Safety and Privacy on Facebook: A Guide for Survivors of Abuse

This week is the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s inaugural Technology Summit conference, where several staff from Facebook are joining to share their expertise and brainstorm how we can all better support survivors of abuse. In addition, we have teamed up with Facebook to produce an informative guide on privacy and safety for survivors. We are excited about this publication since we know how important it is to survivors to remain connected, both offline and online, to family and friends, while also maintaining their privacy and safety. 

Since joining Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board in 2010, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) has embraced its partnership with Facebook to consistently support the needs of victims of domestic violence, dating abuse, cyber-stalking and teen dating violence.

Privacy and safety go hand in hand for survivors. The most dangerous time for a victim of abuse is when they are preparing to leave or have left an abusive partner. It’s at this time that there is an increased likelihood of an escalation in violence and risk for lethality. It is critical that survivors have the information that they need to navigate their lives safely and, in today’s digital age, a significant part of our lives are online. 

We believe that survivors have the right to experience and live online (and offline) safely. We sometimes hear that survivors should just “get offline” if they are concerned about an abuser finding them or contacting them. This is not a solution. Survivors shouldn’t have to live their lives avoiding every possible situation that the abusive person could misuse. They can’t control that person’s behavior and we should work to continuously hold abusers accountable for their actions. Abusers go to devastating lengths to isolate their victims from family and friends. It is vital that survivors are able to safely rebuild those important connections, using Facebook and other social networks. Telling a victim to go offline to be safe is not only unacceptable, it further isolates her from people who love her. Our role, as advocates, professionals, friends, and family, is to make sure that survivors know the options to maintain their safety. That’s the empowering strategy – helping survivors take back the control that abusers have tried to steal from their lives. 

This guide addresses privacy on Facebook, as well as safety tips and options for when someone is misusing the site to harass, monitor, threaten, or stalk.  It refers back to Facebook’s Help Center in several places for more detailed information on settings and features – a site that all Facebook users should check out. 

We hope that this guide helps survivors of abuse know how to stay connected through social media while continuing to maintain their safety.

To read our full how-to guide, as well as learn more about Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board, please visit Facebook's Family Safety Center

NNEDV is one of five member organizations comprising Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board, along with Childnet International,, The Family Online Safety Institute and WiredSafety