App to prevent sexual assaults

'Circle of 6' app created by rape survivor


Statistics about rape in this country are unpleasant: every 2 minutes a woman is raped; 1 in 5 women will become a victim of sexual assault; 75 percent of assaults are committed by someone the woman knows; 38 percent are attacked by a man they thought was their friend.

Nancy Schwartzman says she was 24 and had just graduated college.

"My assault was acquaintance rape," she said.

Through healing, Schwartzman shared her story and realized she wasn't alone.

"I became really the receptacle for so many people's stories," she said.

Her experiences lead her to create Circle of 6, an app that allows women to stay connected with each other at all times and stay safe. It's an app aimed at stopping sexual assault.

"You choose six friends, type them in, and then its group messaging," she said.

The app's colors and designs make a call for help discreet. 

"When you don't have privacy or someone's looking, you're kind of safe to reach out without being super obvious about it," Schwartzman said.

There are three main functions, including GPS. There's also the call-and-interrupt-me function, nicknamed the bad date button. And there's a section with hotlines to address dating violence.

"So it kind of breaks the silence around that issue without being too aggressive about it," she said.

Schwartzman says there are nearly 100,000 users in 32 countries, and the app is free.

Circle of 6 is the winner of the White House's "Apps against Abuse" Technology Challenge.

You can download the app for free at www.circleof6app.com.

Additional Information:

One in five young women report being sexually assaulted while in college.  The reasons why include a variety of social, situational, and cultural factors.  The mix of alcohol, personal responsibility, and peer pressure can often create a situation in which young females are targeted for sexual abuse at parties.  (Source: http://appsagainstabuse.challengepost.com)

Schools Fail to Act: Sometimes, even after an assault has occurred, schools do not act against the perpetrators.  For example, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student Landen Gambill was threatened with expulsion by the school's honor court after speaking out against the university's handling over an alleged rape.  Her charges were later dropped, but later a Department of Education investigation eventually found there were problems with the honor court system at the University.  This is an example of one of the systemic barriers victims of sexual assault face.  (Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/07/unc-investigation-retaliation_n_3555886.html)

Victim-Blaming: Victim-blaming is one of the ways abusers hold power over their victims.  By constantly blaming the victim for the abuse they receive, abusers maintain power and absolve themselves of any responsibility.  Unfortunately, victim-blaming is already a fairly prevalent part of American culture.  Challenging the abuser on their claims, disagreeing on their reasons why they abuse, and avoiding victim-blaming in the media are all ways to get abusers to stop victim-blaming. (Source: http://stoprelationshipabuse.org/educated/avoiding-victim-blaming/)