New app to support domestic violence victims launched today

by Rachel Darcy

A new app that will connect victims of domestic violence to support services across the country has been launched today.

The app, Bright Sky Ireland, has been created by the Vodafone Ireland Foundation in conjunction with Women’s Aid, An Garda Siochana and UK-based domestic abuse charity Hestia. Available free to download, the app enables users to locate their nearest support centre by searching their current location, an Eircode or a specific area.

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.

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

In a ground-breaking move, the app also contains a feature that will log incidents of abuse without information being saved on the device itself. Users will be able to send information about incidents in 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.

Speaking on the launch of the Bright Sky Ireland app, Vodafone Ireland CEO Anne O’Leary said: “Unfortunately domestic abuse impacts many people across Ireland, with victims in some cases unable to get the support and guidance they desperately need. Following a successful rollout in the UK, I am extremely proud to launch Bright Sky in Ireland to provide victims here with a localised information and support portal.

 “Vodafone supports the wider cause in Ireland and wants to help highlight all forms of domestic abuse.  With a third of Irish workers experiencing domestic abuse and one in five Irish women affected by domestic violence, vital supports for victims are of paramount importance to us.”

Sarah Benson, Executive Director of Women’s Aid said: “As Ireland’s national frontline domestic violence service provider, Women’s Aid is delighted to team up with Vodafone Ireland, An Garda Síochána and Hestia to provide a practical and useful tool for women experiencing for women experiencing abuse from current or former intimate partners. 

“A very important feature of the app is the myth busting information as well as quiz to help people recognise the signs of abuse.  However, 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: “A core function of policing is protecting the vulnerable. Anything that can help An Garda Síochána to combat the terrible and all too common crime of domestic abuse is to be welcomed.

“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.

“The partnership approach to the development of this app also demonstrates once again how multi-agency collaboration is critical to keeping people safe.”

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