Social Media

Online services and social media should be open and safe for everyone to use, however we know that perpetrators of domestic abuse often use online tools to abuse their victims.

Below is information about the safety policies and processes on some of the main social media platforms that should help you stay safe online.

Twitter

Facebook

You can find more tips for how to delete cookies and conceal your browsing history in the section Covering your tracks below.

Covering your tracks

Warning: if you're worried about someone knowing you have visited this website please read the following safety information.

Please note, the information below is for guidance only and may not completely cover your tracks.  If you want to be completely sure of not being tracked online, the safest way would be to access the internet at a local library, an internet cafe, school/college, friend's house or at work.

Covering your tracks

Staying at home

Staying Safe In Your Home

Making a safety plan

A personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself and your children. It helps you plan in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave.

You can’t stop your partner’s violence and abuse – only he can do that. But there are things you can do to increase your own and your children’s safety. You’re probably already doing some things to protect yourself and your children – for example, there may be a pattern to the violence which may enable you to plan ahead to increase your safety.

  • Plan in advance how you might respond in different situations, including crisis situations.
  • Think about the different options that may be available to you.
  • Keep with you any important and emergency telephone numbers (Essex Compass 0303 333 7444 (24hr helpline); the police domestic violence unit; your GP; your social worker, if you have one; your children’s school; your solicitor; and the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge: 0808 2000 247).
  • Teach your children to call 999 in an emergency, and what they would need to say (for example, their full name, address and telephone number).
  • Are there neighbours you could trust, and where you could go in an emergency? If so, tell them what is going on, and ask them to call the police if they hear sounds of a violent attack.
  • Rehearse an escape plan, so in an emergency you and the children can get away safely.
  • Pack an emergency bag for yourself and your children, and hide it somewhere safe (for example, at a neighbour’s or friend’s house). Try to avoid mutual friends or family. See the suggestions below on What to pack if you are planning to leave your partner.
  • Try to keep a small amount of money on you at all times – including change for the phone and for bus fares.
  • Know where the nearest phone is, and if you have a mobile phone, try to keep it with you.
  • If you suspect that your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower risk area of the house – for example where there is a way out and access to a telephone.  Avoid the kitchen or garage where there are likely to be knives or other weapons; and avoid rooms where you might be trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.
  • Be prepared to leave the house in an emergency.

If your ex-partner continues the abuse

If your ex-partner continues to harass, threaten or abuse you, make sure you keep detailed records of each incident, including the date and time it occurred, what was said or done, and, if possible, photographs of damage to your property or injuries to yourself or others.

If your partner or ex-partner injures you, see your GP or go to hospital for treatment and ask them to document your visit.

If you have an injunction with a power of arrest, or there is a restraining order in place, you should ask the police to enforce this; and if your ex-partner is in breach of any court order, you should also tell your solicitor.

See Getting an injunction and the Police and the criminal prosecution process for further information on legal options.

In an emergency, always call the police on 999

Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme - known as Clare's Law - is intended to provide information that could protect someone from being a victim of attack.

The initiative is named after 36-year-old Clare Wood who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, George Appleton, in 2009.  Unbeknown to her, he had a history of violence to women.  He later became known as the ‘Facebook Killer’ as he prowled the social network site in search of partners.

Clare had told her father George had a criminal record, though only for motoring offences. In fact he had been jailed for three years in 2002 for harassing another woman and for six months the previous year after breaching a restraining order on another ex-girlfriend. Clare’s father is convinced she would still be alive had she known the full extent of George’s previous behaviour.

Right to Ask: For the public

Clare’s Law will give some help to those people who think they have a partner who may be acting in a certain way which suggests that they are somebody who is violent. It enables that individual to then go to the police and they’ve got the right to ask for information about that partner. In some circumstances, it has now been extended to apply to ex-partners as well. This enables somebody to know whether their partner has a record of violence, and to be able to take a decision as to whether to stay with them or not. If they have already separated from their partner, it may also help with decisions to safeguard themselves and their family.

Absolutely anyone can apply for a disclosure using Clare’s Law – so if someone is worried about their own relationship, or someone else’s, they can make a request for information to find out if there is a risk of abuse.

How to contact Essex Police about domestic abuse:

  • 999 – if there is immediate risk to life
  • Police stations – come into any police station in Essex and you will be able to talk to someone
  • 101 – the non-emergency phone number. Call this to ask for advice and begin the application for a disclosure
  • Officers or PCSOs on the street – each knows what advice to give you and how to start the application process for disclosure

Clare's Law leaflet

Resources and information

Virtual World Real Fear

Women’s Aid report into online abuse, harassment and stalking (2014)

Virtual World Real Fear Report

A4 Digital Stalking Poster

A4 Digital Stalking Poster

Staying safe online – Easy and Practical Help

Digital Stalking leaflet

Digital Stalking Leaflet

Digital stalking: A guide to technology risks for victims
Jennifer Perry (2012)

Digital Stalking Guide PDF