Blocking messages from online abusers -- and even changing your
identity to get away from them -- may work fine against someone on the
other side of the world. But what if the abuser is your close partner?
When you learn that your privacy has been compromised, the common
advice is to prevent additional access—delete your insecure
account, open a new one, change your password. But in abusive
romantic relationships, disconnection can be extremely fraught. For
one, it can put the victim at risk of physical harm: If abusers
expect digital access and that access is suddenly closed off, it
can lead them to become more violent or intrusive in other ways. It
may seem cathartic to delete abusive material, like alarming text
messages—but if you don’t preserve that kind of evidence, it can
make prosecution more difficult. And closing some kinds of
accounts, like social networks, to hide from a determined abuser
can cut off social support that survivors desperately need.
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