Callisto Aims to Combat Campus Sexual Assault

According to a recent study by the Association of American Universities, more than one-in-four undergraduate women reported that they had been sexually assaulted on campus. More than three-fourths of these survivors did not report their assault to an authority.

While the United States Congress works with colleges and universities to address the issue of campus sexual assault, Sexual Health Innovations has decided to develop a digital solution to help survivors understand their options and report their assault.

The New York Times published an article this week which highlighted this new, digital way to give women more options: Callisto. The online program is designed to be a “confidential reporting experience for college sexual assault survivors.” The site allows users to fill out a detailed, time-stamped report about their assault, including when and where it took place, what happened, and who was involved, as well as whether or not the victim has any physical evidence.

The key features of Callisto are its options for reporting sexual assault, if the survivor chooses. Users can choose to report to their school directly through the platform or to report anonymously to the school’s Title IX Coordinator. The most significant option is the matching feature. Using Facebook URLs for identification, students can choose to report their sexual assault only if someone else reports the same perpetrator. This can help reduce the fear of social repercussions for reporting a known assailant. Opponents to the matching feature fear that it promotes that attitude that women must have another person to verify their story in order to be believed.

In an age when many are more comfortable in front of a screen than talking to another face, Callisto believes that users will be more likely to document a sexual assault right away through a third party application than they would be to report to authorities. Callisto also explains the process of what will happen after reporting an assault, helping to alleviate survivor anxieties about the reporting process.

Do you think taking the reporting of sexual assault into the digital sphere will help? Could Callisto encourage women to report an assault to their college or university? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter.

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