New app to connect domestic violence victims with support services

Sarah Benson, CEO, Women’s Aid; Anne O’Leary, CEO of Vodafone Ireland and Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly; at the launch of Bright Sky Ireland, a free app that connects victims of domestic violence and abuse. Picture: Naoise Culhane

A new app will connect victims of domestic violence and abuse to support services across the country.

Bright Sky Ireland is the latest addition to the domestic violence project by Vodafone Ireland Foundation, which uses connectivity to help support those affected by domestic abuse here and across Europe.

It was created in partnership with UK-based domestic abuse charity Hestia, along with Women's Aid Ireland and An Garda Siochána. It enables users to locate their nearest support centre by searching their area, Eircode or current location.

A short questionnaire will help users assess the safety of a relationship while also providing information about different forms of abuse such as sexual violence, stalking and harassment. The app also highlights the types of supports available, steps to consider if leaving an abusive relationship and how to help a friend affected by domestic abuse.

The app also contains a feature designed to log incidents of domestic abuse without any content being saved on the device itself. Information is sent to a secure digital journal, using a text, audio, video or photo function. Evidence collated through this function will enable Gardaí to intervene and can help secure prosecutions.

This follows the recent launch by Vodafone Ireland of a workplace policy for victims of domestic abuse.

Recent research carried out by the Vodafone Foundation showed that 31% of Irish workers have experienced some form of domestic abuse of which more than half (57%) felt safer at work compared to home. 63% experienced psychological abuse and control, 47% experienced physical violence, 23% experienced sexual violence or abuse and 19% experienced stalking. 21% said they experienced some form of domestic abuse daily and 28% said they experienced it two or three times a week.

On the back of this research, Vodafone Ireland launched a new domestic abuse policy to support employees affected. It includes 10 additional days' paid leave, specialist counselling and management training. The policy also provides emergency financial aid such as salary advances and assistance for employees to set up a new bank account that allows financial independence.

Sarah Benson, executive director of Women's Aid, said:

Our biggest hope is that the ability to log incidents of abuse whether it’s photos, text notes or recordings, will help women experiencing abuse gather the pattern of evidence they need to avail of legal protection and secure convictions of the new crime of coercive control.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: "This app will help inform victims as well as providing a safe way for them to record incidents of domestic abuse, which could help secure prosecutions, particularly in relation to the new offence of coercive control."

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