Cover your tracks online

If you are in an abusive relationship and worried about your internet safety the best option is to avoid using a personal computer in the home – if possible use a friend’s computer or a computer at your local library or Internet Cafe.  If you are using a computer that your perpetrator has access to, please take a few minutes to read the warning below regarding covering your tracks when using the internet and the LWA’s website.

If an abuser knows how to read your computer’s history or cache file (automatically saved pages and graphics), they may be able to see information you have viewed recently on the internet. One way you can protect yourself is to clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser’s settings.  How you do that depends on which browser you are using and the details for the main browsers are detailed below. If you are unsure what browser you are using, simply follow this link and it will advise the browser currently in use: http://www.whatbrowser.org/en/


Internet Explorer

To browse safely on Internet Explorer:

  • Open the browser page
  • Select the ‘safety’ option
  • Click on ‘in private browsing’ to browse in a hidden and safe way
  • Or select ‘delete browser history’ and check all the information you wish to delete – to hide your online movement from an abuser


Google Chrome

To browse safely on Google Chrome you can automatically delete cookies which you have downloaded. This means no downloaded files will be saved. To do this:

  • Select the spanner icon in the top right hand corner of the page
  • Select the ‘new incognito page’ option
  • You can now browse the internet in a safe and undetectable manner
  • To delete history press ctrl and h then edit items, from here you can delete all history or select pages to delete



If you are a Safari user it is also possible to browse the web safely and discreetly.

  • Select the cog icon in the top right hand corner of the page
  • Scroll down until you see ‘private browsing’
  • Select the feature to make sure you are hiding where you have been and what you have done, from an abuser
  • You can also select the ‘history’ option and delete any pages you have viewed in the past from your abuser



If you use Mozilla Firefox it’s also possible for you to browse privately and safely.

  • Select the ‘tools’ option in the top left hand corner of the page
  • Scroll down to ‘start private browsing’ and select this option
  • If you want to do this quickly, simply open the internet browser and hold down ctrl + shift + P.
  • If you want to delete you browser history, do the same but select ‘clear recent history’ directly under ‘start private browsing’.
  • Alternatively hold down ctrl + shift + delete to quickly delete your history.



  • Pull down Members menu
  • Select Preferences
  • Click on www icon
  • Select Advanced
  • Purge Cache



  • Pull down the Edit menu
  • Select Preferences
  • Click on Navigator
  • Choose Clear History
  • Click on Advanced then select Cache
  • Click on Clear Disk Cache


On older versions of Netscape

  • Pull down the Options menu
  • Select Network Options
  • Select Cache
  • Click on Clear Disk Cache


Many browsers are set up to remember form entries, which could be a problem if you are a victim of abuse. For example, if someone searches for ‘domestic abuse’ on a search engine this entry is remembered by the browser. The next time somebody performs a search for a word beginning with the letter ‘d’ in that search engine, the words ‘domestic abuse’ will pop up as a suggested entry.

  • In Internet Explorer –
    • Go to Tools menu at the top
    • Select Internet Options
    • Select Content
    • Select Auto Complete
    • Select Clear Forms.

Additionally, make sure that the Use Online Autocomplete is NOT checked. This function, if left on, will complete a partial web address while typing a location in the address bar at the top of the browser.  

  • In Internet Explorer –
    • Go to the Tools menu at the top
    • Select Internet Options
    • Select the Advanced tab
    • About halfway down there is a Use Autocomplete box that can be unchecked.

Technology can be a great way for victims of abuse to gain information, advice and build supportive social networks. Unfortunately it can also be misused by perpetrators to extend their abusive behaviour.
It is essential that victims of abuse take steps to protect themselves and their children when online.

This information can help you to cover your tracks when using the internet but for additional advice on safe use on technology please see our SAFE USE OF TECHNOLOGY section.