App allows victims to document assault

The Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence created the free app I’ve-Been-Violated to help sexual assault victims.

This app allows victims to have video evidence of the aftermath of the assault when they are ready to tell authorities, said Executive Director of ISCE Michael Lissack.

Eighty-five percent of sexual assault victims do not speak to the authorities in a timely manner, according to Lissack said this app helps those who fall into this category.

“You can’t do anything to help somebody who has been through the first trauma,” he said. “If they’re (not) ready to talk to authorities right away, they have unfortunately volunteered for a second trauma. The longer you wait, the more (the police) have to question you about why you waited and (if) your story changed, and that is traumatic.”

The app is an interesting way for survivors to tell their story, said Victim Service Coordinator Kaylie Pennington.

“I think the app is good in theory, but I am not sure about the confidentiality of the app or how it would be successful in court,” she said in an email.

Freshman Miranda Murray is a sexual assault survivor, and she said this app might ensure the police look into the case.

“I think that this gives cops and authorities less space to say, ‘You’re not valid,’” she said. “Evidence and rape kits are thrown away all the time, but I think this will make them be held accountable.”

Lissack said the video can be considered as evidence in a police investigation and in court, as long as the victim complies.

Pennington said she is interested in seeing how this app will work in court.

“I am not sure how it will work in the criminal justice system,” she said. “I would be interested in knowing the opinion of someone in the criminal justice system.”

Lissack said the app will ask the victim questions.

“The app will gently prompt you, ‘Who are you? Who did this to you? What happened? Tell your story. Is there anything you want to show the camera?’” he said.

Murray said the app is a powerful tool for survivors.

“I can tell you personally as a survivor that to have to sit there and look a real human being in the eyes right after it happened is one of the most horrific things,” she said. “It feels less dehumanizing to say it when no one is looking at you, or to say it to a phone.”

Lissack said the company chose to provide this help through cell phones, since they are a staple in society.

This app is part of college suite which includes three others, he said. The first app is We-Consent, which allows both partners to record themselves giving consent to sexual activities. The second is the What-About-No App which shows a police officer asking, “What about no do you not understand?” The app will also record the person. The final app is Party-Pass where a person makes a pledge of not engaging in sexual activity unless they have a discussion with their partner.

These apps are available for Apple devices, and will come to Android in May.

Lissack said he hopes to partner with college campuses. With this partnership, he can send personalized emails to victims with local resources.

Murray said victims should take care of themselves even if they do not use the app.

“If you have been sexually assaulted, it is your decision to come forward to the authorities,” she said. “What I would suggest is that you make sure you, as a person, are safe.”