Technology and how it can help potential victims and survivors of sexual or domestic violence.
Recently I was working with a victim who is terrified of her abuser’s ability to track her everywhere she goes. In speaking with some law enforcement officials, I learned enough to keep me awake at night about how easy it is for someone who is reasonably tech savvy to track a victim.
Thinking there must be an app for that—I found some interesting information on the website domesticshelters.org.
To be honest, there is no substitute for a professional advocate, an order of protection, or an escape plan. However there are apps which can help you along the way out of a dangerous situation. Here are a few I found.
SafeTrek- this app helps you feel secure moving from one place to another (like a dark parking lot, a bar to your car, on campus, etc.). It is simple to use- you simply hold down a button on the screen when you feel unsafe. When it’s released, 911 is contacted for you and police are dispatched. To cancel the call you must enter a 4-digit pin. This would be especially helpful for someone who feels unsafe and needs a sneaky way to call for help.
Users say the pro is that it is simple to learn and use and your self-created personal pin is required to cancel your call for help. The con is that while the download is free, you have to buy a monthly subscription (starts at $2.99) to access the features. As of today, this app has about 2000 ratings, averaging 4.5/5 stars.
ICE BlackBoxis a free app that allows you to record a video, then automatically uploads your video to the cloud, keeping it secure and keeping anyone from deleting it, while also sending your footage to your ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts. Users cannot delete, edit, or change recordings, so all evidence is permanent!
The pro is that it can also call 911 within the app with one click and will notify your ICE contacts at the same time. You can also let criminals know your neighborhood is armed with Neighborhood Watch NOW. Post signage in your community to let everyone know. The con is some reports say there may be problems with the app saving videos—hopefully that’s corrected now.
iMatter was developed by a mother whose son was killed by his father. This app is aimed toward educating and empowering people to learn the signs of an abusive partner and promote self-esteem. The app contains inspirational messages and videos, a blog and interactive quizzes on topics like identifying abuse in your or a friend’s relationship.
Users say the pro is that it is very simple and straightforward that anyone of any age could find useful. The con is that it’s difficult to locate the Find Support page which is slightly hidden so you can learn about how to talk to someone. It links to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, but you need to click on the three lines in the upper right hand corner of the Home page to get there.
If you try out any of these apps, please let me know what you think and I’ll update this information.