- Associated Press - Monday, March 26, 2018

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A smartphone app developed by a University of Missouri professor is helping victims of intimate partner violence create safety plans and find resources.

MU associate nursing professor Tina Bloom and her team helped build myPlan, a decision tool for women in abusive relationships to assess the danger they’re in and access emergency resources like child care, medical records and legal advice.

Women using myPlan can take a danger-assessment test to determine whether a relationship is healthy or not. Users can access contacts to help evaluate abusive situations or find safe places to stay.

The information on the app can also be tailored to college women, Spanish speakers, pregnant women and those in same-sex relationships, the Columbia Missourian reported .

The app has been downloaded more than 6,000 times since introduced in 2016.

The original program was created in 2010 by Nancy Glass, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Glass knew fear, stigma and other reasons limited many women from seeking out shelters or formal services. She developed myPlan to address that problem, which was first created as a laptop-based program.

Studies conducted about myPlan show women reported having less decision conflict after using the app once. They’re also more likely to have left an abuser.

“Women have said to us that it’s a non-judgmental tool,” Glass said. “They don’t feel judged. It’s private, they can look at it, they can use it, they don’t have to talk to someone and they can get that information.”

The app can also be used by friends and family members to learn about relationship violence, how to spot it and how to bring it up.

Bloom said that women ages 18-24 experience the highest rates of relationship violence. She encouraged college-aged men to also download myPlan.

“I think college men have a really important role to play in this, and they want to help their friends, too,” she said.

MyPlan is expanding internationally, with versions developed for Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Models for Kenya, China, Somalia, Ghana and Thailand are underway.

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Information from: Columbia Missourian, http://www.columbiamissourian.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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