KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — A tool for Mainers trying to break free from domestic abuse and other crisis situations, including human trafficking and suicide, is now a nationwide platform. The "Safe House" app provides helpline information and resources with just a few taps. It's now available in the Apple App Store and Google Play for people in all 50 states.
Domestic violence survivor Eliza Conley-Lepene launched the free app last fall to make finding help in your local area easier during a time of crisis. Besides an emergency icon to call 911, Safe House has icons for different areas of crisis including domestic violence, elder and child abuse, sexual assault, suicide, and human trafficking. Helplines, counseling, and legal resources are listed for all 16 Maine counties.
"It is an empowering tool for someone who is suffering in silence," Conley-Lepene said.
Kerry Bowman, a domestic abuse survivor, serves as a vice president for the nonprofit yoursaferplace.org, which was established to raise money to support and run the free platform.
"I know how exactly how overwhelmed I felt at the police station and I was handed a pamphlet and how much easier it might have been if I had an app at my fingertips," Bowman said.
Bowman is also a pharmacist who works at the Northern New England Poison Center, which she said has seen a drastic increase in teenagers, mostly girls, attempting to hurt themselves, possibly due to isolation and stress during the pandemic.
"It overlaps," Bowman said. "Suicide affects so many people, elder abuse affects so many people, child abuse affects so many people."
Conley-Lepene, who is a massage therapist and owns a spa, plans in the near future to launch another platform, the "Safe House Recovery" app, nationwide. It will provide listings of helplines, counseling, and other information about substance use disorder and addiction issues.
The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence provides statewide advocacy and trains nine partner agencies, which provide direct services such as helplines, locating shelters, and offering legal support.