Apps designed to help protect against domestic violence

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

BALTIMORE, Md. - A push, a shove, a punch. Domestic violence comes in many forms but they all cause fear and pain. After the shocking video of NFL great Ray Rice knocking his then girlfriend out in an elevator went public, domestic violence is getting people talking about ways to stop it.

A new study from the University of Michigan shows that in the U.S., one in five men reports violence towards a woman. But experts say it's just not an adult problem. Domestic violence is becoming more prevalent in teens and young women. In fact, females ages 16 to 24 are the most likely group to experience an abusive relationship. So what can young women to do protect themselves?

Some forensic nurses at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland have developed one particular app to help young victims. They say age-old informational brochures just don't work.

"If seen by the perpetrators, their abusive spouses or boyfriends, get them beat up," said Debra Holbrook, Forensic Expert at Mercy Medical Center.

The app called bMOREsafe offers victims information about their options in a discreet way. It also provides access to a 24-hour hotline, a direct link to 911 and GPS instructions to a nearby ER.

"Technology is the best way right now to get the word across," said Erin Lamar, a Forensic Nurse Examiner at Mercy Medical Center.

One in five female high school students reports being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. 57-percent of teens know someone who's been in an abusive dating relationship. But, 81-percent of parents in one survey said they didn't know or didn't believe teen dating violence was an issue.

The experts recommend that all young women seek resources for domestic violence.

"We've been encouraging them to have it on their phones just in case," said Lamar.

High school students Gabriella and Elise have downloaded the app. Elise has known girls in violent relationships.

"It's just awful because they don't know what to do and I'm a friend and I don't know what to do for them," Elise said.

"Girls are really good about hiding stuff," added Gabriella.

This bMOREsafe app is helping young women find a new way to get the support they need.  This app is specifically made for the Baltimore area, and was created by Mercy Medical Center. Mercy Hospital is a designated domestic violence and sexual assault center. The hospital offers help 24/7 for anyone in need. The app uses resources for those in that area, and works with their specific needs. However it can be beneficial to victims anywhere. It also is strongly recommended for use by health educators to use as a resource.  The app is available for download in both the iPhone and Android markets.

To find out about more about how to help you and your daughters stay safe from domestic violence, check out the domestic violence hotline at www.thehotline.org or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

 Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Domestic violence affects about one in every four women in their lifetime. About 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by their partner each year. Women are the victims of about 85% of domestic violence cases. This abuse most often always happens from someone the victim knew. On average about one in six women and one in 33 men have experienced rape. About 7.8 million people have been raped by an intimate partner during their lives. Unfortunately, most of these cases of domestic abuse and sexual assault are never reported to the police. Fear and uncertainty are major causes of this. But now there is a way to get help and can be kept hidden on your phone.

There are a few other apps out there that have similar situations. The NightOwl app, available in iTunes and Google Play, is a party planning app. It allows you to add guests, upload pictures, but also keep tabs on anyone or anything that seems to be suspicious activity. You can then alert the host or other guests of what you see.

The SPOT a Problem app works with a host wearing a small wristband and anytime a guest sees a problem, whether it is domestic violence, police, or a complaint, an alert is sent to the host wearing the bracelet to notify them.

A few other apps similar to these are the I'm Here For You app, the Circle of 6 app, and the LiveSafe app.

The ASPIRE News app looks like any other iPhone or Android news service, but it's actually a potentially lifesaving domestic violence alert system.

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