It's normal, and everyone that has ever been in a relationship - even the best ones - has felt it at one point or another. I'm talking about jealousy. It's natural to feel a little over-protective about the ones you love, but you have to be careful not to let those feelings control your life.
When that happens, it hurts the people around you so much more than you think. Tech companies have made a fortune exploiting and capitalizing on those feelings by selling spyware apps and services for abusers to track their partners. And experts are calling this wave of technological invasion an epidemic.
Apps and small mobile programs are being marketed as tools for "covertly tracking a 'cheating wife or girlfriend'," and for around $50 an undetectable program can be installed on a computer, tablet or smartphone.
These programs can covertly access the victim's GPS to locate them at all times, and the microphone can also be remotely accessed to listen to the victim's surroundings. Calls can be recorded, and sent and received text messages, emails and pictures are easily accessed. Even the camera can be turned on to surreptitiously record the victim.
Some of the companies selling spyware or these despicable apps are a little more careful about how they market their product, but the fact still remains that these things are enabling abusers to further traumatize their victims.
"A survey by Women’s Aid, the domestic violence charity, found that 41 per cent of domestic violence victims it helped had been tracked or harassed using electronic devices. A second study this year by the Digital Trust, which helps victims of online stalking, found that more than 50 per cent of abusive partners used spyware or some other form of electronic surveillance to stalk their victims."
And that's not the worst part. The real harm experienced by victims of domestic abuse - men as well as women - are unable to get the protection they need because the police force hasn't been trained to take the proper steps to pursue and prosecute the abusers.
"The Independent has been told of a case where a woman had a conversation she had held with a friend on her mobile played back to her by her partner, who had bugged her phone with spyware. He then told her he had connections with criminals and had had people killed.
"In another incident, an abusive husband managed to gain access to his spouse’s eBay account using spyware and found a delivery address. He then lay in wait and attacked his wife in an assault so vicious that she lost sight in one eye."
In fact, many domestic abuse shelters no longer allow smartphones on the premises because of the spyware that could be used by abusers to locate their victims.
Many of the companies that sell these products try to cover their assets by stating that these programs should only be used on someone's phone or computer with permission, or that they are intended for companies or employers keeping track of employees. But any software that has the ability to hide can be used for evil purposes.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, click here for some helpful resources and tips on how to keep your gadgets clean of spyware.
Abusers will always try to isolate their victims. If a friend stops calling and you think that abuse might be the cause, the best way to beat back an abuser is to never let your friend or family member be without a shoulder to cry on.
Stopping an abuser starts with friendship and support. It's up to us to make the change.