Only a brief Google search will yield you fast results: tracking software and smartphone applications that can be purchased, downloaded and installed on someone else’s phone. Companies will even monitor the software for you for a little as 50 cents a day. Why are these programs available? To be fair, they are usually marketed as a way to keep track of your children so that you know their whereabouts in what can be a dangerous world. They are also supposedly geared towards employers who may be concerned about the security of their businesses. But, what about the use of these types of applications and programs in a domestic violence situation?
Take for example what one software company promises its clients. [The name of the company has been redacted.]
M*** C** Phone Monitoring Software empowers you to get the answers you truly want and deserve. Including a host of advanced surveillance features for parents and employers, our Cell Phone monitoring Software tracks all cell phone activities and sends the information back to your Mobistealth user account. You can download, install and start using M**** C*** tracking Software in just minutes.
There is a disclaimer of sorts that states their monitoring software is for parents and employers only. But, the tool is powerful. You can view downloaded data from anywhere there is an internet connection. You can see every call, text message and picture. And, you can know where your “target cell phone” is 24 hours a day.
Other companies are blatant. Flexi*** invites you to install their product “on the cell phone you want to monitor — it then works in the background or foreground, continually sending you information about everything that is happening on your spouse’s cell phone.”
Regardless of a person’s intentions or motivations, spying is illegal in most countries and a complete violation of your privacy. It can also be part of a pattern of domestic violence and abuse. So, how can you protect yourself?
1. Keep your cell phone with you at all times, as possession of the phone is necessary to install the spyware.
2. Put a lock on your phone with a strong password and monitoring your data usage. Spying apps tend to use a lot of data sending information to and from your phone on a regular basis.
3. Regularly check your app screens for any new or unusual apps that you don’t recognize or remember adding. Delete as necessary.
Spousal monitoring or spying can be just a symptom of a larger abusive relationship. Domestic abuse can, but does not always include physical violence. It can include stalking, isolation and other controlling behavior. If you feel as though you are afraid of your partner or if you fell as though you are being harassed or stalked, you may be in an abusive relationship. Get help. If it is an emergency, you should immediately call 911 and leave the premises if you can. At the very least you should consider filing for a temporary restraining order, if you are being abused.
Whatever your situation, your safety and the safety of your children is what is most important. For assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you can call the NJ Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-572-SAFE. If you would like more advice regarding obtaining a restraining order, please contact us to speak with one of our qualified and compassionate attorneys, experienced in domestic violence matters and the law in New Jersey.