This app is the latest weapon in the fight against domestic violence

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, worldwide, nearly one in three (27%) women aged 15-49 years have been subjected to some form of physical and/or emotional violence by their partners.

Domestic violence hasn’t decreased in the digital era, as abusers often use technology to stalk, exploit, and control their victims.

According to research, such technology-based abuse features everyday tools, from smart devices to online platforms and mobile apps.

For example, abusers who have physical access to their partners’ devices (phone, laptops, and so on) can use the hardware to monitor, harass, and humiliate them. They can also use geolocation software to track their movements.

This not only allows the trend to continue, but can also give abusers information about any potential plans their victims have to leave.

Fortunately, technological tools are far from just a danger: they can also help protect people against domestic violence.

Whether it’s crowdsourcing, social media campaigns, or AI systems that can identify and predict domestic violence patterns, the world of tech can help address the societal problem of abuse.

Among such inspiring initiatives is Gewaltfrei in die Zukunft (Violentfree into the Future).

The project was initiated by Stefanie Knaab, who presented the idea of a camouflage app for women suffering from domestic violence during the German government’s hackathon (which went by the term #WirVsVirus) in 2017.

Now, she’s working together with the Federal Ministry of Justice, law enforcement, the public prosecutor’s office, criminologists, and victim protection to develop and implement the app in a way that can make a real difference.

The app is intended to be a tool for adult women who are affected by intimate partner violence — with mothers being a special target group.

Users will have the opportunity to access important information on domestic abuse as well as report an attack. This way, they can collect evidence such photos of injuries or diary entries, which can be stored in the app in an encrypted form, and can be later used in court.

In the instance of a life-threatening event, women can make an in-app call to the police without actually speaking to them. Alternatively, the app can notify a person they trust.

Plus, users will be provided with essential references to support facilities in case they wish to leave their relationship.

As noted above, the app’s camouflage feature is a crucial element, which can be used even if the abuser has access to the victim’s phone.

Knaab specifically gives no details on what the app looks like, aiming to avoid perpetrators of domestic violence from recognizing it.

The idea is to create a bit of software that’s disguised, but allows women to collect evidence and contact the authorities without being noticed.

For the same reason, the app will have no name.

Currently, the Gewaltfrei in die Zukunft project is in a pilot stage, with the aim to be fully integrated into official structures set up to prevent domestic violence.

Did you know Stefanie Knaab is speaking at the TNW Conference this summer? Check out the full list of speakers here.

Read More

Ioanna Lykiardopoulou