The National Sexual Violence Resource Center estimates that one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives. While this terrifying statistic should have women worried, it points to a greater societal problem that must be addressed on a large scale, and can serve as an incentive for every woman to address the issue of her own personal safety to prevent rape.
While tech innovations, gadgets and gizmos aren’t the answer. They can help keep girls and women safe in certain circumstances.
Some entrepreneurs and startups are getting a boost from crowdfunding and other means to develop inventive products and apps that give women an edge when it comes to personal safety. These range from devices disguised as jewelry to nail polish. Creative, effective, and discreet, these innovations can make all the difference to prevent sexual assault when seconds matter in dangerous or life-threatening situations.
Athena is a black silicone pendant the size of a half dollar, and can be pinned to a purse, clothing – even worn as a necklace. With a recessed button at the center of the device to prevent accidental alerts, users can hold it for three seconds to trigger a loud alarm that will immediately notify friends and family of their current location, or alternatively, press it three times in quick succession to send a silent alert if you’re suspicious of being targeted. www.roarforgood.com
The Safelet is another wearable device allowing users to send alerts to predetermined friends and family without using their phones who can then call 911. Similar to setting a watch, users can activate the Safelet by simultaneously pressing two buttons located on either side of the face. It looks and is worn like a regular bracelet, and once activated, syncs with the user’s mobile phone and starts recording sound. http://www.safelet.com/
Watch Over Me is a free app available for Android and iOS, that allows the user to set a timer when travelling alone. When you’re in a situation where you don’t have time to make a call for help, just shake your phone and even if it’s locked the app turns on your phone’s alarm, video camera and sends an alert to your pre-set emergency contacts. The company that created it dubbed themselves “Waze of personal safety” stating, “instead of giving you traffic updates, it warns you when you’re about to enter a high crime zone.”
You can choose to add updates in the form of texts, pictures, or video, and if you do not tap the “I’m Safe” button before the timer runs out, friends and family are immediately given your location and any information you've uploaded. Because the app is activated based on inactivity, you’ll be taken care of even if you’re separated from your phone. http://watchovermeapp.com/
One functionality that sets Stiletto apart from other wearable jewelry or app, other than it’s stylish look, is the ability to place 911 calls on your behalf. Less than an inch on all sides, it can be worn as a pendant on necklaces or bracelets, and with a single press, dials an emergency contact, or the police. If you’re unable to speak for yourself, the automated voice assistant takes care of that for you. If the situation de-escalates, with a second press, you can confirm your safety. http://stiletto.is/collections/all
Developed by university students, Undercover Color is nail polish that changes color upon contact with a drink that has Xanax, Rohypnol, or GHB in it – the drugs most commonly used for date rape. Still in the conceptual stage, the product is scheduled for release in 2017, and has already secured over $5.5 million in funding. For users, a test to see if their drinks are safe will only be a fingertip away. http://www.undercovercolors.com/
While this is wearable device that you can clip onto keys or your pants’ pocket, a free app version is also available. Revolar works with either Wi-Fi or cellular data, and while travelling, users can use a single click to let their contacts know they’re safe, two clicks if they feel unsafe, or three if they’re in eminent danger. Users can also use the app version to send themselves a phone call. The phone rings and plays a pre-recorded message, so the user can pretend they’re on a call to escape an uncomfortable situation in a pinch. https://revolar.com/
Because it is a text service, there’s nothing to download. As long as you have a cellphone signal, let Kitestring know when to check up on you, and text your reply when they do. The SMS service, which is free, also offers emergency contact notifications and a personalized alert message. https://www.kitestring.io/
8. REACT MOBILE
React Mobile offers both a free safety app and panic button device that can be attached to clothing, car keys, wallets, or carried in hand. Once activated, a React Mobile dispatcher immediately provides emergency contacts with your profile information and GPS location. Called “the world’s smallest personal panic button” React Mobile also offers group packages, perfect for organizations and community groups looking to stay protected together. https://reactmobile.com/
This self-defense product is geared towards active women, who want to enjoy the freedom of exercise in the early morning hours, or in the evenings after work without worry. The heavy-duty plastic serrated-edge weapon is , fitted to and worn on your finger, and can increase the user’s chances of getting to safety in the event of an attack. There’s no need to reach into a pocket or fanny pack – with only a split second to react, you can start defending yourself right away. https://goguarded.com/
10. GO GUARDED
This self-defense product is geared towards active women, who want to enjoy the freedom of exercise in the early morning hours, or in the evenings after work. The heavy-duty plastic serrated-edge weapon is worn on your finger, and can increase the user’s chances of getting to safety in the event of an attack. There’s no need to reach into a pocket or fanny pack – with only a split second to react, you can start defending yourself right away. https://goguarded.com/
BONUS #1: OCCLY
Occly can be quickly converted from a home security solution to a wearable personal safety device. It has a panic button, four cameras that record your surroundings, sirens, a microphone, LED lighting, Bluetooth capabilities and a number of automatic alarm sensors. The images that are recorded before and during the alarm, are sent in real-time to Occly’s 24-hour emergency response center. Their trained staff reviews the live audio and video and takes appropriate action—which includes providing assistance to the customer and also dispatching local authorities to the emergency location. Users can also set the device to notify friends or family of an alarm and each will receive a text notification http://www.occly.com/
BONUS #2: SIREN
Siren is an alarm cloaked as a ring which gives off an over 100 decibel, ear-splitting sound to startle and distract an attacker from up to 50 feet away. The wearer turns the top of the ring to the left to trigger the sound. There’s a second delay to give the user the option to turn the ring off in a false alarm or if the situation shifts and make it unnecessary. https://sirenring.com
Susan Harrow has created a program called, True Shield: Verbal Self-Defense For Girls that teaches young women 14-24 how to protect themselves in 10 of life’s most difficult and dangerous situations that they’ll likely encounter — and stay safe.
She’s CEO of Harrow Communications, Inc., a media consultancy, and for the past 27 years has trained thousands of people in verbal and non-verbal communication. She’s the author of the bestseller, Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul (HarperCollins) a marketing book for women, is a former teaching tennis pro and has a black belt in Aikido.