Stay safe online when searching for advice on domestic abuse

Alert message sent 30/11/2020 12:03:00

Information sent on behalf of Derbyshire Constabulary

If you’re searching for advice online about domestic abuse, you may be afraid someone could find out. On day six of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence we’re sharing tips on how to cover your tracks.

Browsing online

If you can, the safest way is to use a device they can’t access. This is not always easy, so here are some things which can minimise the risk.

To leave a site quickly, most specialist advice pages will have a visible ‘exit’ or ‘hide’ button, which will bring up another site almost immediately. Look for that on the page.

Your browser will save information including words entered into search engines, images from pages you visit, and a history of the sites visited to your computer. Sometimes it may be synced to other devices that use the same logon details.

You can remove this information but there is a risk. For example, clearing cookies may mean that saved passwords are also deleted, and this could alert anyone else using your computer to the fact that cookies have been cleared. Clearing your history may also raise suspicion. Some developers have realised, and now provide an option to delete part of the history, or certain kinds of data- leaving things like saved passwords alone.

Private browsing

Most web browsers have a ‘private browsing’ mode that, if selected, will store nothing about your activity on your computer in that window. It won’t stop online services from seeing what you do, but it won’t leave any traces of your activity on your computer.
  • Internet Explorer: Go to Safety – Tools – InPrivate Browsing.
  • Firefox: Click the Menu button with three horizontal lines – New Private Window.
  • Chrome: Click the Menu button with three horizontal lines and select New Incognito Window.
  • Similar options can be found in Opera and Safari.
To check what is stored:

Internet Explorer
Click on Tools and select Internet Options. On the General page, under Temporary Internet Files, click on Delete Cookies and then OK. Click on Delete Files, tick the box labelled Delete all offline content and click OK. Under History, click on Clear History and then OK. Now look at the top of the window and click on the Content tab, select AutoComplete and finally, Clear Forms.

Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy. Click on the Clear button next to Cache and Saved Form Information.

Deleting your history

To delete history for Internet Explorer and Firefox hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard, then press the H key (Ctrl, Alt and H for Opera). Find any entries you want to delete, then right click and choose Delete.

Toolbars such as Google, AOL and Yahoo keep a record of the words you have typed into the toolbar search box. To erase these you will need to check the individual instructions for each type of toolbar. For example, for the Google toolbar all you need to do is click on the Google icon, and choose ‘Clear Search History’.

Remember, feeling like you have to cover your tracks because of the risk of abuse is not right. You are not alone and help and support is available.

If you are a victim of abuse or if you have concerns about someone you can report it online here, or by calling 101. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our textphone service on 18001 101.

On social media, you can also contact us through Facebook, send us a private message to or direct message our contact centre on Twitter, @DerPolContact.

In an emergency which is ongoing, or where life is in danger, call 999 immediately. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our textphone service 18000 or text us on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service. The Silent Solution can help you if speaking could put you or someone else in danger.

There are also partner support services local to Derbyshire who can help you. You can find their details on our website here:
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