The Online Report System That Could Stop 60% Of All On-Campus Sexual Assaults

As we've learned from our series A Class Of Our Own, the women of the class of 2015 are full of promise and drive, and they're ready for the year to come, whatever it may bring. Here's the thing: None of them — no student at all, for that matter — should have to be prepared to feel unsafe on their own campus.

Although we can all agree on that, it's unfortunately still a big problem. One in five women are sexually assaulted while attending college, and only 10% of those women go on to report their attack. So women entering college this year have good reason to be concerned for their safety; they have these gravely foreboding statistics hanging over their heads. Luckily, they're not the only ones facing the facts. Callisto is a new online system that helps survivors report and record the details of their attacks, and it's designed specifically for on-campus assault.

Pomona College and the University of San Francisco are the first colleges to adopt the system, and hopefully more will follow. Once users make an account, they can select to "Write It Down" — Callisto's term for reporting the crime. What follows is a customizable checklist divided into the following sections: When, Where, What, and Who. Each section asks a series of questions. For example, the "When" section begins simply by asking if the assault happened before or after the student enrolled. Choosing not to answer is always an option, and the report is only finalized once the user enters a "Secret Key," a method of verification that will ensure the security of his or her report.

Once the report is saved and timestamped, the user can send it to campus authorities through Callisto. Users can also use tools on the site to find the support and resources they need — from student counselors to area crisis centers to simple self-care exercises.

While users may send reports to their schools when they choose, they also have the option to have their reports automatically sent through if someone else reports an assault at the hands of the same attacker. About 90% of all sexual assaults are committed by attackers who have assaulted someone previously, so if multiple offenses can be stopped before they happen, 60% of all assaults could be prevented.

At its core, Callisto is a safe and secure third-party platform for survivors of sexual assault. It has the potential to change how assaults are reported as well as how we think about assault in general, given how much agency is granted to the survivor via its interface. Every step along the way allows users a chance to pause and process their experience. One anonymous survivor is quoted on the site as saying, “[I would have used Callisto if it had been available] because it would've kept my options open while giving me time to process how I wanted to proceed.” The truth is, many survivors require this kind of time, space, and security to feel comfortable reporting their assault. So any tool that makes this process easier is a step in the right direction.

You can suggest a specific college for Callisto to work with here, and you can donate to support the program here. For more information about on-campus sexual assault, or to find support now, Callisto developers recommend visiting End Rape On Campus or contacting the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 800-656-4673.

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