A mobile app is working to help Illinois State University students who have survived sexual assault.
Reach Out Editions, a free and anonymous smartphone resource guide launched by Capptivation in July 2016, seeks to streamline the process of finding medical care, exploring reporting options following sexual misconduct and accessing resources and information.
One of the app creators and a partner at Capptivation Jack Zandi said the app was created to help empower student survivors of sexual misconduct with information about their options for support both on and off campus.
“We created … it in order to help colleges promote campus environments that are safe for all students, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status or citizenship,” Zandi said.
“Reach Out Editions has expanded our reach beyond the realm of college campuses to include prep school, high school, and military environments and beyond sexual misconduct to address a number of issues faced by people, including depression and anxiety, eating disorders [and] academic support,” he said.
The app offers support for faculty and staff members as well.
“People can find the resources they need to contact, anonymously contact various resources and are given total control of their experience using only one interface,” Zandi said.
“Because the app totally preserves anonymity, it provides opportunities to build trust between survivors and the resources,” he said. “This is important because survivors are more likely to utilize these resources when they feel safe and trust that they can maintain their privacy in its totality.”
ISU’s Violence Prevention and Peer Education Coordinator Amanda Papinchock said it is important for all students to learn about and discuss sexual assault.
“A safe campus environment is one in which students, faculty and staff are free to conduct their daily affairs, both inside and outside the classroom, without fear of physical, emotional or psychological harm,” Papinchock said. “Sexual violence, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence and stalking are some of the country’s most serious public health problems."
"When people better understand the nature and extent of these problems, they will use that knowledge to strengthen and support efforts to prevent violence before it ever occurs,” she said.
Zandi said the last thing a survivor needs is to struggle to find information in time-sensitive periods.
“Our belief is that if we can eliminate the inconveniences a survivor would normally have to deal with, then there is a much higher likelihood that they will get help they need, and if they are able to do that, then the odds are they will be more likely to report,” Zandi said.
Zandi added that he and the app co-creators, Racquel Giner, Billy Sadik-Khan, Zach Csillag and Sarah Zandi, hope to bring awareness to campuses across the country.
“We were astounded by the fact that one in four women, one in four trans people, and one in sixteen men on college campuses will be assaulted by the time they graduate, and we recognized the need to provide resources not only in the aftermath of sexual misconduct, but preventative solutions as well,” Zandi said. “We hope that by bringing awareness of the app to campus, that we can help survivors and friends and family members of survivors because through the app, they will be able to access crucial information, in a more easy and intuitive fashion.”
The app is free and available for all smart phones on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.