homeaboutarchives + tagsshopmembership!
aboutarchivesshopmembership!
aboutarchivesmembers!

kottke.org posts about Amanda Southworth

Verena, an iOS app to help protect people in abusive situations

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 30, 2018

Verena

Verena is an iOS app designed to protect and help guide you through situations like “domestic violence, hate crimes, abuse, and bullying”. The app was developed with the LGBTQ+ community in mind, but can be used by anyone facing abuse or harassment.

Create an account, and develop a network of emergency contacts, who can be alerted without leaving a trace on your phone.

Use the emergency feature to be guided through your problem, giving you the resources you need to get out of the emergency safely.

Create incident logs to keep track of abuse, hate crimes, or bullying for reference and later reportation.

Select the preferences that match your situation, such as using incognito mode to hide the app behind a math user interface, shutdown which can permanently disable the app if found by an abuser, and emergency access which allows you to alert all of your contacts with the press of a button.

Open resources to find and get routed to hospitals, shelters, and police stations near you.

Use timer to set a specified amount of time. If the timer isn’t canceled, Verena will send an emergency alert to all contacts with your last known location.

Select location to see your current location, the distance between you and your different contacts, and get routed to them as well.

Verena was built by Amanda Southworth, a 16-year-old iOS developer who created the app to help her LGBTQ+ friends in the aftermath of the election of a known abuser to the White House in 2016:

Seeing her friends — many of whom are part of the LGBT community — worry the day after the presidential election in November 2016 inspired her to create the app. “That day I saw all of my friends crying and it was really upsetting, you know, when people you love are scared,” she says. “So I decided, I’m going to make something so that I know they’re safe.”

Verena, which takes its name from a German name that means “protector,” allows users to find police stations, hospitals, shelters, and other places of refuge in times of need. They can also designate a list of contacts to be alerted via the app in an emergency.

Southworth, whose first iOS app was a “mental health toolkit” called anxietyhelper, attended Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this past summer and wrote about it for Teen Vogue. She also gave a TEDx talk about “how her struggle with mental illness and suicidal thoughts inspired her start coding”.