Sexual abuse is just one form of physical abuse that frequently occurs alongside drug and alcohol abuse. While we generally think of safety as a process to protect ourselves from accidents, keeping ourselves safe from abuse and trauma certainly falls under safety. Relationships that turn violent, either physically or sexually violent, can have long term effects on a woman’s health. Prevention is the key to reducing the number of women who suffer, however, equally important is giving women the access to outside intervention at the moment they most need it.
Enter smartphone technology.
In July 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a contest for App developers, called Apps Against Abuse. Recognizing that access to outside help and intervention can help prevent sexual abuse or other trauma, Health and Human Services challenged developers to create apps to help prevent sexual abuse. Two apps stood out among the crowd, Circle of Six and On Watch. Both winning apps hinge on a woman’s ability to silently and quickly reach out for help or intervention without putting themselves in a potentially more dangerous situation. The apps allow a woman quick touch access to a predetermined list of contacts with text messages for help and intervention. Circle of Six also has a quick button to an emergency sexual abuse help line, while On Watch provides easy push button notification of an individual’s GPS location and a call for help, as well as one-touch notification to campus police or 911.
Sexual Abuse and Technology
Will an app save your life? It may. Immediate intervention can stop an abusive situation or prevent the abuse from escalating. Women who are victims of sexual abuse are more vulnerable to other behavioral health issues, ranging from depression to substance abuse. The long-term effects of sexual abuse and other trauma can be devastating without behavioral health treatment. Any tool to help prevent a woman from becoming a victim of sexual abuse is worthwhile. Both apps are free and available now for download.
Sexual abuse is most common in women ages 16-24, however any woman can be at risk. Women who frequent situations involving drug and alcohol abuse are especially vulnerable, even if they do not abuse drugs and alcohol themselves. However, the risk does increase when a woman is under the influence of drugs and alcohol. We encourage you to share these downloads with the women in your life and empower yourself with a plan of action.