If you have been the victim of abuse, and you were able to move on, then you are a strong individual, because escape is not always easy. Fear, low self-esteem, and a lack of resources can often make some feel stuck in an abusive relationship, even if they desperately want to leave. This is why it is so important to keep your distance from the abuser and stay as safe as possible once you get out.
Whether it is spousal abuse, child abuse, or anything in between, you need to learn some of the security and safety basics that will keep your family safe. Know that you are not alone. Many organizations exist to see you thrive post-abuse. Plus, there are many tech tips that you can follow to feel secure wherever you go. Follow these tips and start your new life in confidence.
Signs of Abuse
The sad part about abuse is that the guilty party is often someone you love. Every year, 10 million people suffer abuse at the hands of a spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, a term known as intimate partner violence. Some people may not realize until too late that they are being abused, so it is important to know the signs. Physical abuse can be anything from hitting to threatening to strike another person.
There is also sexual and psychological abuse. The latter could involve an abuser who constantly insults, embarrasses, or prevents you from seeing loved ones.
A big sign of psychological abuse is that they want to keep tabs on everything you do and control the places you go to. Many abusers might try to put apps on your phone that can track your activities and your location, a type of software known as stalkerware.
If you feel that you are being followed or spied on after you leave your abusive relationship or you just want to be extra safe, then you should check your phone for unfamiliar apps. If you find any software that you do not recognize, search the name online and if you find that it is stalkerware, uninstall it immediately. It may also be a good idea to do a factory reset of your phone from the settings menu, which deletes any software not added at the factory.
Protect Your Devices
It is important to note that stalkerware can only be installed by the user, so you need to be careful of what you click and open. Spyware can often be sent via a phishing email.
One of the most common forms of cybercrime, a phishing email is a message that is meant to look to be from a figure of authority, like the bank or a coworker, but it contains a link or attachment that, when clicked or opened, unleashes anything from an unwanted program to a virus onto your system.
The first step to avoiding this unwanted access is to not open any email attachments unless you know the recipient, and you know it is coming ahead of time.
Now that you know what to avoid, you need to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your devices without your permission. If you’re on a computer, that starts with having a complicated password that includes letters, numbers, and special characters. Pair that with some form of two-factor authentication, which is an additional code or fingerprint that will provide double protection.
If you have children, you will also need to keep them protected. As far as social media is concerned, make sure that their app of choice has the proper protections. Switch accounts to private mode, so only people you invite can view your profile and block any suspicious people that you don’t know personally.
Kids and adults need to be cautious when using devices in public places like coffee shops. Before connecting to the Wi-Fi, ask an employee for the correct network because if you connect to a fake account created by a hacker or an angry ex-partner, you could unwittingly be connecting directly to their device as they gain access to your information.
Protect Your Home
While you want to stay safe and protected while online, you also deserve peace and quiet while in the privacy of your own home. Start by getting a good security system that comes equipped with alarms, cameras, and a 24-hour support team so you can report an issue at any time. Pair this system with lights that are activated by motion sensors, so you will always know when someone is outside, and the camera can capture the intruders clearly.
Good security also includes common-sense solutions. Keep all doors and windows locked whenever they are not in use, even during the day. It is also a good idea to get to know some of your neighbors. You don’t have to give them a spare key, but they may be the ones who call emergency services if they see anything suspicious going on around your home.
You may decide to install a smart device, such as a doorbell camera or smart speakers that allow you to control the utilities in your home. However, these devices can also be hacked. Make sure that you equip them with strong passwords. Register your products and join the mailing list because the company will inform you when updates are available. Installing the newest software will provide the most updated protection against hackers.
If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you may fear that you will never truly feel safe again. This is a valid feeling, but by utilizing these security features and smart tips, you may start to find the peace you need to move on with your life.