Ah, those Millennials and their ever present need for technological advancement. When thinking about technology in the hands of Millennials, you’re probably going to envision a teen absorbed in their iPhone, endlessly scrolling through Instagram. What if you thought instead about all of the ways - good or bad - Millennials could use technology in relation to sexual assault?
Technology allows us to expand our audience by communicating with multitudes of people across the world. Communication and connectivity via technology is a great thing - usually. With the click of a button, a phone call can be made, a text can be sent, or a tweet can be posted. Just one of the benefits of this broad audience is the ability to have conversations about sexual assault. The use of social media (hashtags, sharing, etc.) allows much needed attention and support to be brought to sexual assault organizations. It is now much easier than before to search for, find, and join a group that works towards helping sexual assault victims. Technology is one of the best ways for these organizations to spread their message and reach out to communities. Without technology, the fight against sexual assault would be at a stand still.
Through technology, the voices of victims of sexual assault can not only be heard, but be magnified. This also helps victims not feel alone, which is one of the most devastating emotions that they can feel. Victims can use technology to easily reach out to law enforcement, physicians, friends, family, or even strangers online for help or support. There are tons of online communities (blogs, profiles, chats, projects, etc.) that are safe for victims to retreat to for positivity, friendship, advice, or fun.
Some technological resources pertaining to sexual assault are:
- Athena by ROAR for Good
Athena is a small device selling for around $79 - $99 that gives off a blaringly loud alarm, while simultaneously sending your current location to family or friends when you indicate that you are in an emergency (with a 3 second press of a button). There is also a silent option that doesn’t include an alarm, but texts your emergency contacts. You can clip it to your jeans or wear it as a necklace (it’s even rain and splash proof!).
- Circle of Six
Circle of Six is an app that you can download for free. In it, you can choose six friends or family members as contacts, and when you’re in an emergency, you can use the app to send an automatic text to any of your six chosen contacts. One text alert can inform a specific person that they should call you to pretend that they need you, while another text alert can tell someone your current location and that they should come get you immediately. Circle of Six also grants you direct access to sexual assault hotlines.
- LifeLine Response
LifeLine Response is an app that you can purchase for $4.99 a month or $59.99 a year. When you have the app open, you can press down on your device screen if you feel you are in a dangerous situation, and it will alert emergency services of your location. As soon as you release your touch, a loud alarm and flashing lights will come from your device and the app will begin tracking you via GPS.
On the other hand, when people use technology to promote rape culture, exploit victims, or joke about sexual assault, technology instantly becomes a weapon against victims. Take, for instance, the 2016 case where a teenager not only witnessed a sexual assault occurring, but used her phone to record and upload a video of the rape onto Periscope. More examples can be found in the ignorance displayed by online users trivializing rape, victim blaming, or posting inappropriate comments that make others feel uncomfortable about themselves or their body. This is when technology becomes a hinderance.
At the same time, there are so many ways for technology to be used against rape culture and sexual assault, so it shouldn’t be cast as an altogether bad thing. When used correctly, technology can become a very helpful tool for sexual assault prevention and victim support. Millennials can and should seize the opportunities available to them and use technology to make innovative creations for the advancement of the fight against sexual assault.