A new school year is underway, and while college can be an exciting time of learning, exploration, and personal growth, it can also bring uncertainty and violence. Women ages 16–24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault among all women — 1 in 5 young women will experience attempted or completed sexual assault while they are in college, including those who are in dating relationships.
Given these alarming statistics, you never know when you might need your friends.
A new, free iPhone and Android app called Circle of 6 allows friends to help each other out of potentially unsafe situations before they escalate into violence.
To use the app, you pick six trusted friends to be in your circle. They receive notification that they are in your circle and an explanation of what that means. These are the people you can easily contact when you need help.
The app includes prewritten text messages you can send to your friends, such as “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.” and “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely.” For the messages that ask for a pickup, the GPS on Google Maps tells your friend your exact location.
And if things are really dangerous, the app includes an option to call 911 or a sexual assault or domestic abuse hotline.
What is so unique is how the app allows users to get help from any one of their six friends discreetly and quickly with one or two touches on the phone screen. When you need help fast, you don’t have to scroll through your contacts or compose a text.
Because AAUW members are passionate about preventing sexual harassment and assault, we are proud to promote the Circle of 6 app to our members, supporters, and blog readers. And we’re in good company — the White House, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded Circle of 6 as one of their Apps against Abuse winners last year.
Circle of 6 is going beyond just creating an app to help prevent sexual violence. This week, ahead of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the app’s developers released a healthy relationships tool kit for educators.
The tool kit was created in response to a survey of U.S. high school counselors in which 81 percent of respondents reported that their schools had no protocol or training on the subject of dating violence despite the fact that by seventh grade, dating violence is common.
Download the free tool kit, which includes information and solutions for both students and teachers. I encourage you to share both the app and the tool kit with your networks. You never know who will need them.