By: Erin Leffew, MA, Program Coordinator (Prevention & Education)
is an award-winning, free mobile app for both iPhone and Android users. The app’s tagline claims it “prevents violence before it happens,” and the idea behind Circleof6 is to provide an interruption or safe ride home for people who find themselves in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. Of the app, Vice President Joe Biden says, “Thanks to the creativity of these developers, young people now have a new line of defense against violence in their lives.”
To set up this free app, you first download it through the app store on your mobile device. Once it has downloaded and you’ve opened it, it will ask you to choose your country. This is so that the app knows the language and location for hotline numbers, which are also quickly accessible through Circleof6. Important: in order to take any action, Circleof6 will need to know your location; therefore, allow it access when it later requests it. On this initial page, there are also options for a tutorial and community guidelines.
After you choose your country, you will be asked to click on the + icons that form a circle to add six trusted contacts. The app uses your contact list to fill in the names and phone numbers for you. If at any point you need help with the app, there is a lowercase i icon on the bottom right of your screen that takes you to info/help.
Once you’ve chosen you’re six contacts, the app opens up your text messenger to send a group message to your circle that says, “I’ve chosen you to be part of my Circleof6. Find out more at http:circleof6app.com Msg sent thru Circleof6.” This text can be edited before being sent or canceled.
In the middle of your circle on your screen, a smaller circle icon says, “ask my circle to.” Tapping this pops up three more circles: one with a car icon, one with a phone icon, and one with a text bubble icon.
Tapping the car icon will pop up a text to send to your circle that says, “Come & get me. I need help getting home safely. Call when you’re close. My location is near: [gives Google map link to your location] Msg sent thru Circleof6.” Both the contacts and the content can be edited before sending. When the situation is taken care of, you can tap the checkmark icon on the bottom left of your screen to open a text message that says, “Thanks everyone. I’ve gotten help. Msg sent thru Circleof6.” This is also editable. It’s important to notify your circle when you are safe or know someone is on the way to get you.
The phone icon brings up a text message for your circle that reads, “Call me and pretend you need me. I need an interruption. Msg sent thru Circleof6,” which, like the others, can be edited.
Another option is the word bubble icon, which pulls up another editable text message that says, “I’m looking up information about healthy relationships. Just letting you know. http://loveisrespect.org
Msg sent thru Circleof6.” This message can be a catalyst for opening up a discussion with your trusted contacts about what is going on in your life and alert them to the potential for assistance in the future.
At the bottom center of your screen, there is a yellow triangle icon with a purple exclamation point in the center. Tapping this will open a Dial Hotline box with two options: Rape or Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse. Once you tap the one you need, it immediately dials a national hotline for you.
One of the great advantages of this app is that it is all tapping. No typing necessary at all to get help, just a series of taps in something that looks like a social media platform, which adds an extra layer of safety for the user because it is unclear what he or she is actually doing. Another great feature is the “Msg sent thru Circleof6” line that is at the end of each prewritten text. This alerts the receiver to the seriousness of what is happening. The receiver is also alerted to the fact that the others have been notified, as well.