If the abuser knows the victim's personal e-mail address, simply blocking their e-mail account from contacting the victim is a good first step, but it is not likely to be enough. The abuser can constantly create new accounts to contact the victim.
Creating one or more new e-mail accounts:
- Create one e-mail account for your most trusted contacts.
- Create another account for when you register on websites.
- Create a third e-mail account for financial transactions e.g. online banking.
- Lastly, create one account for contacts that you and the abuser both know - they may give your new e-mail to the abuser.
Having multiple accounts is safer because if your abuser gets hold of one, the others remain safe. Managing multiple e-mail accounts does not need to be difficult. In most e-mail services' settings there are options to import e-mail from other accounts, even if they are from other service providers. For example, you may have a Hotmail account, a Yahoo! account, and an AOL account. By importing all your accounts into one service, you can easily manage them all from one spot.
Stay anonymous when creating new e-mail accounts
Unless an e-mail account is related to your professional life where you need to use your name, make your e-mail names anonymous so they do not identify you - not by name, birth date, age, location, ethnicity, work descriptor (like teacher, dancer) or other characteristic. It is also advisable not to create an e-mail name that is sexually suggestive, or expresses emotion.
Once you've created the new e-mail accounts, check to be sure the service doesn't expose your real name as well. To find out if your e-mail service displays your real name, send yourself an e-mail and check to see if your real name is displayed alongside your e-mail name in the sender field. Real names are displayed by default on e-mails you send from many of the major e-mail services. In the example below, you'll see how a woman who chose 'ann_s' as her e-mail name, also had her full name - Ann White - exposed.
NOTE: Other e-mail services have their own procedures for changing the display of your name in sent messages. If your e-mail service displays your name and you can't find how to hide this, e-mail your provider or search online for the proper procedure. If the provider doesn't allow you to hide your real name, use a different service.
Many sites ask you to answer a 'password hint' or 'security' question from a drop-down list. Unfortunately, many of the questions ask for answers that can be found in publicly available information such as your place of birth, a school you attended, or your mother's maiden name. In cases of domestic violence, chances are that your abuser will not only know these answers, but also know the correct answers to questions like the name of a favourite pet, your best friend in primary school, etc.
Answering any of these questions correctly could allow your abuser to get into, and take over, your account.
If none of the security questions allow you to give an answer that others couldn't discover, use a fake answer - just remember it! The service doesn't know if your answer is correct, it verifies only that you can repeat the answer you gave before. For example, what is your mother's maiden name? Purple Butterfly. Your first car? Green Butterfly. The city you were born in? Yellow Butterfly.