Survivors of domestic violence are getting extra layers of protection thanks to a local technology development company.
The OhanaLink Purple app is now live and helps link domestic violence victims with the agencies assisting them.
“It provides privacy and security,” said Kara Wasser, chief executive officer and founder of OhanaLink Technologies, which is based in Hermitage.
The idea for the cloud-based app started with Lizette Olsen, executive director of Mercer County AWARE, which handles domestic and sexual violence situations.
Olsen was looking for a way improve connections between AWARE and its clients while also keeping the information confidential, especially since domestic violence incidents have been on the rise during the pandemic, Wasser said.
OhanaLink was able to build upon its existing healthcare communication app, which acts like a virtual waiting room, Wasser said
For example, cancer patients can register with the app and share their information with friends and family who want to help out with things like doctors’ appointments and treatments.
The app, which can be accessed via smartphone and tablet, can also track pregnancies and kids’ milestones, and store photos.
OhanaLink Purple — the color represents domestic violence awareness — allows victims to contact agencies like AWARE, search for resources, track appointments, keep a log of domestic violence incidents, and learn more about local services like housing, food assistance and transportation.
The app is free for individual users and it’s undiscoverable and untraceable once downloaded. Also, OhanaLink does not look at the victims’ data.
“Abusers often look at everything that’s on their phone,” Wasser said of the extra safeguards.
Wasser, who supports a loved one who is a domestic violence survivor, is really excited about the collaboration and the potential to help those who might be afraid to pick up the phone or seek assistance in person.
Survivors can also electronically sign documents in the app, which is more efficient and safer than the paperwork being handled in person.
“That in itself is a huge weight lifted,” she said.
On Tuesday, OhanaLink held a panel discussion, “How Game-Changing Mobile Technology Aids Agencies and Victims of Domestic Violence,” at its headquarters at the eCenter in the LindenPointe innovation park to highlight the app’s features and explain its resources for individuals and agencies.
Olsen and Wasser were on the panel along with Michelle Gibb, executive director of the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center in Tarentum; Gary Hinkson, city manager of Hermitage; and Judy Radkowski, director of community and donor engagement for the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.
It was a great opportunity to share more details about the app, which launched in early April, Wasser said.
The agencies are seeking funding to cover their subscription costs, and Wasser would love to find a national sponsor to cover those fees.
OhanaLink has been working with other domestic violence agencies in western Pennsylvania, and Wasser hopes this app helps remove some of the stigma and barriers to asking for help.
For more information about OhanaLink Technologies, visit www.ohanalink.tech or the company’s Facebook page, or call 844-394-4398 or email firstname.lastname@example.org