App aims to help victims of domestic violence - WFSB 3 Connecticut

App aims to help victims of domestic violence

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The Aspire News app. (WFSB photo) The Aspire News app. (WFSB photo)

A new app looks to hook victims of domestic violence up with help without their abuser knowing.

It's called Aspire News and to the untrained eye, it looks like an ordinary app.

When a user opens it to see the top stories of the day, there's a help section. When it's selected, there's an area of trusted contacts that the user uploaded in advance.

“We know that a lot of people, especially younger people, they’re not necessarily going to call a hotline or use a computer," said Linda Blozie, Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, "if they even own a computer because most people everything they need nowadays is on the phone.”

Blozie said the app can be a useful way to get help without being obvious.

Many people can find themselves in a dangerous situation if the abuser knows the victim is calling 911.

It was a topic recently highlighted in a 2013 Super Bowl advertisement where the caller dialed 911 to "order a pizza," when she was actually seeking help.

Some police departments said they've been training their dispatchers to recognize situations like that. Some said they even show that video.

"People may call you and it may look like something totally different," Blozie said.

The Aspire News app looks to do something similar, but requires advanced planning to set up. Emergency contacts need to be added, which will be the people who are alerted when the app is activated.

Those people will get an alert, not a call or text message. Then, the user has to have a plan.

“The most important thing is to have a really good safety plan and your app can be a part of your safety plan," Blozie  said. "To say if I find myself in trouble, I’m gonna use this app and I’m gonna try to communicate with you.”

Critics said the app does not directly dial 911, which could be the safest and fastest thing to do.

Supporters, however, said the app provides information about domestic violence resources. They also said if it helps save one life, then it's worth a download.

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