Staying safe online

To leave this website quickly, click the ‘Go’ button. This will open a new window and redirect the current page. If you are in immediate danger, call 999.


Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. It is defined as any incident or pattern of controlling, coercive, threatening, physical violence, threatening behaviour or abusive behaviour between intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

We run two domestic abuse services in Devon, providing support, advice and protection from domestic abuse, for men, women and children:

Our services empower people to live safely and free from fear or harm. Don’t suffer in silence – we are here for you.

Woman holding her head in her hands looking distressed

Hand holding a heart in front of some light

We support LGBT+ people who have experienced abuse and violence.

Domestic abuse can take different forms, including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Gaslighting / emotional abuse
  • Digital / online abuse
  • Honour-based violence
  • Forced marriage
  • Female genital mutilation (FGM)

What to do if you need help

In an emergency always call 999. If you are not in immediate danger but would like to talk to someone about something you or someone you know is experiencing, please contact one of the following services who can offer you information and advice:

You can also contact 101, or call Sanctuary for confidential help and advice on 0800 131 3348 (free from landlines) or 0300 123 3511 (free from mobiles). 

Disclaimer: Sanctuary Supported Living has no official partnership arrangement with these organisations.

Staying safe online

If you are concerned about an abuser monitoring or discovering your browsing history, the following tips will help you erase your browsing history.

The green "Go"  button at the bottom of this page along with our TDAS and PDAS service pages will quickly take you to the BBC News homepage – but you will need to delete your browsing history afterwards.

Browsing privately

An effective way to cover your tracks is view websites in a private browsing window which will not appear in your browser’s history, web cache or cookies. Online services may still be able to monitor your activity (and use it to, for example, provide personalised ads) but it won’t leave a trace on your computer.

If you do this, always check that you’re in a private browsing window before visiting a site. Check below to find instructions for your browser.

Click on the round cog at the top right of the window, then go to Safety -> Tools - > InPrivate Browsing.

Click on the three horizontal lines at the top right of the window, then click on ‘New Private Window’.

Click on the three dots at the top right of the window, then click on ‘New Incognito Window’.

On a Mac: Click File -> ‘New Private Window’.

On an iPhone/iPad: Click the two squares at the bottom (iPhone) or top (iPad) of the window, then look for the ‘Private’ button.

A representative image of domestic abuse.

Deleting your browsing history

To find your browsing history, click hold Ctrl and press H – or Ctrl+Alt+H for Opera. Find any entries you want to remove, right-click on them and choose ‘Delete’. This won’t affect logins so if you have accounts set up on any websites (e.g. Facebook, Amazon), remember to log out of any you don’t want the abuser to know about.

If you have any search engine toolbars installed in the browser itself (i.e. they’re always there, regardless of the website), check they haven’t recorded your searches. They will have their own methods of deleting their search history that you can look up.


Threatening or harassing emails from your abuser can be saved and/or printed as evidence of abuse. Emails you’ve written will be stored in the Sent/Outbox folders (or Drafts if unfinished).

If you don’t want anyone to see an email on your computer, print a copy if needed and then delete it. Reply emails will usually have the original email attached to them, whether on your computer or printed out.

Remember to also delete anything you don’t want from Deleted Items, if you’re using a dedicated email program such as Outlook or Thunderbird.

Browse safely

One alternative to Private Browsing is to use other computers e.g. a friend’s laptop or a computer at your local library to avoid leaving a trace on one of your own devices. Even deleting your Internet history won’t necessarily remove all traces of activity and this is one way around that.

Don’t neglect internet security though – sensitive data such as online banking is best handled on your own device.

A woman in distress

PDAS Case Study: Anne

Anne* has been staying at SSL's Plymouth Refuge for nearly two months after escaping from the house she shared with her ex-partner.

Read Anne's story

Image representation of Claire's story

TDAS Case Study: Claire

Claire* severed contact with her family, including her adult children and grandchildren, in order to escape the abuse she was enduring at home.

Read Claire's story

Latest news from our Domestic Abuse services


Sanctuary Supported Living is a trading name used within Sanctuary Group. © 2022 Sanctuary Group. All Rights Reserved. Images used on our website and literature may be representative and are for illustration purposes only.
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