How this tiny device that clips onto your belt loop could save you from an assault

IndieGoGo has enabled people to raise money for thousands of causes, from encouraging young girls to get involved in tech to funding the creation of Super Troopers 2. But one IndieGoGo campaign is getting a ton of attention for an amazing reason: It could save millions from being assaulted.

Roar for Good is a company dedicated to preventing physical assault, and their first project, entitled Athena, may do exactly that. Named after the Greek goddess of wisdom and courage, Athena is a tiny, inconspicuous device that comes in three colors (black, silver, and rose gold) and can clip onto a belt or lapel. When pressed for three seconds or longer, it will emit a loud alarm sound while sending a text of your location to your emergency contacts. (You can also change its settings so only an alert is sent without an alarm sound.)

It’s intended to not only force your attacker away to prevent physical and sexual assault before it happens, but to help get you to safety ASAP, whether the attacker is a stranger or not (after all, according to RAINN, four out of five rapes are committed by someone whom the victim knows).

“We found that women don’t like the self-defense tools that are out there,” 34-year-old Roar cofounder Yasmine Mustafa told Fast Company. “They’re too hard to use. They’re afraid they’ll use them against themselves. They don’t want to be in hand-to-hand combat in the first place.”

On top of this, Athena won’t be confiscated at airports like pepper spray and taser might, as it can’t be used as a weapon. It’s also versatile — it can be worn as a necklace or as a clip on your belt, for example. “We took a self defense class and we found out that the worst place to wear a safety device is on your wrist, because you only have one hand to activate it,” Mustafa told Mashable. “That’s why we designed ours so it’s not a bracelet. You can wear it in a couple different ways.”

Mustafa said the initial inspiration came to her when she was on a solo backpacking trip in South Africa. “As amazing as [the trip] was. . . literally everywhere I went I would hear of a time where a woman had been attacked,” she told Mashable. And then, when she returned, she found out her neighbor had been attacked and sexually assaulted. “When I read the news story the next day, that’s when the idea for ROAR was born,” she explained.

Users can also use Athena to report “trouble spots,” such as an intersection where street harassment happens more often, so others can be warned of possible trouble ahead and perhaps take another route.

Athena, which surpassed its goal of $40,000 on IndieGoGo in just 48 hours, has raised over $166,000 dollars by over 1,353 backers, and it’s now expected to be available all over the world starting in May 2016 for just $99. 10% of the proceeds will be donated to the One Love Foundation, aimed to educate students about relationship violence and abuse.

“We don’t want to just put a band-aid on the problem of violence against women,” Roar co-founder Anthony Gold told Fast Company. “We want to get to the root causes. And by partnering with organizations that are focused on teaching young boys—and girls—about empathy, respect, and consent, we know the positive change can result.”

Gold and Mustafa have been blown away by the attention and support Athena has received. It’s been preordered in over 20 countries around the world. “Not a week goes by where someone doesn’t reach out to share their story and tell us how much of a need there is for something like this,” Gold told MTV News. “It’s very a humbling responsibility we have. It’s not about getting thousands to preorder. It’s about touching the lives of thousands of people.”

If you want to pre-order Athena (at $24 less than its retail price!) while supporting Roar’s efforts at the same time, you can do so on the IndieGoGo page. “The whole idea is to take ownership of yourself and empower yourself,” Mustafa told Mashable. “It’s about empowering women to live a life without fear.”


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(Image via Twitter.)