Domestic abuse

Covering your tracks online

Using your computer safely

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 your computer, don't use it to get help and advice. Instead, use a computer in a library, at a trusted friend's house or an internet cafe.

You can clear some evidence of sites you have visited (and any searches you have done) but clearning 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

Internet Explorer

  • rull down View menu (in the row at the top of the browser), select Internet Options
  • you should now be on a tab that says 'General'- if not, select 'General'
  • under the title 'Temporary Internet Files', click on 'Delete Files' and 'Delete Cookies'
  • you can also check the box that says delete all offline content
  • then under History, click on 'Clear History.' For 'Days to keep in history' set this to zero and for 'Settings' under amount of disc space, set this to one
  • click OK at the bottom

If you do not find these options under the View Menu, they can be found under the Tools Menu.


  • pull down Edit menu, select Preferences
  • click on Navigator (this may be a tab at the top or an option in a list on the left)
  • click on 'Clear History'
  • then click on Advanced (this may be a tab or an option in a list on the left, if it's in a list, click on the + sign)
  • 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".

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
  • click on 'Clear Private Data Now'


  • pull down Members menu, select Preferences
  • click on WWW icon
  • select Advanced, and click 'Purge Cache'

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.


If an abuser has access to your email account, they may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. If you believe your account is secure, make sure you choose a password that an 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. The messages may constitute an offence.