A new app aids campus sexual assault victims

A New York City-based company called Capptivation has created a smartphone app, Reached Out Editions. The app aims to empower student survivors of sexual assault or misconduct with information about their possible options for support.

Since the summer of 2014, the app was designed to be supportive and accommodative to all college students in use of it, especially by characterizing all users as anonymous. Once the campus the user is attending is submitted, the app offer specific information, options and resource for that campus.

There have been recent news regarding sexual assault, like President Trump designating April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the new Georgia Bill, HB 51, that was passed that protects males accused of sexual assault by allotting the investigation to law enforcement and inhibits the educational institute’s own investigation. It doesn’t allow schools to establish disciplinary actions toward the accused assaulter.

With this app victims can regain control and safety for themselves. The app gives them options, safe zones, resources and information that will put the power back into their hands, instead of the school’s or the law enforcement’s.

One of Capptivation’s partners, Jack Zandi, gives insight as to why the app was so crucial to create and why it is the step in the right direction for sexual assault awareness.

Within the app

The idea for the app was thought up when Zandi and his three friends, Billy Sadik-Khan, Racquel Giner and Zach Csillag, were in high school. They were conscious of the media coverage on sexual misconduct that was occurring at the time, and thought that it was important for them to bring the issue up in their everyday, personal conversations.

“We discussed things like our own experiences with sexual misconduct at our own colleges; if we had known anybody, what exactly the right thing to do is if someone tells you they’ve been assaulted; what resources are available to you, etc. We all came up with different answers, realized that we couldn’t possibly be the only people looking for this information,” Zandi said.

They realized that the best way to do that was by bringing the issue to the tool that all young adults treasure, their phones. They knew smartphones would be the most efficient method to spreading awareness and aid to college individuals, especially since the app utilizes location service to reach schools across the country.

“It takes survivors step-by-step through the myriad processes involved in the aftermath of the assault, whether they need help navigating the medical system, the adjudication system at their college, or the criminal justice system,” Zandi said. “CappMail, one of our Value Added Features, enables survivors to anonymously message various resources and acquire information while still maintaining their privacy to the utmost, in case they aren’t ready to approach a resource in person.”

When the app was initially created, it was mainly aimed specifically toward colleges, but the team soon realized that the issue of sexual misconduct was prevalent in all levels of education. Their hope for the future is to develop the app in a grander scale, an international scale.

“The way we built the app’s architecture, we’re aren’t just limited to helping survivors of sexual misconduct on US colleges, but we can help any specific population with every type of problem that has resources, information and education, both in our country and on an International level,” Zandi said.

They still have ways to go to be able to reach the cause to the screens of all young adults, but, for the team, the most important aspect now is to promote the current app. With promoting the app, they promote awareness.

“If more people know that there is a problem, and if more people know that there are tools to help them through the troubled process in a more accessible way, then through awareness, people are more likely to be able to help themselves, as well as members in their community,” Zandi said.

A victim’s relief

“A family friend, who is a physician, up sed the app for one of his patients who came into his clinic looking for help after being assaulted,” Zandi said.

This was just one incident where the app proved to be a helpful tool, and although the team doesn’t receive feedback from individuals who have used the app frequently, they know that the subject is a touchy matter and just hope that those using it are satisfied with its delivery.

They want those that have been subjected to the degradation and hurt of being targeted and being taken advantage of to realize that this tool will help guide them through the difficult journey. Their aim is to have the app act as a helping hand to those that need it.

“It was important to help survivors because we felt that it was a massive population of people that was/is facing a tremendous epidemic, and were not receiving the resources that appropriate to their problem,” Zandi said. “If they get the help, they might be more willing to report, and if there is a higher chance they report, more bad people will get caught, and the more that get caught, the fewer total assaults there will be.”

The team has educated themselves on the issue by getting involved with Rape Crisis Centers and advocates across the country. Along with that, they have been contacting schools to have the app be utilized among the students.

“This allows the students to have a better understanding of one of the best resources they can access, and it gives us an opportunity to both improve the app by working with seasoned professionals, as well as establishing a potential relationship with the school that the advocates most closely work with,” Zandi said.

They want students, like the students at Georgia State, to realize that they do have options and they do have power of their decisions. They also knew that there needs to be be a more effective and relatable fight for the cause of sexual assault, because with that, prevention will take flight.

“It’s hard to fight a battle against an enemy you don’t know is there. Even if the month encourages just one person to become a bystander in an uncomfortable situation at a bar, or a party, and potentially averting a sexual assault, then the whole process is worth it,” Zandi said.

Help centers & resources for Georgia State sexual assault victims

  • Victim Assistance Center: This is for students who have experienced sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. It is entirely confidential. It will also provide methods for students who have recently been victimized that help regain control in social, academic and personal aspects in life. To speak with Student Victim Assistance staff, please call 404-413-1965.
  • Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault (GNESA): This website provides Rape Crisis Centers in one’s area by displaying a map. It also informs people with sexual assault victims, how to get active by donating or volunteering and offers training classes for campuses around Georgia. Visit www.gnesa.org


Campus sexual assault statistics

According to  www.nsvrc.org

  • “Among college women, 9 in 10 victims of rape and sexual assault knew their offender.”
  • “It is estimated that the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions may be between 20 percent and 25 percent over the course of a college career.”
  • “Almost 12.8 percent of completed rapes, 35 percent of attempted rapes, and 22.9 percent of threatened rapes happened during a date.”
  • “It is estimated that for every 1,000 women attending a college or university, there are 35 incidents of rape each academic year.”
  • “Many women (88 percent) have never consumed a drink left unattended or consumed a drink given to them by a stranger (76 percent).”