iPhone app combats teen dating abuse

A number of NGOs, activists and Liz Claiborne reps recently announced the launch of Love Is Not Abuse. This unique iPhone app is designed to help parents and kids end the scourge of dating abuse and teen violence.

Currently available for free in the iTunes Store, the app arrives just days after a rather disturbing study on dating abuse was published.

According to the study’s lead researcher Emily Rothman, Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), parents in the U.S. are much less likely to talk with their teenagers about the dangers of dating abuse than sex, drugs or alcohol.

The study appears in the this month’s issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health and it’s the first to guesstimate the number of U.S. parents who have discussed dating abuse in the past year with their children.


Unfortunately, teen dating abuse can lead to injury, death and mental health problems including suicidal thoughts, substance use, loss of appetite and depression.

Yet, almost 10% of U.S. high school students have reportedly been deliberately hit, slapped or physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend over the past year.


Rothman said one of the most important conclusions from the study is that “parents [clearly] need more and better information about dating abuse, including how important it is to raise this issue with their children, just like they are already doing when it comes to sex, drugs and drinking.”


The app’s design includes key resources so parents do not have to engage in intensive searching to find help. It provides parents with key facts on dating abuse and helps them determine if their child is in an abusive relationship, while offering helpful guidelines on how to discuss the sensitive issue once they’ve identified it.

The app also ofers parents a chance to see what it’s like to be a victim of digital dating abuse, by mimicking the types of messages abused teens typically receive in their inboxes. As in real life, the simulated messages become increasingly more threatening to drive the point home.

It uses the cycle of abuse to teach parents about destructive behaviors that are common in digitally abusive relationships such as privacy invasion, deleting a partner’s friends on social networks and unauthorized access to a boyfriend or girlfriend’s social networks.


“One of the foremost challenges in dating abuse is understanding that using power and control over a dating partner often goes beyond physical violence,” said Cindy Southworth, founder of the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Safety Net Technology Project and app expert contributor.

“When parents know concrete examples of what can constitute dating abuse, they are better-equipped to support their children. This app is an important tool that works to end dating violence by shining the light on it in all of its nuances.”


The app was coded by Charles Kliment, Founder and Principal Designer, KAJA circle and Eric Mansfield and Chris Mollis, Co-Founders and Principal Software Engineers, AppsOnTheSide.

You can find the interesting Love Is Not Abuse app/abuse simulation, in the iTunes App Store here.