“It’s changing how victims access support”: App helps combat domestic violence

Bright Sky App

Friday, November 25, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It also marks the start of a worldwide annual campaign against gender-based violence. Here in Czechia a series of events are taking place to address the problem, which has been intensified by the recent Covid pandemic and the ongoing economic crisis.

According to data from the World Health Organisation, women are by far the most frequent victims of domestic violence, with one in three being subjected to physical or sexual violence at least once in their life.

Phoebe Crowder | Photo: LinkedIn

The situation in Czechia is no better. Since the start of this year, 24 women and eight children in Czechia have been killed as a result of domestic violence. According to experts, one of the problems is that many of the victims still don’t know how to ask for help.

One tool that has been helping victims of domestic violence is a free mobile app called Bright Sky. It was developed by the UK-based support charity Hestia in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, and has spread to 11 countries, including Czechia.

Phoebe Crowder is in charge of the Bright Sky initiative:

Bright Sky App | Photo: Nadace Vodafone

“Most importantly, I think, Bright Sky is changing how people are accessing support. We know that many survivors are isolated because of the perpetrator and they don’t have access to help.

“Bright Sky really is available at the touch of a fingertip – on your mobile or on the website. This way, we are reaching people that we have never been able to reach before.

“But first and foremost we need people to be educated. That education starts to break down the stereotypes, the victim blaming that people may have.  Being able to understand your situation is often one of those first steps in domestic abuse.”

The app, originally the idea of a retired British policeman, not only helps its users define whether they are victims of domestic violence but also advises them where to find help and suggests links to various organisations that can provide help.

It can also be used to store evidence and notes which can serve as a key to police investigations. The data can be hidden on a mobile phone to prevent it from being detected by the perpetrator.

The Czech version of the app was launched in 2019 and according to Phoebe Crowder, has proven to be exceptionally useful in this country. To this day, it has been downloaded by thousands of people:

“The Vodafone foundation have been globally supporting the work of Bright Sky, realizing how important the role of technology is in ending domestic violence.

“Here in the Czech Republic, the Vodafone Foundation is forming partnerships across every sector, with the police, with specialists as well as corporations like IKEA and Tesco.

“They are not specialists in domestic abuse, but they are a corporate foundation that is standing up and saying: We know we have a role to play here.”