Seeking to address the fact that women between the ages of 18 and 24 are at the highest risk for relationship violence, researchers at the University of Missouri and Johns Hopkins University have developed a new way for young women in abusive relationships to seek help. Since young women are statistically less likely to seek out traditional safety resources, and instead tend to rely on technology and their peers, the Missouri and Johns Hopkins researchers came up with a simple solution: a smartphone app.
The My Plan app, developed in conjunction with the One Love Foundation, is based on 20 years of research, including focus groups conducted with college-aged female survivors of abusive relationships. It provides information about healthy relationships, debunks common relationship violence myths, and details potential behavioral red flags. The app also allows users to input information about their relationship and their priorities, and then generates safety plans based on scientific research. Finally, it provides sample scripts for approaching a friend you believe might be in an abusive relationship and links to local and national resources, including the option to live chat with a peer advocate. It is completely anonymous, has an innocuous name and logo, and is password protected in case abusive partners monitor phone use.
Members of the focus groups said they liked the app because their phones feel private, and they always have their smartphones on hand. Researchers say the main idea behind the app was to provide information and resources very quickly. Previous research has shown that millenials are the age group most likely to own smartphones, and that they often access health information on their smartphones. The app creators say their goal is not to replace current resources, but to connect young people with them more efficiently.
You can learn more about the app and download it here.
[Lead image via Shutterstock]