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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

The “Apps Against Abuse”

November 2, 2011

Like any new iPhone user, I am obsessed with the latest and greatest apps available for my phone. I spend far too much of my time reading online blogs and posts about new apps.

I have come across two wonderful apps that resulted from a  challenge directed at developers by the federal government called “Apps Against Abuse”.  The idea behind this challenge is to create an application that would help young people deal with and prevent abuse and violence, particularly in relationships.

According to, young women face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault. Nineteen percent of women (nearly one in five) report experiencing sexual assault while in college.  The challenge was to create an  app that could be used to connect  with trusted friends in real-time. It would also have a social function for staying in touch and would allow friends to keep track of each other and to check in frequently to avoid being isolated in vulnerable circumstances.

OnWatch was one of  the challenge winners with  a phone- based app that incorporates alarms, auto-messaging to friends and a panic button that calls 911.  The other winning app, called Circle of 6, contacts six of your closest friends if you are in trouble and asks them to come help. It even plugs in your location  for them.

This challenge creates yet another tool in the battle against abuse that includes public health policy initiatives and private advocacy organizations. No prize money was awarded, but developers worked hard to create an app to benefit the greater good.