If you are worried about someone knowing you have been on this website, please read the following safety information for advice about keeping your visits private.
How can an abuser discover your internet activities?
The information included here is for guidance only, and may not completely cover your tracks, particularly if an abuser is technologically knowledgeable. For increased security, it is best to visit the site on a device your abuser cannot access such as a library or friend’s computer.
Whenever you visit a website, such as Reducing the Risk, it leaves a record on the device you accessed it through. This may be ‘cookies’ to help the website remember you, a record of the visit in internet or search history, any saved usernames and passwords, and data from the website to help it load faster the next time you visit. Someone with access to your mobile, laptop, computer or tablet will be able to find this information unless it’s been manually deleted.
It is possible to remove this information from your computer/device to cover your tracks but that does carry a risk. For example, clearing cookies may mean previously saved passwords are no longer saved, which may alert anyone else using your device that cookies have been cleared, and clearing your history may raise suspicion – however, some browsers have the option to delete data from within a certain time frame (such as the last hour) or to delete specific types of data whilst leaving others (like saved passwords).
Be mindful that if your devices are synced using the same login details, information may be traceable and someone with access to a different device may be able to see what you have been doing online.
Top tips for staying safe online
- Use private browsing or incognito mode in your browser
- Delete your cookies and internet history (potentially from within a specific time frame)
- If you’re worried that someone will find out, ask someone you trust to use their device
Exit site button
The purple ‘Quick exit’ button on the Reducing the Risk website will allow you to navigate away from our site immediately. Clicking on the button will take you to Google in a new tab and load the BBC Weather homepage in this existing tab. We recommend testing out the ‘Quick exit’ button for yourself when you first visit our site so that you are familiar with how it works.
While this button will enable you to quickly exit and hide the page, you will still need to delete your browsing history to fully cover your tracks. Read on below to find out how you can do this across different web browsers.
The best option is to use private browsing. When using private browsing, your browser will store information only temporarily and once you close the private browsing window, it will be deleted, leaving no trace on your device. Most Internet browsers have a private browsing option. Check which browser you are using by clicking ‘Help’ on the toolbar at the top of your screen which should display something with the name of the browser.
How to use private browsing for the following browsers:
- Microsoft Internet Explorer: Click “Safety” in the top right-hand corner and select “InPrivate Browsing”.
- Microsoft Edge: Click the three dots in the top right-hand corner and select “New InPrivate window”.
- Mozilla Firefox: Click the Menu button with three horizontal lines and select “New Private Window”.
- Google Chrome: Click the three horizontal dots in the top right-hand corner and select “New Incognito Window”.
- Safari: Click “File” in the top left-hand corner and select “New Private Window”.
If you are accessing the Internet from a smartphone, there are private browsing options for Android and for iPhone. You can read about this here.
Remember to close the private browsing window when you are done so that the temporary files and information will be deleted.
How to delete browsing data and internet history
Managed by the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Tech Safety has a step by step visual guide for using private browsing, preventing tracking, deleting browsing history and additional privacy settings which you can read here.
Any emails you have sent will be stored in your sent items folder; you can delete emails you don’t want anyone else to see from this folder. If you started an email but didn’t finish it, it might be in your Drafts folder, and you can delete these too. Most email programs don’t immediately delete emails when you hit delete, but rather move them to a folder called Deleted Items/Bin/Trash and you’ll need to delete the items from that folder to remove them completely.
If there’s a risk that your abuser may know how to access your emails, it’s a good idea to set up a new private email account. Use a provider you can access from anywhere, and use a name that is not recognisable as you — something like email@example.com. Keep this email address secret.
The National Cyber Security Alliance’s website, Stay Safe Online, has information on protecting yourself, your family and your devices. Facebook have specific information and guidance on safety for victims/survivors of DA and have a supporting statement you can view here. Women’s Aid has further information about staying safe online, including location tracking and on social media. Read more here.
Comparitech has also produced a guide on cyberstalking and digital domestic abuse, covering the law, how to report cases and practical steps people can take to protect themselves, which you can read here.