Smartphone app offers help for those in abusive relationships

Feb. 18, 2014 at 8:56 PM
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COLUMBIA, Mo., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- University of Missouri researchers say a smartphone app can help college-age women in abusive relationships clarify priorities and create personal safety plans.

Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are at the highest risk for dating violence, figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, but they are less likely than older adults to seek formal safety resources and instead look to peers or technology for help and advice, the researchers said.

University of Missouri researchers collaborated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and the One Love Foundation to develop the "One Love My Plan" smartphone application, an interactive tool to connect college-age women in abusive relationships with safety information, a university release reported Tuesday.

"At some point, almost everyone knows someone in an unhealthy relationship," Tina Bloom at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing said. "The purpose of the My Plan app is to quickly and confidentially provide women and concerned friends with information and available resources. Our goal is not to replace existing services, but to better connect students with them."

The app provides information on healthy relationship dynamics, common relationship violence myths and potential behavioral red flags; personalized safety plans based on users' priorities and backed by scientific research; and links to local and national resources.

"Students said that phones feel private, and they always have their phones with them," Bloom said. "In abusive situations, there are many factors to consider. The My Plan app gives students tools to examine their relationships, set their priorities and privately access resources when they are ready."

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