Callisto App May Help Make Reporting Campus Sexual Assault Safer for Survivors

The aftermath of any act of sexual violence can be confusing and sensitive, and survivors rarely come forward as a result of institutionalized sexism and victim-blaming. It's for this reason that the non-profit Sexual Health Innovations has launched a campaign to fund Callisto, a web database for colleges that was developed to make reporting sexual assault a safer process for victims. It can take victims months or even years to come forward with information about their assaults, but the greater majority go unreported. But 9 in 10 rapists are serial offenders, which poses a serious threat to the sexual safety of communities like college campuses, and particularly young women, for whom experiencing sexual violence is most prevalent at approximately one in five.

Callisto may be indeed prove a useful tool across college campuses where instances of violence are especially high. The site allows survivors to create a report immediately using evidence, photos, and information about the assault, but with the added option of delayed filing, meaning the user may forego actually moving forward with allegations until he or she is ready, or until notified that another user has filed a report about the same offender. All of this can be done privately with zero access to report files by campuses or Callisto administrators until the user is prepared to come forward. “Callisto is designed to provide a more empowering, transparent, and confidential reporting experience for college sexual assault survivors,” says the website.

“Survivors who know or suspect that their assailant is a repeat offender are more likely to report their assault. If we could stop college sexual assault perpetrators after their second assault, we would prevent 60% of sexual assaults.”

In an email to the New York Times, Sexual Health Innovations’ executive director Jessica Ladd says that survivors are willing to talk about their cases in safe environments, but fear public outrage expressed in high profile cases. “This sharing doesn’t have to happen publicly, as the Cosby and UVA cases did. Survivors should not have to out themselves to the entire world in order to get justice or to find out if they are the only one.” Callisto provides information about alternative ways to move forward with their report, allowing users complete control without any undue pressure from school administrators or police.

“Survivors currently have no way of knowing whether or not their assailant is a repeat offender,” says Callisto’s website. “Survivors who know or suspect that their assailant is a repeat offender are more likely to report their assault. If we could stop college sexual assault perpetrators after their second assault, we would prevent 60 percent of sexual assaults.” The campaign has reportedly raised $25,000 of its $1 million launch goal. If you’d like to petition for Callisto’s program to become available at your school, you can do so here.

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