New App Streamlines Access to Sexual Assault Help Resources
Issue   |   Wed, 10/29/2014 - 01:37

Earlier this semester, the Consortium Assault Services App, or CASA, was released to students in the Five College Consortium. The new mobile app is a collaborative project involving Judd Liebman ’16, the college’s Counseling Center and a private technology firm named Last Call Media, which has developed websites and apps for other colleges and private organizations.

The purpose of the app is to consolidate and simplify information and guidance resources for victims of sexual assault as well as bystanders.

“The Amherst website does a great job of being thorough with the resources, but the information isn’t always organized the best way. So our app retools that information to a more user friendly system,” Liebman wrote in an email interview.

Liebman conceived the idea for the app because he saw a disconnect between resources on sexual assault and those who need them.

“Searching through websites and pamphlets certainly isn’t the path of least resistance when in need. So, this app discreetly gives the user all of the information he/she needs for now, or for later,” Liebman said. “Many people don’t know where to turn, they don’t know the sheer number of resources out there. We needed to address this urgent inefficiency.”

The home screen of the app prompts the user to choose one college in the Five College Consortium. Each college’s section contains information relevant to the surrounding area. The user moves through a series of increasingly specific questions, which allows the app to tailor resources to individual cases. The app is intended to help those who are in immediate danger, as well as survivors and bystanders seeking guidance.

For those who are in immediate danger, the app provides emergency contact information, including that of Amherst Town Police, a 24-hour rape crisis hotline, University of Massachusetts Health Services, and Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Calls can be made directly from the app interface.

Those who are not in immediate danger are offered assistance in a wide variety of issues related to sexual assault, including safety and accommodations for those who are threatened, where and how to report assault, and confidential resources such as counseling for victims. “The structure of the app lets people decide on support not based on a name search but based on their preferences of the type of resource. This way, the user can create a support network he or she is comfortable with,” Liebman said.

The Consortium Assault Services App is available for free download on the App Store, and is continuing to develop new features.

“The app is a work in progress. We will always be taking feedback and adding new resources,” Liebman said.