A new update of RUSafe app seeks to help victims of domestic violence | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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A new update of RUSafe app seeks to help victims of domestic violence 

“I think our ability to use technology and mobile app capabilities is a real way to impact this problem.”

SCREENCAP OF RUSAFE
  • Screencap of RUSafe

Domestic abuse affects people of all ages, genders and races. Aspirant, in partnership with the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh (WC&S), looks to make finding resources and help easier for victims through an updated version of its app, RUSafe. 

“[Abuse] is a real problem, and you’re just seeing the beginning of it coming out of the woodwork,” says Mike McClaine, president of Aspirant. “I think our ability to use technology and mobile app capabilities is a real way to impact this problem.” 

One in three women and one in four men experience physical violence and abuse from a partner or someone close to them, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 

Since RUSafe launched in 2014, the app has helped 1,954 women contact a shelter, according to Aspirant. RUSafe has been used in all 50 states and is connected to 685 shelters across the country.

“It started in Pittsburgh, but we have the whole network, nationally, of women’s shelters [available] in the app,” says McClaine. “So, no matter where [the victim] is, it’ll use GPS functionality to show [them] who is close by.”  

The first iteration of the app acted more as a resource tool. Victims filled out a questionnaire to gauge the severity of the situation and the app listed resources where they could find help. 

Improvements to the new version include: a journal tool that will allow users to record audio and upload pictures along with text to the app; questionnaires for family and friends who believe their loved ones may be victims of abuse; GPS capabilities for more accurate location services; additional links to resources; and the ability to directly dial 911 within the app. 

RUSafe is available in English, Spanish and Nepali. 

The update launches on June 27 at a free and public event, where Aspirant and the WC&S of Greater Pittsburgh will recruit "champions" to spread awareness of the app and of abuse in their communities. Sally Wiggin will emcee. 

Volunteers will receive toolkits to get the word out, resources on abuse and more information on the WC&S, plus two lawn tickets from Live Nation to select shows at KeyBank Pavilion. 

“[Victims] are always given the advice, ‘Well, why don’t you just leave?’ and it’s just not that simple,” says McClaine. “As a community, whether it’s through apps or business support, it’s really important for us all to play our part [in helping them].” 

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5 p.m., and 7 p.m. June 27. Alloy 26, 100 S. Commons Suite 102, North Side. Free. aspirant.com/launchRUSafe

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