Woman survives rape, creates way for other women to stay safe

Sexual assault victim on team that developed app that creates circle of safety

Nancy Schwartzman wants everyone to create a circle of safety around them and hopes they will use her smartphone app to do it.

Schwartzman has a very personal reason for wanting to help others, she was raped just after college. Now that she shares her story, she realizes she was not alone.

"I became really the receptacle for so many people's stories," said Schwartzman.

She is on a team that has created the app called the Circle of 6.  It allows users to input the phone numbers of six trusted friends to have on-hand immediately, at all times.

"You choose six friends, type them in, and then its group messaging," Schwartzman explained.

If the user needs to make a call for help, the app lets them do it discreetly.

"When you don't have privacy or someone's looking, you're kind of safe to reach out without being super obvious about it," said Schwartzman.

The Circle of Six app is equipped with three main functions to help in emergency situations: a car icon sends a text to the user's circle saying "Come and get me, I need help getting hope safely," and uses GPS technology to let them know the user's exact location.

The second function, a phone icon, enacts the "call and interrupt me" function, nicknamed the "bad date" button.

"You hit two taps, really subtly your phone rings, and you have a way to get out," said Schwartzman.

The third function is gives resources and advice on dating violence, including a hotline that women can call.

Schwartzman said of this function, " It kind of breaks the silence around that issue without being too aggressive about it."

Sexual assault is an all too common occurrence in this country. Statistics indicate that a woman is raped every two minutes, and one in five women will be victims of assault in their lifetime. Often, these assaults are committed by someone a woman knows, or even considers a friend.  

Schwartzman said it's time for more awareness and education about sexual assault.

"I think we're at a really critical place in making a difference."

Circle of 6 has already been downloaded by over 100,000 people in 32 countries, and is the winner of the White House "apps against abuse" technology challenge. It is available for free download for both Apple and Android phones.  For more information on the app, click here.

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