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25th Jun 2019

Domestic abuse survivor Emma Murphy says new app will empower women to leave violent relationships

Jade Hayden

emma murphy

“Without social media I wouldn’t have posted my story so I don’t know where I’d be.”

In 2015, Emma Murphy shared a video to Facebook that changed her life.

In it, she spoke candidly about her partner’s infidelity, her decision to confront him, and his violent reaction that left her with a black eye.

“He punched me in the face,” she said in the post. “And it wasn’t the first time.”

Murphy posted the video on her own timeline, but it wasn’t long before the footage detailing her abuse – as well as her own strength and courage – was shared far and wide.

A few years later and technology is still helping victims of domestic abuse in Ireland recognise violent behaviour. It’s also providing them with the tools to protect themselves, pointing them in the direction of resources that may not have been there a decade ago.

One such tool is an app called Bright Sky – a new resource launched by Vodafone to empower and support victims of domestic abuse.

The app provides details about abusive relationships, allowing users to take a questionnaire that will determine if they are in danger or not.

It supplies information about relevant support services, as well as the ability to log incidents of domestic abuse without any content being saved on the device itself.

With the support of Hestia, Women’s Aid and An Garda Síochána, Bright Sky hopes to provide a space for women to feel more comfortable reporting incidences of violence – an issue that Murphy has direct experience of herself.

“Without social media I wouldn’t have posted my story so I don’t know where I’d be,” she says.

“Women often have trouble picking up the phone and calling a national helpline, especially women who have children because they’re afraid they’ll be taken off them.

“This app is going to empower women, it’s going to safeguard them, and provide them with the necessary tools so they can find the courage to leave that relationship.”

Murphy says that the constant development of technology is giving people the ability to recognise signs of risk in a relationship, as well as the confidence to eventually leave.

Now, picking up the phone isn’t the only option. Education is also coming from new resources like apps such as Bright Sky – and the many, many survivors who are speaking out about their experiences on social media every day.

“It’s giving people confidence,” says Murphy. “It’s giving them the insider knowledge to basically educate themselves on what an abusive relationship is, how to know the signs to look out for, and how to protect themselves.”

Murphy points to technology as a key player in Ireland’s shifting attitudes towards domestic abuse, but she also credits the Domestic Violence Act for further safeguarding women in all kinds of relationships.

The law made coercive control a criminal offence, by recognising that psychological and emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse, causing serious distress, anxiety, or fear.

It also made it easier for those experiencing domestic abuse in dating relationships to avail of protection within the court system.

“More women are speaking out, but more men are speaking out too which is absolutely brilliant,” says Murphy. “There’s also a lot more younger advocates campaigning against violence against women.

“There’s a lot more to be done, but the attention we’re now paying to domestic abuse is making it that bit easier.”

You can find out more about the Bright Sky app here. 

The app will go live on Friday, June 28.