London

New app co-developed at Western helps women in violent relationships

A London researcher has helped create an interactive app that helps women in violent relationships assess their risks and plan how to stay safe

Research shows women who used the app report better mental health and increased confidence in safety

The myPlan Canada app, co-developed at Western, is an interactive app that helps women in violent relationships assess their risks and plan how to stay safe. (Aaron Amat/Shutterstock)

A London researcher has helped create an interactive app that helps women in violent relationships assess their risks and plan how to stay safe. 

The myPlan Canada app, co-developed at Western, allows users to input their specific circumstances, such as having young children and living in an urban or rural area. It then creates a personalized safety plan. 

"The purpose of myPlan is to give women space and time to think about their situation, to think about their options. It's a starting place," said Western University nursing professor Marilyn Ford-Gilboe, leader of the Canadian project, in a news release.

Some of the app's features include a quick or detailed assessment, creating a safety plan and where to find helpful confidential services in person, online or by phone. 

The free app is available on Apple and Android throughout Canada and includes location-specific resources customized for every province and territory.

No app as interactive or personalized

"There isn't anything as interactive or personalized as this," said Ford-Gilboe. "It's one of the few apps that has been tested through research."

Research shows women who used these tools reported better mental health, increased confidence in safety planning and a stronger sense of control over their lives.

The app isn't meant to replace the help provided by police, social services and health care, but rather to help women connect to these resources.

Only one in five women experiencing intimate partner violence connects with helplines, shelters or domestic violence programs, said Ford-Gilboe. 

Research partners in Canada included the University of British Columbia and the University of New Brunswick. 

A francophone version is in development through the Université de Laval.

For more information, visit myplanapp.ca

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