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Advice for Family & Friends

Advice for Family & Friends

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If someone you know is experiencing technology-facilitated stalking, harassment or is worried about technology being used abusively, there are things you can do to support them.

It is important that you believe what they say, take their concerns seriously and respond supportively. Respect the person’s agency and knowledge of the dynamics of the situation.

People who are behaving abusively will often deny or downplay the seriousness of the abuse. They may pretend it is romantic, care-based or innocuous, and blame the person experiencing the abuse or claim that they are overstating or misinterpreting it. 

In some cases, people experiencing technology-facilitated abuse are told to ‘simply’ change their phone numbers, close their Facebook accounts and stop using social media. These steps may help to limit the abuser’s access, but they can also increase feelings of isolation and limit important and useful contact with support networks.

In some high risk circumstances, it may be safer to temporarily stop using Facebook, for example. However, it is also important to recognise the role that technology can play in keeping us connected to family, friends and community, and to be supportive if the person wants to keep using technology. 

Ask the person what support would be useful, and check in with them about how they are feeling and what they need. If their electronic correspondence is being monitored or read by someone else, be mindful of any messages and information you send to them and be careful with their information. They may prefer to communicate in person.

You may be able to help with gathering information to assist them in making informed decisions about their use of technology and privacy settings, any action they want to take, as well as details of any support services that might be useful.

If they wish to limit or prevent the abusive person accessing information about them online, and you are connected with them on social media, such as Facebook, you can help by doing this:

  • do not upload images and details about their life and movements
  • avoid tagging them at events, locations or in images, and
  • secure your own privacy settings to limit the visibility of your own posts and timeline.

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