Circle of 6 Anti-Violence App Builds Upon Friendship and Texting

Filed in: Mobile, Safety

Filed by Christine Cupaiuolo


4.4.12 | Last year, the White House sponsored the Apps Against Abuse technology challenge, a national competition to develop apps that provide young adults with tools to help prevent sexual assault and dating violence.

One of the winners, Circle of 6 iPhone App, recently launched, and today its creators are hosting a National Download Day to increase awareness among colleges, advocates and teenagers. It’s available for download on iTunes; versions are under development for Android and Blackberry.

The Circle of 6 iPhone App gives users the tools to connect to friends or emergency hotline numbers—quickly and privately. Once users download the app, they can add six trusted contacts from their address book, creating their personal Circle of 6.

The app sends out three pre-programmed SMS messages with two quick taps. Select the car icon, and the message “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely” is ready to send, along with GPS coordinates. Tap the telephone, and up comes the message “Call me and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.”

A third icon, a speech bubble, activates “I’m looking up information about healthy relationships and respect. Just letting you know.” It keeps the circle informed without asking for immediate action and connects the user to such websites as Love is Respect and Where is Your Line.

For critical situations, there’s an exclamation point that connects to pre-programmed national hotlines, or the user can customize a local emergency number, such as campus police.

A Pew Internet survey found that texting has increased among teenagers in the past two years. The median teen (age 12-17) text user now sends 60 texts per day. Older teen girls are the most enthusiastic texters—they had a median of 100 texts a day in 2011, compared with 50 for boys the same age.

That high level of usage was a determining factor for the Circle of 6 app developers.

“College students today live on their mobile phones, and they move in tight-knit online and offline social networks,” Nancy Schwartzman, Circle of 6 co-creator and executive director of The Line Campaign, Inc., said in a statement. “Circle of 6 is a tool that meets young people where they are and offers concrete strategies for supporting each other, whether safety threats are coming from intimate relationships or potentially dangerous social situations.”

The app evolved from conversations with college students on how consent, dating culture, and rape affect their lives and the strategies that have proven most effective in preventing violence.

“Talking about sexual violence can be very difficult. As a health educator, I’ve seen that it’s often easier for people to reach out for help from behind a screen,” said co-creator Deb Levine, executive director and founder of Internet Sexuality Information Services (ISIS). “Circle of 6 offers a free way to stay safe and support your campus community, with the ease of a few clicks on a smart phone.”

Other co-creators include designer Thomas Cabus and app developer Christine Corbett Moran.

During a Twitter chat today sponsored by the Women’s Media Center (hashtag #sheparty), @thelinecampaign said, “we wanted to make @Circleof6app really easy—no fumbling for phone, keys, contacts, finding right words, etc.”

We’ll link to the Storify featuring more tweets and discussion from the Circle of 6 #sheparty talk once it’s posted.


Picture of Nancy Schwartzman
Nancy Schwartzman (Brooklyn)


Thanks so much for covering the App! It was fun to have you on the tweet up yesterday, and to hear from so many users. Storify post is coming soon!


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