Help from Harm: The App to Help Victims Find Help
Far too many people are victimized by crime, but a large portion of those never receive the help they need, and are often unsure what services are available. Many people do not access services because they believe that they have to be reported to the police to receive help. The Help from Harm App would be designed to ask questions about the victim’s experience, and from that, compile a list of resources tailored to their situation. The app would be anonymous to protect a person's identity, but would take into account:
- Demographics, to include resources for specific populations like gender identity, race, age or sexuality.
- Type of victimization.
- Whether the victim has suffered physical, sexual, emotional or financial harm.
- Whether the victim is safe, or has a safe place to stay or people to support them.
- What type of support they are looking for, and to what intensity (ie. an anonymous number to call to talk to vs. long term
- Amount of time passed since victimization, and whether the victim wishes to report to the Police. The ability to collect
forensic evidence is time sensitive, so it is important to let the individual know that the evidence may not remain for more
than a certain amount of time.
Overall the app would take into account whether the individual wanted resources where they could remain anonymous, whether they wanted to report it to the police.
“The app would also be disguised as something else once downloaded, to hide it from an abuser or perpetrator of harm”.
With the addition of stigma and social pressures of what it means to be a ‘victim’, many people are left to handle the experience alone for fear of reporting or speaking out. People choose not to report to the police for many reasons, but they still deserve the right to help and assistance. Even those who do report to the police do not receive adequate assistance, or are in contact with agencies who are too busy to direct them to the right place.
The app would allow people to take back the power that was taken from them during the crime, and identify what kind of help they need, and what they are looking for. The app would provide suggestions as to agencies and organizations within the area, and allow the victim to ask for help when they are ready. The power is completely in the victim's hands
The app also has a promising future. While i am proposing an Ottawa based app to begin with, it is possible that the app could grow to be nation-wide, allowing people from all over Canada find what type of help is closest to them. A french version of the app would also be in the future.
It could grow so that agencies could “join” the app, adding what type of help they can offer, allowing the app to grow and change with the country, and preventing it from remaining stagnant and outdated.
It would take about two months to develop the app, then a further three months to test it. During this testing phase, i would like to take it to several Organizations in Ottawa and ensure that it is accessible for the populations they serve. I would also ask these organizations to assist with spreading the word about the app through their networks.