Although sexual assault is a prevalent problem today, it isn't talked about enough. Many sexual assault victims don’t speak up because either they are too afraid to or they don’t know that what happened to them should not be tolerated. With the severity of this problem in mind, we, as students, wanted to change this. Being teenagers in this era, we’ve seen the Me Too Movement come to life and sexual assault/harassment develop as a worldwide problem, and we wanted to work towards solving and ultimately eliminating this issue.
We also wanted to address this problem because this is an issue that has affected us and/or people we know. For one teammate, this idea was eye opening. For the longest time, she didn’t speak about her experience or talk about the problem. For the longest time, she didn’t know that it was a real, defined problem. It wasn’t until she started working on this app that she was able to understand that she had been sexually harassed.
It’s stories like this that inspired us to spark more conversation about sexual assault, so that everyone can be more aware of the magnitude of the problem.
'#MeToo' serves as a tool to provide victims with social support, general information and guidance to help them as they move forward. There are three main components to the app: a Questionnaire, a Get help option and a Diary option.
The Questionnaire has the user answer a series of questions about their experiences. After answering the questions, the user will receive an explanation of what their experience could be classified as (ex. Sexual Assault, Coercion, etc.), as well as steps they can take to help them as they move forward.
The Get Help option provides the user with a list of hotlines they can call or text if they need more support.
Finally, the Diary allows the user to note down an incident and their description of it. They can then re-access their description of an incident at any later date. Including this page serves not only to keep a continuous log to benefit the victim but also for documentation purposes. There was one case between a sexual assault victim and their perpetrator where the only reason that the perpetrator was incriminated was because she kept a diary that contained all the incidents that had happened to her.
We feel that our solution is unique mainly because of our Questionnaire function. Having this easy to follow questionnaire be able to classify these negative experiences is so important, yet something that we couldn’t find until we created it. Many victims of sexual harassment/assault don’t realize that what they have gone through has a name, but we realized that giving a name to this problem is important. This helps the user understand that what is happening to them IS categorized as sexual harassment.
Our intended user base is anyone who is or might suspect that they are a possible a victim of sexual harassment/assault. Regardless of age, sexuality, race, gender, or other factors, this is an issue that can affect any person. To reflect this idea our app was made to be inclusive.
One challenge was the platform we had to use to create our app. We didn’t have much experience using MIT App Inventor, and getting used to the program for our app took a while, but through countless youtube videos and tutorials we got there.
Another challenge was figuring out how to approach this vast problem. For us, the issue wasn’t finding a problem to solve, but rather figuring out how our app would solve this problem. We knew one of the biggest complications of sexual abuse/assault was that many did not go to the authorities because they were not informed of the situation they were in (ex. severity, what it was, etc.). We knew that the situation was different for each and every person, and for our app to tackle this problem, we eventually decided on making a questionnaire that would help identify the user’s situation. Based on what the user answers, the app outputs a screen specific to the user’s situation.
Actually creating this questionnaire was another problem. While a lot of general information about helping sexual assault victims is online, there is not one source that lays out what to do for each specific situation. We overcame this challenge by hours and hours of research and condensing these questions down into a very large flowchart with over 100 outputs.
While these challenges were quite difficult to overcome, we were determined to get our idea out there because we knew just how how much good it could do.
We would like to make our app a detailed and worthwhile app that thoroughly helps the user gain knowledge about assualt and We hope to expand our questionnaire to be more detailed and include more types of sexual assault. We want our app to be a well made and a comprehensive resource for anyone who thinks that they might be a victim of sexual harassment or assault.
In the future we hope to add more hotlines and resources to the “Get Help” page. We also hope to implement more security measures to make sure sensitive information isn’t easily accessible (by, for example, another person unlocking the user’s device).
We also hope to add elements to the app to make it include more accommodating features . For example, in the ‘Diary’, we have only have a written Diary option. In the future we hope to add maybe a video button or a recording button where the user can record or video an incident instead of just the written option.
Lessons I Learned
When we started this project, we thought that we knew a lot about this topic, but as we researched to create our questionnaire, we found out that what we knew was only the tip of the iceberg. In most cases, the general public can only identify sexual harassment/assault when it is an obvious or extreme case, like rape. As we created our app, we learned that things aren’t that cut and dry.
We learned that sometimes, sexual harassment can be as small as unwanted touching, and while it is often disregarded, it can have a huge impact on the mental health of the survivor. We learned that little actions can build up to something more serious, and that just because they don’t seem important now doesn’t mean they should be ignored. We found out what actions can be taken to help a survivor of sexual assault, and how to properly support someone who has experienced it.
Going into this endeavor, we knew that sexual assault was a pervasive problem, and that it needed to be talked about. Now, after having worked on this app for months, we know why. We know that it is important to talk about sexual assault because every 98 seconds, a person is assaulted. We know that it is important to talk about because when we don’t, we allow another person to go without the help they need. We know that it is important because conversation incites action.
'#MeToo' was developed by Mallika Bhargava, Srivani Edupuganti, Namya Kodali, and Shreeya Kodali from Enloe High School's Academy of Health Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina