Need Help Taking a Stand Against Dating Violence? There’s an app for that!

When I go out on a date with a new guy, I always make sure at least one of my friends has his name, where we are going, and if I have it- the make and model of his car. I also give them a time frame by which they can expect to hear from me. If they should ever not hear from me, they know to start sounding the alarm until they are sure that I am ok.

It may sound a little overly cautious to some, but I do it because 1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence in her life. One in every 6 will have experienced sexual assault. Approximately 80% of these victims are under the age of 30. Those are some scary numbers if you ask me. Some more scary numbers: One in 33 men will have experienced rape or attempted rape; 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men will be stalked at some point in their lives.

The past two decades have shown increasing awareness about dating violence and sexual assault on a political level, starting with the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Sponsored by then Senator, now Vice President Joe Biden; it made a crucial mark on encouraging an end to violence against women. It created numerous federally funded programs that help raise awareness of the issue, as well as teaching about how to prevent violence against women.

Vice President Biden has taken his commitment to ending violence against women to a new medium by releasing a new awareness initiative. With the assistance of Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, they have released the Apps against Abuse challenge, which encourages developers to create Smartphone apps that will encourage prevention and awareness of dating violence. The apps target demographic would be teenagers and people in their early 20’s.

The goal of the app is to provide a “way to connect with trusted friends in real-time to prevent abuse or violence from occurring… it will also allow friends to keep track of each other’s whereabouts and check in frequently to avoid being isolated in vulnerable circumstances.”

Anti-violence advocates have used various aspects of teen focused pop culture to raise awareness of the issue within that demographic for decades. Some of the more effective mediums have been through music, music videos, television shows and movies. Vice President Biden is using this trend and taking it to a brand new level by taking advantage of the wide-spread popularity Smartphone apps have amongst teenagers and college-age Americans.

Submissions are being taken through October 17th and a winner will be announced October 31st. There is no date set for when the app or apps created would be available for wide-spread use, but I freely acknowledge I will be among those that download it, will you?

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