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live / 2016

Empower Me, a digital tool for rape survivors & allies that fosters community, justice & healing

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Light Sprout

Empower Me cultivates a community of healing for sexual assault survivors and their advocates through story sharing, medical and psychological resources, and avenues for justice.

Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

Light Sprout is collaborating with ProSocial, Take Back the Night and is under review with Community Partners, though we have a backup plan if they do not approve fiscal sponsorship.

Please describe your project proposal.

Light Sprout will develop “Empower Me”, a digital tool that provides important, immediate and ongoing resources to equip sexual assault victims and their allies from the moment it occurs, through the process of seeking justice and healing. This would take them, their family and allies out of isolation and empower them to make informed decisions and access vital support systems to accelerate the healing and justice seeking process. Empower Me is easily accessible and free of charge to all users.

Which of the live metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Healthcare access
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Resilient communities
  • Residents receiving coordinated healthcare services
  • Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences
  • Mental illness

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to live?

Empower Me will make LA the best place to live by creating a safer and more just city where a resilient and thriving community of sexual assault survivors and their allies take control of their healing and challenge rape culture.

In America, a person is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 33 men have been victims of sexual assault, but only .006% of perpetrators are convicted. 50% of transgender people experience rape, but 68% of all cases go unreported due to a long-ingrained stigma, which continues to persist today. These survivors have one thing in common - they all need healing and justice.

Light Sprout collaborated with ProSocial, an LA based strategic planning company, to research the most prevalent issues survivors face, the resources available and where additional resources were needed. We found that survivors and their families are still living in isolation, shame and confusion. There is an acute lack of the guidance necessary to heal and seek justice in the immediate aftermath and the years that follow. 99% of current resources are allocated to rape prevention rather than support for those already victimized. A central hub where victims and their advocates can find support and information required is clearly needed. Resources for minority and LGBTQ groups are scattered, making it difficult for these marginalized communities to get the help they need. Empower Me will thus be the first app to aggregate resources for all survivors, inclusive of their gender, race or sexual preference.

Additionally, Empower Me will be the first platform specifically targeted to survivors’ family and loved ones, as it is essential to provide resources to those who care for the survivor post trauma. These great people are allies and must be equally equipped with resources necessary to effectively support survivors. This ranges from assisting in completing a rape kit to collecting evidence, what to say and not say, and how best to care for the survivor and themselves. Sexual assault is often also traumatic for the ally as some feel lost, inadequate and overwhelmed.

Storytelling has been proven an essential feature of community building and combating the isolation survivors and their allies face. Empower Me will highlight both the traumatic aftermath and forms of recovery which will propel the movement against rape culture forward.

Empower Me will be a trusted and instantly accessible virtual advocate designed to eliminate the anxiety around seeking medical and legal help in a logically constructed and user-friendly mobile environment. The multiple features of the app are thoughtfully combined to mitigate the physical, mental and emotional trauma from sexual assault, while providing outlets for support as it will be linked to Take Back the Night for free online counselling, legal advice and advocacy alternatives.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

The application provides an ideal, tangible mechanism for measuring outcomes and impact. Each visitor to the app will be registered, and through storytelling, we can track usage and usefulness over time.

We are building a clickable prototype that will be tested in the community before testing an online version of the app, which will allow us to make the necessary changes in time for the live launch. This will cost a few thousand dollars extra up front, but allows us to save thousands later.

We will combine quantitative data that can be obtained from the application backend together with qualitative feedback from focus groups and assess the effectiveness and reach of the application in the community and ways it can be improved over time.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Community outreach