Margaret Eby
October 28, 2014 10:31 am

Here’s a tool that every woman in college should know about: Callisto, a new third-party app from nonprofit Sexual Health Innovations (SHI) that allows sexual assault victims to report an incident online. It’s a system that has a distinct advantage over other similar reporting devices because it was made using the direct input of sexual assault survivors.

The idea of Callisto is that it’s a reporting system separate from anything set up on-campus. Survivors of assault can fill out an online incident report and see a clear explanation of their options for reporting the case. It also provides access to other resources, like STD clinics nearby. Victims can either submit the report to an authority of their choosing or save it as a personal record. There’s also a setting where the report will be sent to authorities only if there’s another incident submitted with the same assailant.

What this does is give a clear layout of a victim’s options in the wake of traumatic assault. For schools using Callisto, they will be able to view, according to the site, “the aggregate number of records stored in their system, the aggregate number of unique sexual assault survivors and assailants, the percentage of those records that have been officially reported, and trends in assault and reporting over time.” Ultimately, this data could help schools to see how effective (or ineffective) their own reporting systems are, and help strategize methods to curtail sexual violence on campus, while still maintaining the privacy of victims.

According to SHI, less than 10% of college students who are sexually assaulted report the crime to local police, campus security, or other authorities. There a so many reasons why victims are hesitant to report an assault, including safety concerns, and not knowing where or how to begin the process. A system that makes reporting these incidents both easier and clearer might help remove the stigma of sexual assault, or at the very least, make the process slightly less scary.

“We want to be clear: This is by survivors, for survivors,” Sexual Health Innovations Founder Jessica Ladd told the Huffington Post, “and us understanding and having empathy for the trauma that survivors go through after a sexual assault and just how scary the reporting process is. . . .We want to make it very clear to survivors they control who it’s reported to and when.”

(Image via Christine Baker/Patriot News)

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