A new resource is now available in Washington, DC for survivors of Sexual Assault and friends of survivors. UASK DC is an App for iPhones and Android smartphones that was built as a joint project of Men Can Stop Rape and the DC office of victim services. It is available on the App Store and Google Play.
UASK provides a one-stop-shop for the many different resources available sexual assault survivors in the District of Columbia, especially students. In one app, UASK provides phone numbers (which can be called from within the app) for the RAINN 24-hour hotline, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program at Washington Hospital Center, and the host of legal options offered by various non-profits as well as the city of Washington. UASK also allows users to access RAINN’s 24-hour anonymous online chat and many multi-lingual and ASL resources. Additionally, after telling the app what university in DC you go to, UASK also provides university-specific resources for every university in DC (American, Catholic, George Washington, Georgetown, Howard, UDC and Trinity).
As DC Mayor Vincent Gray put it: “for the first time, life-saving assault response resources from all District universities and 19 community organizations have been united in an all-in-one tool for college students.” Obviously providing so many resources in one place has the potential to create a lot of change for survivors of sexual assault. But as I was sitting in the UASK city-wide launch press conference at the University of the District of Columbia listening to Mayor Gray and other city leaders tout the new app, I could not help but wonder what else the city was doing not only to support survivors of sexual assault, but to prevent sexual violence as a whole.
Daniel Rappaport, the Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator at American University shares that concern. He said that “while this invaluable resource (UASK) will, without a doubt, be an extraordinary tool for survivors to access resources in DC, its equally important that we continue to improve our work as a community to prevent these crimes from occurring in the first place.”
Groups like Men Can Stop Rape are at the forefront of sexual assault prevention in the District. Their Men of Strength Clubs in area high schools and universities (of which I am a part) aim to challenge the basic societal conceptions of masculinity that lead many to not see the problems within our current rape culture and contribute to a culture of violence. By providing a space in which men can express their discontent with societal expectations, many men have found a way to become leaders against sexual assault in their own communities.
But of course, our work is never done, and the only way to change the pervasive sexual culture of our society is to never give up.