache, check the support website for your browser — for example, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome — or follow the instructions below.

What about cookies?

A cookie is a file created by your web browser designed to hold small amounts of information about your online preferences. These files are stored on your computer. Typically a cookie stores user-specific information such as your selections in a form, shopping cart contents or authentication data.

Browsers will normally clear cookies that reach a certain age. Clearing out your cookies is also another useful way to stop your abuser from seeing what you do online.

For instructions on how to clear cookies, check the support website for your browser  — Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome. You can just type "how to clear cookies" into a search engine like Google or Bing.

Clear your internet history on desktop computers

Internet Explorer (Microsoft Windows)

The most updated information about Microsoft products such as the Internet Explorer browser can be found on their support website but we also have tips below on what the advice was at the time of writing.

Internet Explorer 9

  • Click the Tools Icon in the upper right section of the screen, then click Safety,
  • Click Delete browsing history.
  • Uncheck Preserve Favorites website data, and check
    • Temporary Internet files
    • Cookies
    • History
  • Click Delete.

Internet Explorer 8

  • Click the Safety menu in the upper right section of the screen, then click Delete Browsing History.
  • Deselect Preserve Favorites website data and select
  • Uncheck Preserve Favorites website data, and check
    • Temporary Internet files
    • Cookies
    • History
  • Click Delete.

Internet Explorer 7

  • Click the Tools menu at the top of the screen, then click Internet Options.
  • Under "Browsing history", click Delete.
  • To delete your cache, click Delete files. 
    • To delete your cookies, click Delete cookies.
    • To delete your history, click Delete history.
  • Click Close, and then click OK to exit.

Firefox (Mozilla)

The most updated information about Mozilla products such as the Firefox browser can be found on their support browser.

Firefox X

  • Click the menu button at the top right of the screen, then click History
  • Click Clear Recent History….
  • In the drop down box select the length of time you wish to delete
  • Click the arrow next to Details to expand the menu and select exactly what information will be cleared. Check:
    • Browsing & Download History
    • Cookies
    • Cache
    • Active Logins
    • Offline Website Data
    • Site Preferences
  • Finally, click the Clear Now button. The window will close and the items you've selected will be cleared.

Firefox 3

  • From the Tools menu at the top of the screen select Clear Private Data, then click the items you want to delete (e.g., Browsing History, Cache, Cookies).
  • Click Clear Private Data Now.

Safari (Apple)

The most updated information about Apple products such as the Safari browser can be found on their support browser.

  • Click on History, then click Clear History and Website Data,
  • Using the pop-up menu choose how far back you want delete your browsing history. Then select this option.
  • The window will close and the items you've selected will be cleared.

Chrome (Google)

The most updated information about Google products such as the Chrome browser can be found on their support browser.

  • In the upper right of the screen click on the Chrome menu
  • Then click History.
  • Click Clear browsing data.
  • Check the following options:
    1. Browsing History
    2. Download History,
    3. Cookies,
    4. Other site and plug-in data
    5. Cached images and files
  • Use the drop-down menu to select the length of time you want to clear. Then select this option.
  • Click Clear browsing data.
  • The window will close and the items you've selected will be cleared.

Clear your internet history on mobiles and tablets

Safari (Apple)

The most updated information about Apple products such as the Safari browser can be found on their support browser.

iPhone Mobile OS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)

  • Find Settings on your iPhone or iPad, this is generally located on the first page of your phone.
  • In the settings menu, find Safari and tap on it.
  • Tap Clear History

Chrome (Google)

The most updated information about Google products such as the Chrome browser can be found on their support browser.

Chrome for Android

  • Open Google Chrome
  • Tap the Chrome menu in the top right of the screen then tap Settings.
  • Tap (Advanced) Privacy.
  • Choose the data type you want to clear.
  • Tap Clear browsing data.

Chrome for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch OS

  • Open Google Chrome
  • Tap the Chrome menu in the top right of the screen then tap Settings.
  • Tap Privacy.
  • Choose the data type you want to clear.
  • Tap Clear.

Clearing your browser if you have an Android device

The steps for clearing your cache, cookies, and history will likely differ depending on the make and model of your Android device. If you are unsure about the make and model of your phone consider asking your service provider in store for help identifying it.

However, you should be able to clear the cache and data from your settings menu on most Android phones.

The general process for this is the following:

  1. Find the Settings options on your phone and tap on Apps or Application Manager.
  2. Swipe to All.
  3. In the list of installed apps, find and tap on your web browser (it will typically be labelled Internet and will generally have a picture of the globe for an icon).
  4. Find and tap Clear Data and then Clear Cache.
  5. Exit/quit all browser windows and re-open the browser.

Acknowledgement

We have adapted information for this page from different reliable sources. The NSW Government would like to acknowledge and thank:

Was this content useful?