Safety Sync: Considerations for Choosing and Using Awareness & Education Apps

Jan 31st, 2019

Reprinted with Permission from the National Network to End Domestic Violence: https://www.techsafety.org/awarenessapps

Apps that raise awareness about domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking often provide information about the prevalence and dynamics of abuse and available resources.  Some are focused on general education, while others are meant to support family and friends of survivors.  Others apps connect users with programs to help with volunteer or donation needs.  The following are some considerations for choosing and using these apps. 

If you think someone you know is being abused: 

  • Make sure that the app you download has been created by a legitimate domestic violence or sexual assault program.  The content that you're accessing should be accurate and include information that is safe and helpful for both you and the survivor. 
  • Think about the safety and privacy of the person who is being abused.  You can download the app onto your phone to look through and learn how to talk to your friend, but you may not want to send information about the app to your friend or family member.  If their partner is monitoring their phone, that could be a safety risk for them.  Talk about the app or what you learned when you are in a safe place with your friend. 
  • Learn as much as you can about abuse so you can understand it, but refrain from judging your friend or telling them what they ought to do.  You won't be able to know everything about their relationship, and the best thing you can do is to show that you're there for them and that you believe them. 

If you want information to share with students: 

  • Make sure that any app you use is appropriate.  Some apps have been created specifically for teens or college students who are being abused, while others are designed to educate teens and students about abuse and how to help a friend or family member. 
  • In discussing available apps, make sure to talk about using them safely.  Some students may be victims or may know someone who is being abused.  Warn that some apps should only be used if the user feels that doing so is a safe.  If an abuser could be monitoring their partner's cell phone, either physically or remotely, then downloading certain apps could be a risk to their safety. 
  • Provide additional resources.  In some cases, school projects on domestic violence or sexual assault awareness could lead a student to recognize the abusiveness of their partner, their friend's partner, or a family member's spouse.  It's important to always include national, state, and local resources, including information on local programs and hotlines, when discussing abuse so everyone knows where to get help if they need it. 

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