There are plenty of helpful apps that promise to boost personal safety, but a new one put out by the One Love Foundation hopes to become a tool to help women recognize warning signs and get help.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Ramsey County, and it's already been a terrible year for intimate partner crimes. So far in 2013, more people have died of domestic violence than in all of last year.
Kira Steger and Mandy Matula have become the faces of domestic violence in the Twin Cities. Jeffery Trevino, Steger's husband, was recently convicted of her murder. Matula still has yet to be found after her ex-boyfriend fatally shot himself before talking to police. Now, Steven Matula says he wishes his sister would have had an app like the one recently unveiled before breaking things off with David Roe.
"I didn't see any threat towards her at all," he conceded.
The One Love Lite app was developed by a foundation created by the mother and sister of Yeardely Love, the University of Virginia lacrosse player who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2010 -- and it discretely asks difficult questions that the user may not want to answer in open conversation.
"Is he constantly jealous of you?" one question reads.
Steven Matula went through the questions with FOX 9 News, answering them in his sister's stead.
"She was in severe danger, and now she's missing," he said.
After taking the full test, Steven Matula ranked his sister's danger at 17 -- one he says might have been avoided if she had that resource at her fingertips.
"This threw a curve ball at me," he admitted. "Maybe, if she was alive today and saw that, she would have looked at it a lot differently than she did."
The free, anonymous app was released in September to help victims and their families.
"The 20 questions are from an instrument I developed called the danger assessment," explained Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, who created the 20 questions found in the app.
According to Campbell, the results are 98 percent accurate in assessing the danger a woman is in.
"We find that abused women underestimate their risk of homicide," Campbell told FOX 9 News.
Connie Moore, executive director of The Alexandra House, has extensive experience helping survivors of domestic violence, and she described the app as "awesome." In fact, after learning about the app on Tuesday, she plans to put it on their website and promote it on Facebook.
"To really have that opportunity to go through that assessment and see it differently could be very helpful, could make a difference between someone going for help or not," she said.
Although some may worry a dangerous significant other could see the app on a phone and react violently, the app has prepared for that by requiring a PIN number before it will open. In addition, the app includes a 24-hour chat line so that victims can seek help. That's an asset, and one Moore hopes will raise awareness and save lives.
"Domestic violence is your business," Moore insisted. "It's not a private, family matter."
The test can also be taken online by clicking the app link below.
- Download the app for iPhone or Android: http://www.joinonelove.org/resources-help
- One Love Foundation: http://www.joinonelove.org/
- Ramsey County resources: http://www.co.ramsey.mn.us/ph/cp/violence_prevention.htm#sexual_violence