High-tech help for abuse victims

Abuse comes in many forms – and whether it’s physical, emotional, verbal or sexual – it leaves lasting scars on its victims.

And the numbers are staggering on a global scale: one in three women and one in six men suffer some sort of abuse.

Having worked in the entertainment and technology industries for over 20 years, Tess Cacciatore saw how technology and media could be used as tools to inspire communication and healing for people dealing with different issues. So she co-founded the Global Women’s Empowerment Network to do just that.

On her website, GWENNetwork.org, Cacciatore and her team have put together a technology platform of empowerment curriculum, with the help of empowerment leaders around the world to help victims of abuse connect with one another and share their stories.

And now, they’re going high-tech with their efforts.

“We have a phone app that’s out right now that’s called the GWEN alert,” Cacciatore told FoxNews.com. “You can load up to five of your closest family and friends, and if you’re ever in an emergency, you click one button and it sends out a preset text message saying, ‘I'm in an emergency I need your help’ – and it gives a GPS location to assist them in finding you.”

Cacciatore noted that the app is not connected with the 9-1-1 emergency system and that it should not be used in place of calling during a situation that needs immediate medical or legal intervention.  However, she said that it has worked well for some users in certain situations.

“A 10-year-old girl, after school, her parents got mixed up on who was picking her up that day; she got nervous about the people who were standing around her, so she clicked the phone app and three of her five people, including her mom, came to get her,” Cacciatore explained.  “There’s another woman that used it in the sense that she was feeling like her husband was ready to approach her and be violent again, and she clicked it – and her five friends were alerted.”

The GWEN Network also offers a place for victims of abuse to make and upload a video diary through their “Tell Us Your Story” campaign on their website.

“I feel like everyone needs to tell their story; it begins the healing process,” said Cacciatore. “It’s a cloud-based editing system on our site, so there’s no software to download.  You just get on there, you click a camera on your computer or upload your footage from another camera, and you can quickly edit it and tell your story.”

For more information, log on to www.GWENNetwork.org.