It is not often that we cover subject matter in a computer security blog that require a “trigger warning”, but today is one of those days. The following blog deals with potentially difficult information regarding protecting people who have been the victims of domestic abuse or stalking that could trigger an extreme reaction in people who’ve been traumatized by similar experiences.
Domestic violence is not something that gets discussed much in information security circles, for a variety of possible reasons, but there are few people that need advice on assuring their online safety more urgently than victims of stalking and domestic abuse. How exactly do the particular information security needs of people in these situations differ from the norm? What can people do to protect themselves when there is a known and persistent threat? After looking into this, I am left with as many questions as answers.
Before we get into the meat of this article, let me provide a frame of reference: I will be focusing on those victims of domestic abuse and stalking that have escaped the situation, and are now looking to avoid further contact with their abusers. The subtleties of getting protection while still in the environment in which domestic abuse is taking place go more into the realm of psychology than simple computer security concerns. And because there is so much more to be explored on this particular subject, think of this article less as something prescriptive, and more of an open-ended discussion. If you have experience on this subject, I welcome you to add your voice to the comments to help educate me as well as other readers.