1. Select a discrete app icon.
According to a survey on DomesticShelters.org, a third of survivors say they never documented abuse. Many survivors have a hard time admitting that their once-loving partner has become abusive. Others are fully aware they’re being abused, but may not even think to keep any sort of log of incidents, especially if the abuse is nonphysical. Yet when it comes time to leave the abuser, secure a permanent order of protection and potentially fight for custody rights, any evidence the survivor can bring to court is only going to bolster his or her case.
“Victims have a tough time being believed,” attorney Giugi Carminati, JD told DomesticShelters.org in “Collecting Evidence of Abuse Without Danger.”
Survivors are often accused of suffering the after-effects of abuse—things like cognitive impairment, memory problems and paranoia—and their testimony can be called into question as a result.
“When those things come across on the stand, they easily get turned into credibility attacks when, in fact, they support their allegations of abuse,” says Carminati. “If it comes down to he said-she said, the victim will lose.”
Below, an updated list of our recommended apps which can not only help survivors record abuse as evidence, but also help them identify abuse so they might be able to get out before evidence is ever needed.
To Record Sounds in the Room: Rev Voice Recorder and Memos
A recording of an abuser’s threats, intimidation or control, or the sounds of physical abuse occurring—as scary as that concept is—can be an instrumental piece of evidence in court. This app allows you to record the sounds around you even with other apps open or when the phone goes to sleep (meaning, you could essentially hide the fact you’re recording).
Pros: Syncs to your Dropbox to back-up your recordings, in case the abuser deletes the recording or damages your phone.
Cons: Only works with iPhone and iPad. Does not record phone calls—for that, you’ll want the Rev Call Recorder.
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To Record a Phone Call: TapeaCall Pro
Because threats and protection order violations often take place over the phone, it’s worthwhile to record phone conversations with an abuser. TapeACall allows you to record calls without an indication to the third party they’re being recorded. The app makes it easy to download recordings to your computer as soon as you end a call. Labeling allows you to categorize recordings for easy access later. (Read this article to find out more about what’s legal and admissible in court regarding phone calls.)
Pros: You can record both incoming and outgoing calls.
Cons: The Pro version is $29.99 a year. Only available on iPhones. Three-way calling needs to be supported in order to use, but adding the third call is virtually undetectable once the other person is on the line.
To Keep a Log of Abusive Incidents: VictimsVoice PWA
Documenting abuse can be an important tool to show a pattern of power, control and intimidation. But how do you keep an abuser from finding your notes? As a “PWA”, or progressive web app, your use of this tool isn’t tracked like your typical Internet use is and therefore it is less likely to be detected by an abusive partner. Each time you log in, you use an activation code. It can be accessed from any computer, anywhere.
Pros: Helps you create legally admissible chronological records to submit in court. Bonus: Was created by a survivor of domestic violence—Sheri Kurdakul.
Cons: A little pricey at $39.95, but the information is kept safe indefinitely, even if you stop using the app and need to come back to it years later.
To Find Help Near You, Learn More About Abuse: DomesticShelters.org Homescreen App (Visit DomesticShelters.org on your mobile phone and tap the prompt at the top of your screen to download your app icon.)
In order to stop or escape from abuse, it helps to understand the complicated nuances of all the abuse tactics one might be experiencing. It also helps to learn from others’ experiences by reading stories from survivors who’ve gotten out. With over 700 articles on DomesticShelters.org giving advice on everything from safety planning to representing yourself in court to rebuilding your finances after abuse, you’ll be better prepared to leave an abuser armed with information. You can also access the first online directory of domestic violence shelters throughout the U.S. and Canada and can find those in your community by simply entering your ZIP code.
Pros: You’re allowed to choose your own indistinct icon to conceal the app on your homescreen. The first time you open it, you can set a password so only you can access it. And there’s no browsing history attached to the app.
Cons: None that we could tell.
To Back You Up in Dangerous Situations: Noonlight
You’re in an iffy situation—you’re meeting someone new that you’re unsure about, or you’re with a current partner and don’t feel entirely safe. Maybe you’re just walking into an unknown situation or heading home at night by yourself. Simply hold down the button in the Noonlight app and release when you are safe. If you let go and don’t enter your pin, 911 will be called and sent to your location.
Pros: You can text with responders if you’re unable to talk. Your location is updated even if you begin moving or get into a car. Can sync with Apple watch to send help immediately with the touch of a button. Also voice-activated through an Alexa (may be useful if children are in the house and in potential danger). Free to use panic button feature; $4.99 to $9.99 a month for additional features.
Cons: None that we could tell.
To Help Recognize an Abuser: RUSafe App
From the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, this free assessment and journaling app helps individuals decide if they’re possibly in a dangerous situation with a potential abuser. The app was based off the danger assessment tool created by Jacquelyn C. Campbell, PhD, RN.
Pros: Free to download, works with iPhone and Android phones, includes a secure journal feature where text, audio and photos can be uploaded and emailed to yourself.
Cons: Icon denotes app’s purpose – may be easier to spot by an abuser who’s spying on a survivor’s phone.
Check This One Out, Too
It’s hard for many survivors to admit that the person they’re with is an abusive partner. After all, aren’t they sweet... sometimes? Wasn’t that huge fight just a one-time thing? It’s OK if you’re still questioning things, but make sure to listen to your gut. A safe person shouldn’t make you feel afraid or controlled.
You may want to download the myPlan app, a discreet and password-protected app that helps you identify if the actions of your partner fall into the abusive category. After answering a few questions, you’ll receive a score on a scale from Variable Danger to Extreme Danger and be given information about who to call for further advice and counseling.
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