One of the victims of Bill Cosby created an application to accompany people who have suffered sexual violence

The long healing journey that the 48-year-old former basketball player Andrea Constand has made since she was drugged and raped in 2004 by American actor Bill Cosby, has now led to an application designed to accompany people who have faced sexual assault.

SAFEAPP (Survivors Achieving Freedom & Empowerment) is an application that can be downloaded in the United States and Canada. It is a three-step program that can be completed in 21 days, aimed at working body, mind and spirit from a holistic perspective, based on scientific research on trauma.

The app helps survivors of sexual assault begin to heal through meditation and community forums, while offering a help center with access to resources and a library, as well as free medical, emotional, and legal assistance. .

Constand hopes that SAFEAPP will be a valid alternative for accompanying women who fear, when making a report, of being treated as inciters or guilty of the aggression suffered and who are not ready to go to help centers.

Former basketball player Andrea Constand, in addition to testifying against actor Bill Cosby, publicly recounted how she experienced the trauma after the sexual abuse (Image: Courtesy Hope Healing and Transformation)
Former basketball player Andrea Constand, in addition to testifying against actor Bill Cosby, publicly recounted how she experienced the trauma after the sexual abuse (Image: Courtesy Hope Healing and Transformation)

“A survivor deserves counseling and protection,” Constand said in one of the many interviews she has had since she testified against Cosby and founded Hope, Healing and Transformation. “Improving the complaint process for victims is essential to gain their trust. The perspective with which the security forces look at the survivors is essential to maximize credibility and prove convictions, “he added.

The three-step program

Various investigations consulted to develop the application indicate that people who experience sexual assault can, as a survival mode, disconnect from their bodies and engage in self-harm behaviors. Therefore, they need to take an active role in their recovery and become aware of how they can take care of themselves.

The three steps of the application are Mind – a program that helps control the nervous system – Body – focused on positive body awareness and breathing – and Spirit, which aims to understand the healing process.

Constand founded an organization and launched the SAFEAPP app to help navigate the physical and emotional consequences of sexual violence (Image: MARK MAKELA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP)
Constand founded an organization and launched the SAFEAPP app to help navigate the physical and emotional consequences of sexual violence (Image: MARK MAKELA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP)

The platform also warns that it does not substitute or replace professional medical or psychological care, or legal channels, in the event of a complaint. It is a support and a way to break isolation.

Trauma

The story was shocking. More than 60 women denounced popular comedian Bill Cosby for sexual assault, but it was Andrea Constand’s testimony that led to the actor being formally charged and arrested in 2016.

In the letter that she read before the judge during the trial, the athlete was able to narrate the moment of the trauma: “To truly understand the impact that the sexual assault had on my life, you must know who I was before it happened. At the time of the assault, I was 30 years old, I was fit, I was a confident athlete. She was strong, skilled, had excellent reflexes, agility and speed. When I graduated from high school in Toronto, I was among the top three basketball players in Canada. Dozens of universities in the United States were lining up to offer me a scholarship to play basketball and I chose to go to the University of Arizona.

(…) When the man I had come to know as a mentor and friend (by Bill Cosby) drugged me and sexually assaulted me, instead of being able to run, jump, or do whatever other physical thing I wanted, I was paralyzed and completely defenseless . I couldn’t move my legs or arms. I couldn’t speak or stay conscious. I was totally vulnerable without being able to protect myself. After the assault, she wasn’t sure what really happened, but the pain said it all. I felt overwhelming shame. Doubts and confusion meant that I could not support myself in my family as I normally did. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, not even myself ”.

The SAFEAPP app is a three-step program called Body, Mind, and Soul (Image: Courtesy Hope Healing and Transformation)
The SAFEAPP app is a three-step program called Body, Mind, and Soul (Image: Courtesy Hope Healing and Transformation)

Constand was able to begin her journey of improvement. First, she became a massage therapist; second, he practiced yoga and meditation. This is how he describes in his writing how the road was: “Moving away from that dark and lonely place, in the direction of that person that I was before all this happened. Instead of looking back I am eager to look to the future. I want to get to the place where the person that I should be receives a second chance ”, he concludes in his story.

Platforms

In Argentina, the most widespread platform of assistance to people who have suffered gender violence – of all kinds – is the 144, of the national government. Law 26,485 describes sexual violence as a specific type of violence against women and defines it as “any action that implies the violation in all its forms, with or without genital access, of a woman’s right to voluntarily decide about her life. sexual or reproductive through threats, coercion, use of force or intimidation, including rape within marriage or other related or kinship relationships, whether or not there is coexistence, as well as forced prostitution, exploitation, slavery, harassment, abuse sex and trafficking in women ”.

According to the national system of criminal statistics (SNIC) belonging to the Ministry of National Security, sexual assaults represent 1% of all crimes and each year involve 15,400 victims. That is, 42 per day. The figure, however, does not reflect reality: according to the eyes of specialists on the subject, the rate of complaints is very low. In the United States, it is estimated that only one event in every hundred is reported.

144 is the official hotline to assist people in situations of gender violence that also offers an application where you can chat or send an email and geolocated information about assistance spaces and the sidewalk of the Accompany Program. This program is aimed at women and the LGTBIQ + group, and its objective is to strengthen economic independence through financial support and comprehensive accompaniment.

The data provided by the Technical Directorate of Registries and Databases based on the information provided by the three offices that host line 144 indicate a total of 12,511 communications received between January and June 2021, which were referred to the different assistance channels for your follow-up or intervention. 93% of these contacts corresponded to domestic violence, 2% to institutional violence and the remaining 1% to workplace violence. 4% are related to other modalities such as violence against reproductive freedom, obstetric violence, media violence, political violence and violence in public space.

For Andrea Constand's complaint, Bill Cosby was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2016;  It was the first resounding sentence of the #MeToo era
For Andrea Constand’s complaint, Bill Cosby was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2016; It was the first resounding sentence of the #MeToo era

Applications are an increasingly popular resource for reaching victims. There are also local governments that implement these types of tools. The Municipality of Quilmes, for example, has the Gender Violence application that consists of a panic button. Among the initiatives of institutions and companies, there is RED X TODAS, an application with an alarm and geolocation so that women can send a message requesting help. The tools to address sexual violence are diverse, because there are many edges that surround the problem, not just the legal one. Constand’s is an initiative that aims to accompany and empower people who have been violated.

The panorama offered by statistics on sexual violence shows the importance of adding support and information resources through accessible channels such as cell phones. It is quite possible that in this way more women will be able to break the isolation that usually surrounds victims of violence, will be encouraged to report their aggressors and that this step will allow them to receive the necessary help to begin to go through the trauma.

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This note is part of the Solutions for Latin America platform, an alliance between INFOBAE and RED / ACCIÓN.

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Reference-www.infobae.com

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