My Plan is a self-evaluation tool designed to help survivors assess whether they or a friend are safe within a relationship. Once the survivor has completed a range of questions regarding safety concerns, the app then provides the user with various options of resources for counseling, support and advocacy. These results are based on the individual characteristics and values of the survivor. Whether the survivor wants to remain or leave the abusive relationship, there are step by step options that they could use to remain safe. My plan also includes a Danger Assessment that measures the potential danger of the abuser and risk of lethality. The questionnaire used is from the well-known Danger Assessment tool. This app is specifically designed for women of all ages and backgrounds. The resources are United States specific and available in a Spanish-language version.
What We Love:
- In both the Apple and Android Markets, a disclaimer is provided to warn users of potential cell phone monitoring by the abusive person and suggests removing the app from the phone once finished. Recommendations to delete the app after use are also provided throughout the app, which can increase safety if the abusive person has access to the phone.
- Provides a comprehensive list of resources. The detailed safety planning section provides information on the various areas a survivor’s life may be affected by abuse. The technology safety planning section has tips on protecting your privacy, dealing with harassment and resources that can connect the survivor to resources and experienced domestic violence service providers.
- There are safety planning tips and information specific to individuals who are not ready or able to leave the abusive person.
- To prioritize privacy, the user does not create an account and if the passcode is forgotten, the app will need to be uninstalled and reinstalled.
- Language is user friendly and written in a clear and easy to follow format.
- We love that the language in this app clearly states that everyone has a right to privacy and misuse of tech is often another tactic of abuse that is not ok.
Safety & Privacy Considerations:
Spyware & Monitoring:
- Although there is a disclaimer about potential monitoring, it doesn't address the possibility that the abusive person could also monitor the phone remotely using cell phone spyware. If you believe that your partner may be monitoring your phone remotely, then consider accessing this information from another device or contact a hotline from a safer phone. Also remember that even if you delete the app from the phone, it will still show up in the download history and in any backups of the device.
Children’s Use of Tech:
- There is a section of the safety plan that addresses how to prepare children to communicate and get help in an emergency. The technology that children use and have access to may vary and evolve quickly. It’s important to think through what technology would be easiest and fastest to use in the case of an emergency. If it’s a cell phone, is there a passcode on the phone that the child doesn’t know? If so, is there an option to call 911 without entering the passcode? (Many phones offer that option, learn more about using your phone in an emergency here.) There is a tip in the plan to tell kids not to hang up the phone line if they have called 911 since 911 may call back and that could alert the abuser that help has been called (and possibly escalate abuse). This is possible, although if calling on a cell phone, the call may hang up anyway. Kids can also be taught to put the phone down strategically after giving your address or quickly silencing the ringer.
Technology Safety Planning:
- One of the tips in the technology section of the safety plan suggests to block the abusive person’s number if you break up. It’s important to note that this suggestion may not be safe for everyone. In some situations, blocking the person may escalate their abusive behavior. For example, if they can no longer get ahold of you, they may try to see you in person. Some survivors say that they want to keep a line of communication open because it allows them to gauge where the person is and if they are escalating, helping them to safety plan. This should be an individualized decision based on what you feel is safe for you.
- Another tip suggests that the survivor should not communicate with the abusive person using any technology if they are seeking a restraining order as this may look bad for the case. While this is good advice in many cases, survivors should talk to a local advocate and legal services/law enforcement before deciding whether to cut off all communication. Communication with an abusive person can be used against a survivor to suggest that the survivor was not actually scared of the other person. However, many survivors may be obligated to speak with the abusive party (ex. if there are children involved) and others may feel like they need to maintain contact with the person in order to understand if the violence is likely to escalate. Additionally, there are circumstances in which communication may be necessary in order to seek assistance from the justice system. For example, many stalking laws require that a person has clearly expressed that they do not wish to have any further contact with the abusive person. While cutting off communication may be the best option in the majority of cases, it may not be the best option in all cases and therefore, it is best to communicate with a professional to help weigh the factors that may impact safety.
Suggestions for Survivors:
- This app is created to provide the user with individualized information based on their experiences and their priorities. Because of this, it is set up to provide information and ask questions before getting to the resources. If you think you are in danger, contact an advocate at the National Domestic Violence Hotline or talk to law enforcement as soon as possible.
- The app also initially only gives the user the National Dating Abuse Hotline following the Danger Assessment. It’s important to recognize that the Danger Assessment is a well-researched tool that applies to women of all ages, not just teens or college students. If the user keeps going through the app after this point, additional resources will be provided, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
- There are many great recommendations provided within this app. Remember that the goal of a safety plan is to create an individualized plan that works for you to increase your safety and privacy. You can definitely adapt and build onto the plan that is provided in this app, whatever is helpful and makes you feel safe. Speak with an advocate in order to explore your options and make the best choice for you. Abuse, harassment, and stalking often escalate when someone tries to leave an abusive partner. Because of this, breaking up or leaving an abusive partner can often be the most dangerous time for a victim. Sometime cutting off all communication can actually escalate the abusive behaviors, increasing safety risks. If you are planning to leave the relationship, it is important that you create a safety plan with an advocate. They can help you access resources and provide you with support as you are going through this difficult experience.
Use of App:
- At the time of this review, the links provided in the app were not working and users also could not copy and paste them. You can also find the hotline numbers listed here if this is occurring in your app.