Locally designed app helps in fight against domestic violence



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A recent study found disturbing rates of domestic violence in Orange County with one person killed every two weeks.

But a mobile app designed in central Florida is earning global honors, giving doctors an easy way to find potential victims long before it's too late.

At the core of Orange County's efforts to end domestic abuse is the free mobile app called R3.

The name refers to its mission: recognize, respond and refer.

The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine mentioned the app in a story recommending doctors screen women older than 12 for signs of intimate partner violence with one study finding the R3 app is 91 percent effective in identifying abusive relationships.

"Most people say that if they're going to talk about domestic abuse and being in an abusive relationship, the one person they want to tell is their doctor," said Harbor House CEO Carol Wick.

The app has four questions users can answer in total privacy or in the company of a friend or a doctor.

Orange County Health Department director Kevin Sherin designed the questions and an Orlando tech firm created the app, taking a person's answers and calculating their risk.

"It just says, 'This is an abusive relationship,' and then what the app does, is we expand on that and tell them what to do," said Wick.

A recent study found fewer than 10 percent of women have ever had a health care professional ask them questions about domestic violence.

But the R3 app could change that. It's already been downloaded 1,700 times by women in every continent on earth.

Creators of the app hope the worldwide recognition it's gotten will help get it to people who might be helped.