Tips for safe internet/computer use
The internet is a great resource for all kinds of information, but if you are the victim of abuse by a spouse or other person, your internet usage could be used against you, especially if you’re looking for help or support. Use the information below to help keep yourself safe when online.
- Computers can store a lot of private information about what you look at via the Internet, the emails and instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities.
- You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer and Internet activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.
- Spyware has become more sophisticated, so it’s often difficult to tell if it’s installed on a computer. You should be suspicious if your abuser has knowledge of your private online conversations or unexpectedly shows up at a location where you planned to be.
- If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use your computer since an abuser might become suspicious. Do not delete the spyware as it will tip-off the abuser that you aware of his reviewing your activities which could put you in danger. Also, the spyware may be useful as evidence of abuse in court.
- You may clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser’s settings (see directions below).*But, it is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to suddenly change your computer behaviors such as deleting your entire Internet history if that is not your regular habit.
- You may want to keep using the monitored computer for innocuous activities, like looking up the weather and use a safer computer (work, library, Cyber Café, etc.) to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or apartments, shelters, bus tickets, or ask for help.
- Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. The Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas operates a 24-hour crisis line at (866) 358-2265 or (501) 329-CALL.
- If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about. If you believe your account is secure, please make sure you use a password the abuser will not be able to guess. If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing email messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse. Additionally, the messages may constitute a federal offense. For more information on this issue, contact your local United States Attorney’s Office.
- It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.
*You may clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser’s settings.
*This information may not completely hide your tracks. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites. The safest way to find information on the Internet would be at a local library, a friend’s house, or at work.
Internet Explorer: Pull down Tools menu, select Internet Options. On General page, under Temporary Internet Files, click on “Delete Files.” Under History click on “Clear History.”
History / Cache file: If an abuser knows how to read your computer’s history or cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics), they may be able to see information you have viewed recently on the internet.
Netscape: Pull down Edit menu, select Preferences. Click on Navigator on choose ‘Clear History.’ Click on Advanced, then select Cache. Click on “Clear Disk Cache.” On older versions of Netscape: Pull down Options menu. Select Network Options, Select Cache. Click on “Clear Disk Cache.”
AOL: Pull down Members menu, select Preferences. Click on WWW icon. Then select Advanced. Purge Cache.
Firefox: Pull down Tools menu, select “Clear Private Data…”
Signs of a Batterer:
Think you might be involved with a batterer? Here are some signs to look for:
- Extreme jealousy
- Controlling attitude
- Low self-esteem
- Unpredictable mood swings
- Alcohol and drug use
- Explosive anger
- Quick involvement
- Isolates you from friends and family
- Abused former partners
- Threatens violence
- Uses force during an argument
Why do women stay?
Why do women stay? Why don’t they leave?
The information below is adapted from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
It’s not uncommon to hear “Why do women stay in abusive relationships?” or “Why don’t they leave?” These types of questions, although common, have a tendency — whether unintentional or not — to blame victims and to suggest they enjoy or thrive on being abused. If they didn’t enjoy being ill treated, they would leave, right? Obviously, if they choose to stay, they must have low self-esteem, right?
No. These attitudes are common myths about victims of domestic violence. The fact is that reasons for staying are far more complex than a blanket statement about a victim’s character or strength of will. In some cases, women may seem to “want” to be beaten. For those who come from dysfunctional families — families in which they were routinely beaten and emotionally abused as children — they know no other patterns of behavior and have learned to expect frequent incidents of violence. For such women, the anxiety of waiting for the next outburst of violence is often more stressful and agonizing than the violence itself. They hate not knowing when they will next be hit, kicked, punched, burned, bitten, or stabbed, and they would rather “get it over with” than not know when they will next be abused.
Often, it is dangerous for a woman to leave an abusive relationship. If her abuser is economically abusive (see The Types of Abuse) and withholds all family money from her, leaving can lead to additional hardships. Leaving could mean living in fear of being stalked, fear of losing custody of any minor children (parental abduction is not uncommon), losing financial support, and experiencing harassment at work. Do not underestimate the effects of domestic violence on its victims. Abused women experience i solation, shame, embarrassment, and humiliation. Women may not immediately leave an abusive relationship because:
- They fear their abusers will become more violent — perhaps fatal — stalking them if they leave.
- Friends and family may not support their decision to leave.
- They fear being a single parent with little money.
- There are periods of calm; nurturing and love between incidents of violence (see The Cycle of Abuse).
- They may be unaware of sources of advocacy and support.
