Brocha Mishulovin was 17 when she was sexually assaulted by a family member. It wasn’t until her 30th birthday that Mishulovin felt comfortable enough to name her assaulter.
For 13 years Mishulovin thought she was alone, the sole survivor of an aggressor who abused his power and authority to take advantage of a young woman. After coming forward and naming her assaulter through a Facebook Live video, other survivors came forward, empowered by Mishulovin’s courage. She wasn’t alone.
READ ALSO: Quebec's Politicians Won't Stop Sexually Harassing Each Other
Now, an initiative soon-to-be launched in Montreal hopes to ensure sexual assault survivors aren’t acting alone when naming an aggressor.
Going public about my abuse for my birthday
Working with a team of lawyers, researchers, and therapists, Zajdel and the TeamUpNow collective are creating a database that can collect information from sexual assault survivors.
If you are a survivor, you would go to the TeamUpNow website (or use the app, currently in development) and anonymously input a report, providing the name of your aggressor and other details. The database would then let you know if others have made the same claim.
At this point, the database would allow you to connect with other users who named the same aggressor. The database would ask whether you would like to meet in a public setting, while also providing resources to legal professionals, psychiatric professionals, and police enforcement officials.
In essence, the idea is strength in numbers By connecting with other survivors who share the same aggressor, a stronger legal case can be made. Survivors can also offer each other support when going through the emotional labour of a sexual assault case and investigation.
“We…are connecting survivors to allow them to overcome obstacles to achieving justice by pooling resources and finding other people who can corroborate that their aggressor is in fact a dangerous person,” said Warwick Walton, VP of TeamUpNow, who studied law at McGill University.
As we know, in the wake of the #MeToo campaign and the deluge of sexual assault cases that have arisen since, and continue to, one survivor coming forward can prompt others to do the same. TeamUpNow hopes to facilitate this process by empowering survivors to come forward.
When it comes to potential false accusations-for example, if a group of individuals wanted to defame a certain person for personal reasons-Walton assures that TeamUpNow has taken the necessary precautions.
“Having done our own research and consultation with lawyers, we do not believe the information sharing through our service constitutes an actionable breach of privacy for anyone involved,” said Walton.
Information collected in the database will be available to police for their own investigation. Lying to police is a crime, and TeamUpNow assures that there is a vetting process in place to substantiate claims made by users.
The personal information of survivors inputting reports is also taken into consideration.
Users will also be prompted to talk over the phone with other survivors before meeting in a public setting, if they choose to, and to do so in a public setting in order to ensure their safety.
Sexual assault and misconduct is a serious societal issue, one that is only now being openly discussed. Unfortunately, for many women and men, sexual harassment of many forms has been a reality for years.
By creating an open and positive space for survivors to come together, TeamUpNow will do what it can to arm individuals with the emotional and legal support needed to oust aggressors.
Currently in development, TeamUpNow is conducting a fundraising campaign to launch their app and database. More information and ways to contribute can be found here.