The latest tools for sexual assault victims: Smartphone apps and software

Peter Holley at the Washington Post:  “…For much of the past decade, dozens of apps and websites have been created to help survivors of sexual assault electronically record and report such crimes. They are designed to assist an enormous pool of potential victims. The Rape Abuse & Incest National Network reports that more than 11 percent of all college students — both graduate and undergraduate — experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. Despite the prevalence of such incidents, less than 10 percent of victims on college campuses report their assaults, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

The apps range from electronic reporting tools such as JDoe to legal guides that provide victims with access to law enforcement and crisis counseling. Others help victims save and share relevant medical information in case of an assault. The app Uask includes a “panic button” that connects users with 911 or allows them to send emergency messages to people with their location.


Since its debut in 2015, Callisto’s software has been adopted by 12 college campuses — including Stanford, the University of Oregon and St. John’s University — and made available to more than 160,000 students, according to the company. Sexual assault survivors who visit Callisto are six times as likely to report, and 15 percent of those survivors have matched with another victim of the same assailant, the company claims.

Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the Wharton School and director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, told NPR that he sees potential problems with survivors “crowdsourcing” their decision to report assaults.

“I don’t think we want to have a standard where the decisions are crowdsourced,” he said. “I think what you want is to tell people [that] the criteria [for whether or not to report] are policy related, not personally related, and you should bring forward anything that fits the criteria, not [based on] whether you feel enough other people have made the complaint or not. We want to sometimes encourage people to do things they might feel uncomfortable about.”…(More)”.