An estimated one in three women is sexually assaulted over her lifetime. If the woman (or girl) is able to access emergency medical assistance with the support of a rape crisis counselor advocate, the chances of her healing increase exponentially. Without appropriate medical or psychological care, she is more likely to suffer from physical, mental and emotional after-effects that prolong her suffering and impact not just her own quality of life and productivity, but that of her family and community.
For over 40 years, rape crisis centers around the world have provided emergency room advocacy for survivors of sexual violence, ensuring that they receive appropriate treatment and care to begin the healing process. However, in low-resource environments and socio-cultural contexts where the seriousness sexual assault is minimized, survivors are often confronted with hostile or uninformed health care workers who may be unwilling or unable to provide the basic emergency services that help prevent pregnancy, STIs and HIV.
In these cases, which are by far the global majority of rape cases, a rape crisis advocate would make a significant difference in the survivor’s ability to secure adequate care while helping to mitigate the incidence of trauma.
Within the best medical systems, local rape crisis centers offer face-to-face training that prepares new crisis counselors for volunteer service in local hospitals. But in many countries and cities, these trainings are not available and advocates are not present.
We are digitizing the training curriculum of the Pittsburgh Action against Rape coalition and other U.S. rape crisis centers to create a free Rape Crisis Counseling mobile app that will make it easier for women around the world to get the support they require. The app will be released into the Creative Commons and include:
- M-learning Rape Crisis Counselor training material for anyone interested in learning the skills to be of volunteer service in their community;
- In-hand resources (a script, essentially) that enable a colleague, family member or friend to advocate for a survivor of sexual assault to emergency medical services;
- In-hand resources for a survivor herself, so that women without access to advocates can be as empowered as possible on their own.
We are partnering with U.S. rape crisis centers and coalitions to transform their rape crisis counseling training course into an m-learning resource. We also have approval from the U.S. Department of Justice to adapt and use their training resources.
Women’s rights associations and human rights defenders from around the world, as well as a network of aid worker survivors of sexual assault, will review the content for its appropriateness in a variety of challenging use cases and environments.
To date, no mobile resources exist that support survivors and their advocates as they access what can be life-saving medical care. We’re going to change that.
On Sunday 14 February, a global day of action to end violence against women, we’re launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds to develop and translate the first Rape Crisis Counseling app for Android and iOS.
Join us in supporting rape survivors around the world on their road to recovery.
To get involved, email Elie Calhoun at firstname.lastname@example.org.