Leaving an Abusive Relationship: Ensuring Social Media Safety

Person struggling to navigate social media after leaving an abusive relationship

Social media has become an integral part of our lives, connecting us with friends, family, and people from all over the world. Consequently, for someone leaving an abusive relationship, social media can be a source of stress, anxiety, and even danger. Abusers can use social media to track and monitor their victims, and may even use it to harass or intimidate them. If you’re leaving an abusive relationship, it’s important to use social media safely. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and protect your privacy.

Change your passwords after leaving an abusive relationship

One of the first things that you should do when leaving an abusive relationship is to change all of your passwords. This includes the passwords for your social media accounts, as well as any other accounts that your abuser may have had access to, such as email, bank accounts, and other online platforms.

When choosing new passwords, it’s important to create strong, unique passwords that are difficult to guess. Avoid easy-to-guess passwords, such as your name or birth date, or any other personal information that your abuser may know. Instead, use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. You can also use a password manager to help you create and manage strong passwords.

In addition to changing your passwords, it’s also important to keep your passwords safe and secure. Don’t share your passwords with anyone, and don’t write them down in a place where someone else could find them.

Review your privacy settings

Reviewing and adjusting your privacy settings is a crucial step in using social media safely after leaving an abusive relationship.

Here are some things to consider when reviewing your privacy settings:

  • Review your current settings: Take a look at your current privacy settings on all of your social media accounts. Each platform has its own set of privacy settings, so make sure you’re familiar with how they work. Look for settings related to profile visibility, post visibility, and who can contact you.
  • Adjust your profile and post visibility: This can help prevent your abuser from being able to see your activities and whereabouts. On some platforms, you can also choose to hide your profile from search engines.
  • Adjust who can contact you: Review your settings for who can contact you on social media. Consider limiting who can send you friend requests, messages, or other types of communication..
  • Adjust your location settings: Many social media platforms have location-based features, such as check-ins or sharing your location with friends. Consider turning off these features, as sharing your location can make it easier for your abuser to track and monitor you.

Block your abuser after leaving an abusive relationship

Blocking your abuser on all of your social media accounts is an important step in using social media safely after leaving an abusive relationship. By blocking your abuser, you can prevent them from being able to contact you or see your activities online.

Here are some tips for blocking your abuser:

  • Block them on all social media platforms: This includes platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, as well as any other platforms that you may use for communication.
  • Report any abusive behaviour: If your abuser continues to harass or intimidate you on social media, report their behaviour to the platform’s support team. Most social media platforms have tools in place for reporting abusive behaviour, and they take these reports seriously.
  • Be cautious about accepting friend requests: Be cautious about accepting friend requests from people you don’t know, as your abuser may create fake profiles or use other tactics to try to gain access to your social media accounts.

Use two-factor authentication

Using two-factor authentication (2FA) is an important step in using social media safely after leaving an abusive relationship. 2FA adds an extra layer of security to your accounts, making it more difficult for someone to hack into them.

Here are some tips for using two-factor authentication:

  • Enable 2FA on all your accounts: Make sure to enable 2FA on all of your social media accounts. Most social media platforms have built-in 2FA options, so it’s generally easy to set up.
  • Use an authentication app: Consider using an app to authenticate your account rather than a text message or email-based 2FA. Authentication apps generate unique codes that you use to log into your accounts, therefore are more secure than other types of 2FA. Some popular authentication apps include Google Authenticator, Authy, and LastPass Authenticator. Make sure to keep your phone and authentication app secure. Use a strong, unique password to lock your phone, and make sure that your authentication app is protected by a strong password or PIN. Don’t leave your phone unattended, and don’t share your phone with anyone else.
  • Be prepared for emergencies: Make sure to have a backup plan in case you lose access to your phone or authentication app. Some 2FA options allow you to generate backup codes that you can use if you lose your phone or app. Make sure to keep these codes in a safe place, such as a secure password manager.

Talk to someone you trust

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or scared about using social media after leaving an abusive relationship, talk to someone you trust. This could be a friend, family member, or a trained professional such as a therapist or support worker. They can provide you with emotional support, and help you develop a safety plan for using social media.

Make sure to communicate openly and honestly with the person you trust. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, let them know. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or take a break from social media if you need to.

If you don’t have a support system available, helplines are available to provide assistance.

Avoid using location-based features

Many social media platforms have location-based features that allow you to check in or share your location with your friends. Although these features can be useful for staying connected with friends and family, on the other hand, they can also pose a risk for someone leaving an abusive relationship.

Here are some tips for avoiding location-based features:

  • Turn off location services: One of the easiest ways to avoid location-based features is to turn off location services on your phone or tablet. This will prevent social media platforms and other apps from being able to access your location information.
  • Avoid using check-in features: If you’re leaving an abusive relationship, it’s important to avoid using check-in features on social media. Checking in at a location can make it easier for your abuser to track your movements and whereabouts.
  • Be cautious about sharing photos: Be cautious about sharing photos that could give away your location. For example, if you’re taking a photo outside of your house, be careful not to show any identifying features of your home, (i.e. house number, street name).
  • Turn off location-based ads: Some social media platforms use location information to serve targeted ads. Consider turning off location-based ads to help protect your privacy.

Use a fake name or alias after leaving an abusive relationship

Consider using a fake name or alias when creating new social media accounts. Especially if you’re worried about your abuser finding you online. This will make it more difficult for them to locate you and can help protect your privacy. Just be sure to choose a name that’s not easily linked back to you.

Use a consistent name across all platforms. If you’re using a fake name or alias on social media, make sure to use the same name across all of your accounts. This will help prevent your abuser from being able to identify you online.

Don’t accept friend requests from strangers

Be cautious about accepting friend requests from people you don’t know, especially if you’re leaving an abusive relationship. Your abuser may create fake profiles or use other tactics to try to gain access to your social media accounts. If you’re not sure whether a friend request is legitimate, don’t accept it.

It’s okay to ask for identification if you receive a friend request from someone claiming to be a friend or acquaintance. If the person is genuine, they should be willing to share their identity with you.

Report any harassment or threats

If you experience any harassment or threats on social media, report them to the platform’s support team. Most social media platforms have tools in place for reporting abusive behaviour, and they take these reports seriously. Don’t hesitate to use these tools if you feel unsafe or threatened.

If you receive any threats of violence or other criminal behaviour on social media, consider involving law enforcement. They can help investigate the behaviour and provide you with additional protection and support.

Lastly, using social media safely after leaving an abusive relationship requires taking proactive steps which will help to protect your privacy and stay safe. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or scared, don’t hesitate to reach out for support from someone you trust, or from a trained professional.

Remember, you don’t have to face this alone.

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