UNB nursing prof develops app for abused women

·2 min read

A new app developed by a University of New Brunswick nursing professor is helping victims of intimate partner violence access resources in a safe and discreet way.

The myPlan app was developed by three people and is available on both the android and ios app stores.

The app helps women who think they may be victims of intimate partner violence weigh the risks posed by their partner.

Kelly Scott-Storey said woman using the app have control over what to do, and there are several approaches.

"If the woman is wanting to stay in the relationship, but is looking for ways to be as safe as possible in that situation versus if she's looking to leave an abusive partner, the strategies would look very different," said Scott-Storey. "The tips and the connections to the community resources may look a bit different."

Safety first

A major hindrance for women looking to leave abusive and controlling partners is the fear of reprisal from the partner if found out.

That's why safety was a major concern when Scott-Storey co-develop the app, and stretched to the appearance of the app in mobile devices.

"The actual image is a very neutral image," said Scott-Storey.

"It does not say violence app, it does not say app for women who've experienced violence."

Jordan Gill/CBC
Jordan Gill/CBC

This focus on safety extends to the workings of the app as well.

"The first screen is a very neutral screen and it just says enter your pin code," said Scott-Storey

"If she is in an unsafe situation, say a partner is monitoring her and her phone use, she can actually put in an alternate pin code that we provide. And it will take it to a safe mode … the app then goes to a very neutral web site."

Rob Blanchard
Rob Blanchard

Scott-Storey said a version of the app was tested on a group of 462 women across Canada. The developers saw promising results.

"They reported high levels of safety and accessibility to the app," said Scott-Storey.

"We also saw improved outcomes over time for women who were using this online interactive intervention on things like depression, PTSD, decisional conflicts, experiences of control from the abusive partner and their own sense of mastery to be able to handle situations and make decisions."

The app is available now both on mobile devices and as a web-based platform.