Sexual violence & online safety

The internet makes it very easy for people to quickly connect with others and find out and send very personal information. But it also allows people to hide who they really are and what they are doing. Some people use the internet to harm others. This could be someone they know or a stranger.

Any form of sexual contact which someone does not agree to is sexual violence. Anyone who does not respect another’s privacy, who will not leave them alone, who posts embarrassing or threatening statements about them, or ‘shares’ photos online without their permission is being abusive.

The person who commits sexual violence and abuse is always responsible for it. Even if you know that you have taken risks or done something that made you vulnerable, this does not mean that you caused or invited the abuse to happen.

Further information to help you stay safe online can be found below:

Cover your tracks

Computers store a lot of information about the websites you visit, emails and instant messages you send, web-based phone calls you make, online purchases and banking, and many other activities.

If you are worried that someone might check what you are looking at or doing on this computer, be aware when using this computer when seeking support and information and if possible use a computer in a library, at a trusted friend’s house or an internet café.

Keep using your computer for your routine activities, such as looking up the weather or checking what’s on TV.

Clearing your web browser’s history

You can clear some evidence of sites you have visited (and any searches you have done) by clearing your web browser’s history.

However, this won’t remove all records from your computer’s memory and someone in your home would not have to be a computer expert to find the remaining records.

Remember

If clearing your browser’s history isn’t something you do regularly, DON’T do it, as this might arouse suspicion.

How to clear your browser history

  • Microsoft Edge (Windows 10): Click on Setting menu (3 dots) and select Settings. Under ‘Clear Browsing Data’ select ‘Choose what to clear’ and tick what you would like to clear. (Edge also has a private window option which you can use to browse and then close when you are finished. To use this, click on Settings menu and select ‘New InPrivate Window’ then browse to the website you want to view. When you use InPrivate tabs, your browsing data (such as cookies, history or temporary files) isn’t saved on your device after you’ve finished. Microsoft Edge deletes temporary data from your devices after all your InPrivate tabs have been closed.)
  • Internet Explorer (PC): Pull down the Tools menu and select Internet Options. Click on the 'Delete Files' and 'Clear History' buttons on the general page.
  • Google Chrome (PC and mobile device): Click on customise menu (3 dots), pull down the History menu and click History. This can show your history across all devices using Chrome. Click ‘Clear browsing history’ and tick what you would like to clear, for what time period of browsing, i.e. in the past hour. (Chrome also has a Private browsing option. Select customise menu then click ‘New Incognito Window’. Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity. However, downloads and bookmarks will be saved. Close the window when you have finished browsing.)
  • Firefox (PC and Mac): Pull down Tools menu and select ‘Clear Private Data’. Tick ‘Browsing History’, ‘Download History’, ‘Saved Form and Search History’, ‘Cache’ and ‘Authenticated Sessions’, then click on ‘Clear Private Data Now’.
  • Safari (Mac and PC): Pull down the Safari menu, select 'Reset Safari', click on 'Reset'. (Safari also has a 'Private Browsing' option which you can choose before you browse and turn off afterwards. To use this, pull down the Safari menu, select 'Private Browsing', and click OK when you see a confirmation message. To turn private browsing off, choose it from the menu again, and close any windows you’ve used to view private information.)