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District Government and Partners Launch First-of-Its Kind App and Initiative to Help Victims of Sexual Assault and Dating Violence
The Mayor’s Office of Victim Services and Men Can Stop Rape launch ASK DC app
(Washington, DC) – Today, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul Quander and the Mayor’s Office of Victim Services (OVS) joined community-service providers, leading experts in sexual-assault prevention, and law-enforcement officials from throughout the DC area to launch a new, District-wide initiative to address sexual assault and dating violence through the use of technology.
The Assault. Services. Knowledge. DC, or ASK DC, initiative features mobile application, website and training components all aimed at providing resources and raising awareness for victims of sexual assault and dating violence. For the first time, the app compiles 33 assault-response resources from all service providers throughout the District in one, easily accessible tool. It provides quick access to immediate medical help and law enforcement, 24-hour support hotlines and online chats, and District-specific community resources. The ASK DC initiative also encompasses a series of training sessions that will provide military personnel, law-enforcement officials, Capitol Hill staffers, deaf and hard-of-hearing residents and other District communities with bystander intervention strategies and sexual-assault-response protocols. The initiative also includes specialized resources for victims of sexual assault and dating violence in the military personnel, LGBTQ, deaf and hard of hearing, and multilingual communities. The resources are available in English, Spanish, French, Amharic, American Sign Language, and 22 different Asian languages.
“One of my overarching goals is to ensure that every District resident feels safe and protected in their community, regardless of where they live, their age, their religion, their ethnic background, their sexual orientation or their gender identity,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “ASK DC is a way to save lives and provide all of our residents and visitors with quick access to critical resources that can help address – and ultimately reduce – incidents of sexual assault and dating violence.”
ASK DC was modeled after U ASK DC, which launched in September 2012 and provides access to all the services available to victims of sexual assault and dating violence available on the District’s college and university campuses. U ASK DC was created in response to alarming numbers of occurrences of campus sexual assault coupled with the severe underreporting of those incidents. ASK DC takes this model a step further, extending access to the entire District. The same partnership that created U ASK DC (OVS and leading men’s violence-prevention organization Men Can Stop Rape) created ASK DC as a response to demand for an app of the same nature that was accessible and applicable to all District residents and visitors.
ASK DC is also a model that states and cities can replicate to increase reporting of rape and sexual assault; reduce the number of incidents; and raise awareness about, and use of, vital community resources. According to the 2008 National Crime Victimization Survey, every 2 minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. In addition, 40 percent of young men and women surveyed in the 2013 Teens and Young Adults on Dating Violence and Sexual Assault study reported that they would not know what to do if they witnessed dating abuse or sexual assault. ASK DC, with its innovative structure, presents a unique opportunity to address these statistics.
“Anyone can use this app,” Men Can Stop Rape Executive Director Neil Irvin said. “Every person with a smartphone either living in or visiting DC can become an active bystander by downloading the app and learning how to support a friend, family member or colleague who might need your help.”
Partners in the ASK DC project include the DC Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program (SANE), DC Rape Crisis Center, Network for Victim Recovery of DC, The Lighthouse Center for Healing, Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, District Alliance for Safe Housing, Deaf Abused Women’s Network, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, and Metropolitan Police Department, among others.
The ASK DC app is available for free download in the iTunes App Store, Google Play Store or BlackBerry App World and is compatible with BlackBerry, iOS and Android OS devices. Visit ASK DC online at www.askdc.org, or learn more about Men Can Stop Rape at www.mencanstoprape.org. For more information on the Office of Victim Services, visit ovs.dc.gov.
SAVRAA Task Force and Independent Consultant