An App Addresses Sexual Violence

by Intern Ginny

You know the drill. You’re going on a date or to a party with someone new, so you overzealously tell your friends as much information as you can (name and phone number of your date, where you’re going) in case you end up in a sticky situation, and promise to text them when you get home safely. Since college, my friends and I have been using this system to keep us as safe as possible, but of course, this plan is far from foolproof. Nearly one in five women report that they have experienced sexual assault in college, so it’s about damn time someone finally created some apps to help us out.

On Tuesday, Circle of 6 was launched by Isis, Inc. and The Line Campaign, to give college-aged women and men a handy tool that helps in the ongoing quest to be social and safe. Circle of 6 was one of 32 submissions to the White House’s “Apps Against Abuse” Technology challenge, which asked developers to create apps “that provide college students and young adults with the tools to help prevent dating violence and sexual assault.” Two winners were announced last fall–Circle of 6 and OnWatch (the latter of which is expected to launch this year).

Circle of 6 offers what looks to be an easy-to-use system to contact close friends in case you need help. After picking five contacts, you click on one of a few different icons, to discreetly send a pre-written message. Clicking the car icon sends your contacts an SMS message that reads, “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely,” and uses GPS to send them a map to your location. The phone icon sends an SMS message reading, “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.” Another icon speedily contacts various emergency hotlines. The company created a short video showing how the app works. 

Personally, I think the car icon seems the most useful. With a few quick taps, it lets you send your friends your coordinates, so you don’t have to fumble to look up and text an address. Do you think you’d be able to make use of this app?

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