Did you know that one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner? Or that this rate is far above the rates of other forms of youth violence? February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of dating violence, which often exists in silence.
Smartphone apps have become a gateway for intervention, prevention, and raising awareness, especially for youth. In fact, 89 percent of time spent on smartphones is through apps, and app usage growth has increased significantly since 2013. Since so much of our time is spent on our phones, why not use them to create social change? Here’s a look at four of our favorite apps that have been developed to help to stop dating and domestic violence.
If you’re in a time of need, calling your friends or family is probably one of the first things you would think to do, right? Circle of 6 enables you to do this without having to draw attention to yourself or make it known that you’re signaling to someone for help. It works by allowing you to choose 6 people to put into your “circle,” that should ideally include close friends you know you could count on in a crisis and trusted adults or authority figures. You can then take action within the touch of the “PIN” icon, which sends a text to all 6 members of your circle that says “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely,” along with your GPS location. You can also use the app to alert your circle to call you, or simply a message that says “I need to talk.” This app was originally developed in part by YTH, and it was the winner of the White House Apps Against Abuse challenge.
Although it may appear to be a generic news app, Aspire News is actually a domestic violence alert system. The idea behind this disguise is because many victims of domestic violence have their activities monitored by their abusers. Even inside of the app, it appears to show articles from Yahoo! News, but the app’s “Help” section is anything but normal, as it contains resources for domestic violence and abuse victims, even featuring a “Go,” button that allows the user to send audio and written messages to the police that are programmed into the app. This is a great app for teens who need something discrete.
LiveSafe was originally created by two college students, one a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting and the other a survivor of sexual assault, who came together to build a tool to empower young people to keep themselves safe. LiveSafe allows users to anonymously communicate with law enforcement agencies and connect with friends in the event that they are in danger. The app has a variety of functions, from GPS location services that can be sent to the police, to an option to have a friend monitor your walk home, the option to connect to a guide on your college campus to walk you home, as well as a plethora of resources on sexual violence.
Are you unsure of how healthy your relationship is? The MyPlan app was created to allow users to assess the situation that you’re in, judge the level of healthiness of your relationship and if it’s unsafe, and to help you to create an action plan. The app is based on two decades of research from Johns Hopkins, who studied women in abusive relationships to understand how abusive relationships played out for victims. The app is anonymous and protected by a pin number, so that only you can access the information there. You can then take the Danger Assessment to see if your relationship is at risk, which can then lead you to their Planning Tool and resource guide so that you can be prepared and learn more about abusive relationships. MyPlan also recommends that you refer a friend who you think may be in trouble, and it is designed to be able to be used collaboratively, if you so choose.
We hope to see you refer teens to these apps for #TeenDVMonth! If you have other app recommendations for youth to use to prevent dating or domestic violence, raise awareness of it, or intervene, tweet us @YTHorg with the hashtag #TeenDVMonth to tell us about them.
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