These three apps can make a difference for potential victims of sexual assault

Victims of sexual assault are not responsible for violence when it occurs. It’s also not their job to prevent it from happening. But if you or someone you love are alone without protection, these apps can make a huge difference when a situation gets critical.

UMKC students can use these apps on campus or at home to alert trusted friends, document an incident and find resources to prevent an assault or seek help after.

The apps aren’t just for women either—research today shows 1 in 5 sexual assault victims are men, especially those below the age of 30.

1. Circle of 6

About the app

Circle of 6 sets up a prewritten text to friends and tracks a user’s exact location. Users turn the app on when they’re going out for the night.

Why it’s noteworthy

Circle of 6 won The White House’s “Apps Against Abuse” technology challenge in 2011 and is still considered the leading app for preventing sexual assault.

Where it works

The app has 300,000 users in 36 countries, including a localized version in New Delhi, India. There are also localized versions for certain college campuses in the US (although UMKC is not on the list).

Works on

Android and iPhone

Pros

Users can plan ahead for what they want to do in the case of assault. The app sends a prewritten message to six people the user manually puts in their circle, along with their exact location coordinates.

Cons

According to the Apple App Store, the last update of the app was two years ago.

2. Toranj

About the app

Toranj allows users to create a circle of friends who will be alerted in a dangerous situation (similar to the Circle of 6 app). The app also allows users to select the emergency message from a series of pre-written texts, composed by the user.

Why it’s noteworthy

Toranj discreetly provides women with options and educates them about domestic assault and sexual violence.

“In Iran… almost two-thirds of married women reportedly experience some kind of abusive behavior at home,” Forbes Magazine said in an article. “The app has already been downloaded over 40,000 times within a few months of launching.”

Where it works

Iran

Works on

Android

Pros

The app connects users to local sources and addresses the topic of domestic abuse and sexual assault through the appropriate cultural lens. According to the app’s website—which is in Persian and English—Toranj helps users make emergency calls and provides legal and educational resources. Among the app’s special features is a self-assessment of romantic relationships.

Cons

Iranian users have limited use for the app outside of the United States. For students who travel home only in the summer, a different app will be needed while studying abroad.

3. bSafe

About the app

The brand’s slogan, “bSafe—Never Walk Alone,” emphasizes the app’s primary function. The app features a “follow me home” option so users can have pre-selected guardians watch them walk through a parking lot or garage through live streaming video and simultaneous GPS tracking.

Why it’s noteworthy

Its features. bSafe creates a virtual presence designed to protect the victim. It automatically records video, makes emergency phone calls, turns on a flashlight and sounds a loud alarm to frighten attackers.

Where it works

The app has global availability, but is only available in Norwegian and English.

Works on

Android and iPhone

Pros

The app’s alarm system is designed to startle an attacker with a blasting siren-level sound when the alarm is activated. It also appears to be frequently updated.

Cons

The app requires a paid subscription.

If you or someone you know have experienced sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Victims can contact the chat service at https://hotline.rainn.org/online or call 800-656-HOPE (4673). Resources for abuse or sexual assault survivors are also available at the UMKC Women’s Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

seww4@mail.umkc.edu

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