Before working with AdvanceNet Labs, my idea of a domestic violence situation was simple and vague. It went something like this: A woman’s husband physically harms her and/or her children and she either stays or she finds alternative shelter. But I’ve recently learned that there is way more to it than that. Most college students think that since they’re not married or living with their boyfriend or girlfriend they couldn’t be in a domestic violence situation. ‘Domestic violence’ may not be an accurate term to use for college students experiencing violence, but ‘intimate partner violence’ is.
When college students experience intimate partner violence it’s not much different from those experiencing domestic violence. Both can occur emotionally and physically and can have lasting effects on the people involved. One thing, though, that makes domestic violence different is economic dependency. I’ve learned that many victims of domestic violence are not able to access the financial means to escape the abuse due to one or more forms of economic abuse. When a victim is in this situation, she can feel helpless and like she doesn’t have a way out.
Through my work with AdvanceNet Labs, I’ve also learned there are times when women’s shelters are too full. When this happens, the woman, who may also have children in tow, is turned away and left to either go back to her abuser or to find alternative shelter that still may not be safe. This is where the SafeNight app can help. SafeNight is an app that allows shelters to send out alerts when their available bed space has reached capacity. Then, community members who have downloaded the app see the alert and can donate safe nights via hotel rooms. I use my phone apps every day, and my iPhone is constantly on me. It’s amazing to see how something as simple as a phone app can be so impactful! The SafeNight app is changing lives. I would love to see it expand out of Texas and reach across to my home here in Ohio.