iMatter: Rosie Batty’s app to help young women avoid and leave unhealthy relationships | Women's Agenda

iMatter: Rosie Batty’s app to help young women avoid and leave unhealthy relationships

Australian of the Year and anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty has launched a phone app aimed at teaching young women how to recognise signs of unhealthy and abusive relationships.

Batty has been campaigning tirelessly against domestic and family violence since her son Luke was murdered by his father on February 12, 2014.

She hopes the app, called iMatter and hosted by counseling service Doncare, will be a revolutionary preventative measure against domestic violence by empowering young women to leave unhealthy relationships before they become abusive. The app helps young women to identify signs of an unhealthy relationship and signs of an abusive partner, such as overprotective, possessive and jealous behaviours.

Batty hopes to use the app to promote greater understanding of the fact that domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse.

“I think throughout our communities, at any age, we’re learning it’s not just about physical violence,” she told the media on Saturday.

“Violence is also psychological, which includes verbal.

“It’s not just about wearing a black eye and physical harm, it’s far more complex than that.”

The need for this kind of app was highlighted by recent Australian research revealing that 22% of women under the age of 20 have experiences domestic violence and, even more worryingly, that many young women misinterpret abusive behaviour such as excessive jealousy and controlling tendencies as signs ofaffection.

“We hear again and again from young people that they are putting up with things in relationships that are really very disrespectful and sometimes frightening,” said Doncare director Carmel O’Brian.

O’Brian said young women feel they are rarely warned about the very fine line between controlling behaviours and abuse.

Batty and Doncare decided to promote greater understanding of these issues with an app that explains the connection between certain types of behaviours and violent or abusive relationships. It allows young women to share stories of their experience in relationships and also has the option to be kept private, like a digital journal.

The app also promotes self-esteem and confidence, as Batty believes low self-esteem can lead young women to enter and remain in damaging relationships.

“If you’re approaching a relationship when you have no self esteem you’re most likely to enter into a toxic relationship,” Batty said.

“It will not get better, it will wear you down and will reduce you to a very low point.”

Her strongest message to young women was this: “If (the relationship) doesn’t feel right, get out of it. Get out.

Batty said this lack of education about the causes of violence meant she did not realise for years the extent of the abuse she was suffering.

“It was violence and no one ever deserves it,” she said of her own relationship. “We rarely do end them when we should.”

The app, which O’Brian describe as “a bit like a virtual library of images, video clips, quizzes, articles”, was launched by Batty on Valentines Day and it now live and available free on iTunes or Google Play.  

If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au In an emergency, call 000.

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