By Jesseca Muslin
In early March, the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, in partnership with Vodafone Americas Foundation, announced the U.S. release of Bright Sky, a mobile app and website that serves as a resource for people concerned about or experiencing domestic violence.
The Bright Sky app offers practical information to educate, detect warning signs and deliver life-saving information and features to respond to domestic violence. The aim is to offer a secure path of support to those experiencing domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is a public health issue that impacts more than 10 million women, men and children across the U.S. each year, and we see firsthand the resultant daily impact and devastation,” said Nicole Molinaro, president & CEO of the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, in a press release.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually in the U.S. In addition, one in four women and one in seven men aged 18 and older have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Daily, nearly 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
In 2014, the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh launched the RUSafe? app, developed for free by the Pittsburgh-based company Aspirant. That effort connected the organization with Hestia, a UK-based crisis support charity that helped Vodafone launch Bright Sky in 2018.
The only multinational domestic violence support app, Bright Sky is available in 13 countries, including Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, South Africa and the United Kingdom — and now the U.S.
With every launch in a new country, Bright Sky has received feedback and continues to improve, Molinaro says. “We have quarterly meetings with all the countries involved to share information, and we benefit from the global collective brains and the ongoing work with the global partners.”
Almost two months after its U.S. release, the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh reports that Bright Sky is garnering positive reviews across the board.
The Bright Sky app offers a 12-question test to help determine whether users may be in an abusive relationship. The app also includes information about controlling or coercive behavior from a partner and how to identify it. Bright Sky app screenshots courtesy of Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.
“We’ve heard from survivors and from professionals in the field who think it’s useful and from folks who have downloaded it in anticipation [of needing to use it] or for a specific situation,” Molinaro says, adding that since the U.S. launch, there have been more than 66,000 combined visits to the site and downloads of the app, which is available on both i0S and Android.
“Promotion is a marathon, not a sprint,” Molinaro says about helping the public learn about Bright Sky. “Most of the promo is going to be grassroots marketing and reaching out to anybody and everybody who can spread the word.
“We feel that the app is so important as another tool to reach survivors or those concerned about domestic violence,” Molinaro says. “To be the partner that has enabled [the launch] to happen in the United States has us really honored.”