- They may be unaware of shelters and other resources that offer safety and support.
The reasons women stay in abusive relationships typically fall into three categories.
Lack of resources
- Most abused women have at least one minor child.
- Many abused women are not employed outside the home.
- Many abused women don’t have property that is solely theirs.
- In many cases, abusers have cut off access to cash or bank accounts.
- Most abused women fear losing joint assets and custody of their children.
- Abused women fear a lower standard of living for themselves and their children.
Responses by services and authorities (See How Professionals Can Respond)
- Often, clergy and social workers are trained to “save the family” rather than to stop violence.
- Police often treat incidents of domestic violence as mere “disputes” rather than as serious crimes in which one person is physically assaulting another.
- Police may try to discourage women from pressing criminal charges.
- Attorneys are often reluctant to prosecute cases. Justices rarely assign the maximum sentence or fine possible.
- Restraining orders and peace bonds (see Stalking) do little to prevent abusers from repeating their violent patterns of behavior. Sadly, there are too few shelters to keep women safe.
- Many women don’t view divorce as a viable alternative.
- Many abused women don’t accept the notion of single parenting. They believe a bad father (or in the case of a lesbian relationship, a bad partner) is better than none at all.
- Many women are conditioned to believe they are responsible for making their marriage or relationship work; that if the relationship fails, they have failed as women. Society has often taught these women that their worth is measured by their ability to get and keep a man.
- Many abused women feel isolated from their families and from society. Isolation is either the result of the abuser’s possessiveness or jealousy, or it may be an attempt on the part of the victim to hide signs of abuse from the outside world. Either way, such isolation leads many victims to feel they have nowhere to turn.
- Many victims externalize or rationalize the reasons for their abuser’s behavior, casting blame of circumstances such as stress, financial hardship, job stress, chemical dependency, etc.
- Between violent episodes, there are periods of calm during which the abuser is charming, nurturing, and caring. Those traits, which initially attracted him/her to his /her victim, resurface and the victim sees her abuser as a loving person, thereby reinforcing her decision to stay. (See The Cycle of Abuse.)
We offer educational presentations to schools, clubs, organizations, etc. Here are the current topics we cover, however, if you have a specific idea or topic and would like us to come speak, please contact us and we will work something out.
- Healthy Dating
- Domestic Violence
- Sexual Assault
Sexual Assault Crisis Response Program
If you or someone you know have been Sexually Assaulted or Raped, please contact us at our 24 hr Crisis Response Hotline: 866-358-2265
We care and would like to help YOU!
The Department of Finance Administration requested The Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas start a Sexual Assault program due to the high demand for one in Conway. In December of 2005, The Sexual Assault Crisis Response became a division of The Women’s Shelter. We have trained Crisis Advocates to help support our community. The Sexual Assault Program Director is Kate Vincent. Our office is located at 505 Amity Rd. Office 608 in Conway.
Why do I need a Sexual Assault Advocate? They can:
- Inform you of your rights as a sexual assault survivor.
- Provide emotional support.
- Assist you in making decisions about Personal safety planning. Obtaining medical attention. Reporting the incident to police. Getting other, urgent personal needs met.
- Meet you at the Hospital for support and advocacy during the Medical Forensic Exam.
- Meet you at the Police Station for support and advocacy when you report the incident.
We make sure that you understand your options so you can make decisions that are right for you. We’re your voice when you can’t speak. We have your best interests at heart. If you need help or would just like to talk, please call us. 866-358-2265 We care and we’re here for YOU!
Services we provide:
Trained Advocates available 24-hours to help victims and survivors of sexual assault. The Crisis Hotline provides:
- Crisis intervention by phone through the 24-hour confidential crisis hotline for survivors dealing with the aftermath of an assault.
- Sensitive, supportive care for victims of sexual assault in immediate crisis. Crisis services are also provided to friends or family who accompany victims seeking medical care.
- General referral information for area medical, legal, and counseling services.
Short-Term Respite: One to three days shelter is provided at The Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas for victims in immediate crisis who are unable to return safely to their homes.
Short-term Crisis Counseling: Individual crisis counseling sessions for Sexual Assault survivors are available with trained crisis intervention advocates.
Sexual Assault/Rape Support Groups: A facilitator-led support group is available to adult women who were sexually abused as children or sexually assaulted as adults.
Date/Time: Every Wed. 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Location: 505 Amity Rd. Office 608 Conway, Arkansas 72032
For more information regarding Support Groups, please contact the Executive Office at 501-358-6217