In an effort to connect more young women with safety information, researchers developed the "One Love My Plan" smartphone application, an interactive tool that helps college-age women in abusive relationships clarify their priorities and customise personal safety plans.
"Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are at the highest risk for dating violence. However, these women are less likely than older adults to seek formal safety resources and instead look to peers or technology for help and advice," researchers said.
"At some point, almost everyone knows someone in an unhealthy relationship," said Tina Bloom, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri's Sinclair School of Nursing.
"The purpose of the My Plan app is to quickly and confidentially provide women and concerned friends with information and available resources. Our goal is not to replace existing services, but to better connect students with them," said Bloom.
To ensure that young women would find the app helpful and comprehensive, Bloom and her colleagues conducted focus groups with college-age women who identified themselves as survivors of abusive relationships.
"The My Plan app gives students tools to examine their relationships, set their priorities and privately access resources when they are ready," said Bloom.
Previous studies show that, across all socioeconomic backgrounds, millennials comprise the age group most likely to own smartphones, and many smartphone users access health information using their mobile devices, researchers said.
Bloom said the free app is filled with helpful features, including information on healthy relationship dynamics, common relationship violence myths and potential behavioural red flags.
The app developed in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and the One Love Foundation also has sample scripts for approaching friends who are possibly in dangerous relationships and personalised safety plans based on users' priorities and backed by scientific research.