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New app provides sexual assault survivors with resources

<p>Photo Illustration | Reach Out ­&mdash; College Edition is a free app that victims of sexual assault or their friends and family members may use as a support infrastructure by providing information about local resources.</p>

Photo Illustration | Reach Out ­— College Edition is a free app that victims of sexual assault or their friends and family members may use as a support infrastructure by providing information about local resources.

With a simple mobile application, students can become empowered with information and resources on sexual assault both on campus and in the local community.  

"Reach Out" is a recently-released app that provides sexual assault victims and their friends or family members with information about local resources, said Zachary Csillag, a partner and marketer with the company. 

Released by a non-profit group founded in 2014 called "Capptivation," Csillag said "Reach Out" covers nearly 3,000 campuses with a database of more than 40,000 resources. 

The company’s main goal is to support victims and help them through their situation, rather than throwing an enormous amount of information at them.

“The app is a tool for survivors, their friends and family members that we hope will create a nationwide network of support," Csillag said. "Sexual assault plagues all colleges, but not all colleges can afford to offer their students the same level of support. This is not acceptable. And the beauty of technology is that we don't have to accept it." 

The app is free and users are allowed to remain anonymous, Csillag said.

“We’re a self-funded startup, meaning that we’ve been working without pay. It’s been a labor of love and hope. (It is) well worth it," he said. "Since the launch of Reach Out in June, it’s been enormously satisfying to see our dream of employing technology to empower and help students that have experienced sexual violence, become a reality." 

With a number of helpful features, the app referrals, a network, a refresher, and email conversations, Csillag said."Coming soon are versions of Reach Out for high schools and for college students studying abroad." 

“A victim worried about his or her privacy can send a CappMail to the Title IX Coordinator to learn more about the college’s confidentiality policy before filing a complaint," he said. "We've partnered with Blue Seat Studios to create a series of ongoing educational videos that can be delivered through Reach Out as a way to reinforce important concepts." 

"Reach Out" is a more efficient sexual resource application than any other because it is localized, providing resources specifically in the student's area, Csillag said.

“After a student identifies what college campus they attend, the app automatically customizes itself to present to the student information pertinent to that campus," he said. "We link to the school’s policies, we keep track of on-campus resourcing, we present information about the nearest hospitals and the local police." 

Local groups help students unite for a common goal, which can be more empowering than a global, distant effort, said Melissa Wilson, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

Yasmeen Abdelhady, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, agrees that sexual assault resources should be adjusted to a certain community. 

“I can’t really name any resources (at the University) and I personally haven’t seen or heard of anything that can help victims of sexual assault or even educate people about it,” Abdelhady said.

"Reach Out" has the ability to help out students at Rutgers, from looking for resources to figuring out how to address such a topic, Wilson said.

"Because it's very difficult to know how to help your friend through this time, the app can provide information on the subject matter and how to help your friend obtain justice on what was done to them."

Wilson believes the app would most benefit the friends of sexual assault victims.

Apps are more effective than websites for students because they are more direct and accessible on smart phones, Abdelhady said.

“Apps can have plenty information for victims of sexual assault, along with anyone that should read about it," Wilson said. "The app may help you help your friend that is struggling internally on what to do next, because it’s scary to go to the authorities and explain your story over and over again to strangers." 

Abdelhady said the developers have good intentions, adding that genuine passion acts as a driving reason to create and maintain an app.

“I think they have an amazing goal. It would help so many people who are victims and also others that are close to victims so they too would understand how to approach the situation and how to help them,” Abdelhady said. 

Nicole Osztrogonacz is a School of Communication and Information sophomore majoring in journalism and media studies. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. Find her on Twitter @nikki_osz for more.

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