This month’s Take Charge of Your Health topic affects people in every walk of life, at every age. Hopefully, when we are young, we learn what it means to have healthy relationships. We learn from those who care for us as children. As adults, we model the behavior that was demonstrated to us. If we witness, or are a victim of, emotional, physical, verbal or psychological abuse, it can affect our physical, mental and spiritual health.
While intimate partner violence (IPV) varies by community (as other articles on this page point out), studies show that rates of IPV are highest in the most socially and economically disadvantaged communities for both white and Black men and women. However, especially in Pittsburgh, we know it is our African American brothers and sisters who reside in these neighborhoods who have historically been—and continue to be—cut off from services. As the COVID-19 pandemic prompted many service providers to create virtual access points, access to the internet helped reduce barriers to services.
Within Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities, there is help available. Many of these resources can be tapped into from your smart phone or landline.
The Women’s Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh developed an app called RUSafe. The app (available for Android and Apple users) is based on the Danger Assessment system (created at The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and draws on the lives and experiences of hundreds of survivors of domestic abuse). The assessment helps determine the level of danger faced by a person being abused. By answering a few questions about the relationship, RUSafe helps people understand the possible threats they or loved ones may face and connects them using GPS technology with nearby emergency shelters and domestic violence hotlines.
For additional information about the app, visit the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh’s website and type “RUSafe” in the search box on the upper right-hand corner. This tool alone can save your life or the life of a loved one. Anyone who might be in danger or in an escalating IPV situation can benefit from having the app on their phone.
Additionally, the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has a list of 24/7 hotlines that are available to call if you need to escape or report an abusive situation (https://pittsburghpa.gov/police/domestic-violence-resource-guide).
The best thing you can do for yourself is to do what you can to build a strong support system. Likewise, the best you can do for others is to be the strong support system that they may desperately need. Taking charge of your health begins with empowering yourself with knowledge and tools.
Esther L. Bush, President and CEO
Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh