Blog posts relating to awareness

Sexual Assault car mirror 2017 ulzi app freedom community campus safety family locator gps phone tracker emergency alert system

2017 in the Rearview Mirror

I like to think of my life as constant forward motion, treating it like a journey – a road trip would be my ideal metaphor. Cruising down an endless Route 66, sitting in the driver’s seat of my 1970s station wagon, I peer up in my rearview mirror on occasion. But this year, I’m hesitant to look back. If you’re anything like me, looking back to 2017 is daunting.

It was a crazy year, to say the least, and one that will define the trajectory of our lives for years to come – to say the most. 

For those of us involved in organizations seeking to end sexual violence, this last year feels equal parts exciting and exhausting. After all, so far, the news sucks. Peeking in the door mirror on my right I see Women’s Marches and #MeToo movements, and I’m hopeful now. My spirit lifted, I look into the left door mirror now – and I see how horribly pervasive sexual assault and harassment really is. But looking at the past year in such small snippets doesn’t do me any good. I overcome my fear and glance up into the rearview mirror, and this is what I see: 

The Year Began…

January beckoned 2017 into existence with an inauguration that would stoke a political divide in the discussion about sexual assault. Regardless of your feelings about politics and the current presidential administration, sexual assault should stand out as a moral blemish on our lives.  

In response, women from around the country flooded into Washington D.C. for the Women’s March on January 21st and 22ndFive hundred thousand strong, people of all genders marched in protest of continued inaction against an unfair societal standard for women and other gender minorities. The march wasn’t contained to D.C. either, and organized marches and protests around the globe grew to over 2.5 million participants. The stage was set for unprecedented social change.  

But, while conversations flared and political posturing from individual states continued to heat the melting pot of American diversity to a boiling point, nothing seemed to change. The gaze of media diverted from sexual assault and feminist movements to other policy changes. I felt like I must look outside of my own nation to find examples of progressive gender movement.  

A Sleepy Summer

Through a lens concerned with preventing sexual assault, I thought the summer was sleepy. At its conclusion in September, a new slough of changes began to materialize. Title Ⅸ guidance was changed, allowing more leeway in the way that universities could handle accusations of sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault. On top of that, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy was threatened, making it less clear whether survivors under DACA would be taken seriously or protected from deportation if they chose to come forward.

From the position of a prevention advocate, I feared that it would leave more perpetrators free to continue to hurt people. As a human being, I feared thousands would continue to have their voices stripped away. 

But Then Something Changed  

The New York Times published a story detailing decades of accusations of sexual assault against Hollywood production giant Harvey Weinstein. In the coming media storm, Weinstein’s own company fired him and social and traditional media shamed him for his actions. It became clear to the country that an unchecked culture of misogyny and sexual abuse existed within the entertainment business. 

Just two weekends later, a hashtag began to circulate: #MeToo. The hashtag was part of a larger organizational campaign begun by Tarana Burke. Her organization, Me Too, began their fight against sexual assault in 2006. The Sunday of that weekend, actor Alyssa Milano tweeted using #MeToo.

By the end of that night, my own Facebook feed was populated with women’s – and some men’s – statements and stories of their own experiences at the hands of abusers.  

An avalanche of sexual misconduct and assault accusations ensued for the next three months (and they’re still coming) implicating not just producers and directors, but actorscomedians, and politicians. There were men on that list that I looked up to, and this forced a great reconciliation for me – as I’m sure it did for many of you. I chose to believe the survivors, regardless of who they say hurt them.  

By December, the movement became so large and pervasive that Time declared its person of the year “The Silence Breakers.” The women (and men) who spoke out against their abusers were given an unprecedented platform to recount their experiences. Encouraged by these Silence Breakers, more survivors continue to come forward in the new year.

The Road Ahead

Sitting in the drivers’ seats of our lives, we can only look into that rearview mirror for so long. Eventually we have to look forward again, keeping our eyes on the road ahead of us. But there are important lessons to be gleaned from the events of this last year, and even more from those events which didn’t happen.

I would be remiss not to mention the missing intersectionality in many of the cases the media has been headlining.   

Throughout the course of the emergence of the silence breakers, there has been a gross omission of effort to recognize and acknowledge sexual abuse of many other groups. Many of these, like migrant workers, are still experiencing abhorrent behavior at the hands of power structures not unlike those exposed in Hollywood. So, I hope that this is just the beginning of a much larger conversation about not just the highly visible arenas of entertainment and politics.  

It’s January 2018 now, but as all mirrors will remind you, “Objects are closer than they appear.” As you hit the turn signal and take Exit 2018, I would ask you to make sure that you crank the radio up. Listen to what 2017 is telling you, and learn just one thing: the discussion on sexual assault is just beginning.

News Today Sucks

News Today Sucks.

News today sucks.

And while thoughts like “Why am I reading about Kim Kardashian’s latest scandal instead of the slave trade in Libya??” are perfectly fair questions to ask yourself and the media, I want to hone in on something more specific here: media coverage of the anti-sexual assault movement, and content warnings.

This movement, which has had its ups and downs (like most movements in history) is rumbling, and this time it’s bigger than ever. Survivors of sexual assault are choosing to share their stories, perpetrators are being held accountable (for the most part). The media is having a heyday in covering the topic that everyone’s buzzing about, and the conversation surrounding sexual assault is shedding a much-needed light on the rampant issue that it is.

Stigma breaks more and more by the day.

But, as a survivor myself, and also someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I know it can be really horrible to not be able to go on social media or news sites without seeing something about sexual assault—reminding me of my own, reminding me of the times I have or haven’t talked about it, or just reminding me in general how many people have had to go through the same thing (anxiety, flashbacks, sadness, and more). Not to mention the comments section, which is never a place that tends to restore faith in humanity.

Is a lot of the coverage great? Yes.

Do survivors’ and allies’ voices deserve to be heard, their cases and allegations put in the spotlight if they want to? Of course.

Is this conversation essential to spreading awareness and finding solutions to the issue at its societal core? Yes, yes, yes.

But for me, and for many survivors out there, all of that can be bad for your mental health and well-being.

So here are some tips for staying sane, healthy, calm, and relatively stress-free with all these sexual assault-related stories buzzing around.

1. Give some extra attention to warnings.

  • If a news outlet (or other outlets, like Ulzi) covering the topic is aware of the seriousness of the issue and care about the well-being of their readers, they will have a content warning of some kind before the whole of the content is visible.
  • If it’s not just an article or post, but something like a newsletter sign-up or blog category, check the main blog page or any parenthetical statements in those newsletter sign-up boxes. This means they are providing the content warning at the start (the sign-up), but not in subsequent communications (not in every newsletter or post).
  • There will also be warnings in TV shows and movies. Always easy to find? No. In fact, it may only be a “Some viewers may find the following material disturbing.” Or “Explicit content.” But they’re there (kind of the bare minimum, huh?). You may also even be able to find a review of the episode or film online that will warn more specifically about certain scenes without revealing spoilers.
  • If you are blindsided by triggering content, it is your right to get up and leave, turn the TV off, or whatever you need to do to get yourself out of a harmful situation.

I know it sucks to have to be on the lookout for content warnings, especially when they’re not easy to find. But this is a great way for you to know what kind of content you’re getting into.

2. You do not (I repeat: do NOT) owe anyone your story.

  • The #MeToo movement, and inspiring movements like it, are powerful. They spread awareness and start important conversations. But that DOES NOT mean you owe anyone your story.
  • You do not need to share your story to make your experience valid. And people who tell you otherwise don’t know what they’re talking about.
  • Your feelings are valid simply because you are feeling them. You matter. If you don’t want to say #MeToo, that doesn’t mean you aren’t part of the movement. It doesn’t mean you’re not important in this initiative to end sexual assault.

3. Remember that no two stories are alike.

  • If you watch or hear about things like:
    • that episode of 13 Reasons Why where Hannah is assaulted,
    • or that episode of Riverdale where Cheryl’s friends heroically stop her assault,
  • remember that no two stories are alike, and shows like this often don’t include the full story.
  • These types of storylines often skip over the healing process, which doesn’t mean that you should feel rushed or pressured with your own healing process.
  • These storylines also often show only stereotypical situations, which can actually increase stigma and victim blaming tendencies in society. Remind yourself that you know your own experience despite what people might say.
    • If you think people in your life might be undermining your experience, inhibiting your healing process, or making you feel confused or guilty about your experience, you may be dealing with gaslighting. You can learn more about that here, including ways to combat it, safely.

4. Restrict unnecessarily triggering sources.

  • When a news outlet or social media platform often glorifies or sensationalizes issues, they’re likely to do that with most of their content, if not all of it. That’s because clickbait is, well, exactly that, clickable. Those headlines with, “And you’ll never guess what happens next…” are not going to provide a fair and just representation of the story.
  • Clean up your feed, “unlike” some places that write in a sensationalized manner, and tell Facebook to “hide” those kinds of things if they still manage to pop up in your feed (when a friend shares it, for example).
  • There are plenty of news and lifestyle sources that put more care into what their readers are seeing.

So, yeah, news today can really suck.

Scrolling through Facebook can turn into a traumatic experience in itself with little to no warning. But there are ways to combat this, and these tips can help you practice mental well-being as the movement against sexual assault continues.

At Ulzi, we care about you, your stories, your support, your well-being, and your safety above all else. We can stand together not only against sexual assault, but in support of each other as an understanding and healing community.

Have you joined us yet?

If you haven’t, you can click here to change that.

If you enjoyed this article, here is an exclusive and inspiring story about several fraternities and sororities that have pledged to stand against sexual assault.

Ulzi hug ulzi app freedom community campus safety family locator gps phone tracker emergency alert system

8 Greek Life Chapters Just Pledged to End Sexual Assault with Ulzi

Ulzi’s mission to spread awareness about sexual assault is reaching California schools faster than we could have imagined. At Cal Poly, 100% of members from 8 Greek life chapters have already committed to taking a stand against sexual assault by downloading the Ulzi app when it’s released.

Ulzi ARI community

We caught up with the members and presidents from each of these Cal Poly chapters to ask what this issue means to them, and congratulate them for being some of the first organizations to take this initiative.

To see more, visit the individual chapter articles below, and spread the word!

You can pledge here, and learn more about Ulzi and what we’re up to by following us on social media @ulziofficial.

sexual assault online training ulzi app freedom community campus safety family locator gps phone tracker emergency alert system

Students: Do Anti-Sexual Assault Courses Actually Work?

Let’s talk training. Universities insist online sexual assault awareness training is working. But does the data show that?

Universities around the country have begun implementing sexual assault awareness and prevention training programs at an increased rate (since the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act was passed in 2013).

For most college students, this is old news, as many universities have already begun to require students participate in some form of compulsory bystander intervention and awareness training.

The most widespread program is a 45-minute course created by the company EverFi called Haven. As of the 2015-2016 school year, Haven has been implemented in over 600 universities in the United States (npr.org), making it the effective benchmark for online awareness and prevention programs at higher education institutions. However, how well does compulsory online sexual assault training work?

Effecting real change, or fulfilling a requirement?

Critics of this program and others like it worry that the marketing campaigns of these companies have taken advantage of the immediate need of universities to fulfill the requirements of the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act. Plus, with universities all over the country coming under fire for their handling of sexual assault cases on campuses, the desire for programs which can be implemented quickly and efficiently has outweighed the desire to effect actual change on college campuses.

In some cases, the efficacy of bystander intervention programs has been abysmally low – as demonstrated in a 2011 study, published by Violence Against Women, which concluded that

there was little to no change in the number of sexual assaults, despite an increased rate of “prosocial bystander behavior” – the number of times a bystander intervened.

The creation of effective awareness and prevention training can’t be reactive. That is, training that will actually make a difference will be initiatives that are incentivized by a call for real change, not a desire to meet minimum requirements.

Schools and universities need to be creating comprehensive programs which are:

  1. geared towards providing both the training that their students need to become aware – programs like Haven –
  2. as well as programs which give students the immediate tools to keep themselves safe.

One such program, the Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act program has yielded very promising results. During a trial which was conducted amongst first year university students EAAA results saw a drop of 46% in completed rapes and a drop of 63% in attempted rapes. (!)

Critics of this program point out that while effective, it still puts the pressure on the at-risk individuals to protect themselves, rather than on preventing potential perpetrators through education on consent.

Think of it this way, though. Bystander intervention training, which Haven focuses on in conjunction with awareness training, is similar in some ways to vaccination. The strength of vaccines lies in the communal protection they provide. When the majority of people are vaccinated against a virus, there is a low likelihood that a virus will spread or that you will contract a virus.

Bystander intervention works to increase the number of aware individuals and arm them with knowledge which may help them prevent a sexual assault from happening.

However, this requires that a large number of people are both aware and willing to intervene. In this case, defensive training which is created specifically for women would serve as an emergency room or urgent care – providing a service to at-risk individuals who need tools for prevention before a large population can be given bystander intervention training. In a strong healthcare system, both of these would be implemented to give the strongest chance of reducing the number of cases of a virus or illness.

On the Way to Prevention Altogether

Many universities appear to treat the 2013 legislation as a box to check during their orientation programs, but doing the minimum work required won’t be enough to significantly reduce sexual assaults. Students around the country lack the resources and proper training to do their part to end sexual assault.

Shouldn’t universities be doing everything in their power to give students those tools? Bystander intervention training and preventative training for at-risk individuals – these prevention tactics are not mutually exclusive.

Courses like Haven may be the benchmark for sexual assault prevention on college campuses, but don’t students deserve as many tools as a university can provide to help keep them safe?


Universities and individuals have a role to play in addressing and ending sexual assault. Do you know yours?

Ulzi community ulzi app freedom community campus safety family locator gps phone tracker emergency alert system

Community & Prevention – What’s Your Role?

Justice has long been a topic society uses to measure when an issue has been addressed. It drives the world’s conflicts, resolutions, mistakes, successes, and people will often question the laws, rules, and feelings they’re subjected to with the question: is this just?

To remove justice from the equation is to remove a decisive principle from the United States’
societal train of thought. So, justice is crucial.

So when it comes to intense, uncomfortable, emotion-inducing topics like sexual assault, it’s no surprise that justice and retribution typically become the cornerstone of discussion.

“Victims need justice.” “Victims deserve justice.”

But, although these types of statements are absolutely true, they are proclamations we say to
make the grave and prevalent issue of sexual assault easier to tackle. We attempt to mitigate the issue through justice, over and over again, as opposed to addressing the issue at its core and preventing the crime in the first place.

But rape and harassment are problems across our society – 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime and 1 in 4 women will be raped during their college career (NSVRC), and the core of the issue cannot be changed through justice alone. Stopping the movement here is unacceptable given the technology—and awareness which comes with it—that we have in the United States.

Something has to change

Obviously, the issue at hand is not as straightforward as we would like it to be. But that doesn’t mean it can be ignored, simplified, or swept under the rug the way sexual assault has been in the past. People all over the U.S.—and the globe—have begun a movement: of speaking out and calling for change, being active in this struggle against the perpetrators of sexual assault and violence.

Let’s keep the momentum going

Rape, unconsented contact, aggression, and drugging all require the active response of those in the community who can, and will, make a difference. We, as citizens of the world, can continue to work on stopping sexual assault. So how could any one person make a difference?

Prevention

The best way to help survivors is to keep them from becoming survivors. The way society often allows the privileged to escape their crimes must be stopped, and the first step in the right direction is to limit the potential for sexual crimes to occur at all. Given the right technology and awareness, we all can play a role in breaking down stigma and stopping sexual violence before it happens.

Education

Another aspect of prevention is education. Education creates a conversation on how to properly, clearly communicate consent as well as help many gain an awareness for the issue at hand.

The lack of widespread, impactful education thus far is not just an issue of opinion or perspective. In 2015, Tara E. Sutton and Leslie Gordon Simons published a journal article that discussed their research in the face of the “inadequacies of many universities … effectively [addressing] this problem” (p. 2827). They worked with over 600 college students, looking at relationships, past experience, hook-up culture, and upbringing to try and find some sort of relevant pattern in the hopes of colleges “[drawing] upon these findings to inform the development of sexual assault prevention efforts, including programs that address alcohol awareness” (p. 2838). Education can stop perpetrators, increase awareness, and prevent harm.

Being an active bystander

In shifting the solution to sexual assault from justice to prevention, we all have a role to play.

Be the change in your community, in spreading awareness, supporting survivors, and being an active bystander in situations where someone needs help. Prevention is something we can all work towards together, as a community.


Ulzi is on a mission to promote awareness, prevention, healing, and safety through the power of community, and we want to help you in the fight against sexual assault.

 

Have a story to share? We’d love to hear from you. Please email our Editor in Chief, Hannah, at hannah@ulzi.com. You may choose to remain anonymous, and we won’t publish your story without your permission. Thank you for sharing your story; you are crucial in our community’s effort to ending sexual assault.

Ulzi gaslighting ulzi app freedom community campus safety family locator gps phone tracker emergency alert system

Gaslighting: A Second Trauma

It’s a fearful thing, to question your reality. To feel like no one understands your experience. To go through gaslighting.

Unfortunately, it happens a lot more than we think, and not enough people are aware of the act or its consequences.

Consciously or not, those unsupportive of a survivor or those uneducated about consent often gaslight survivors, undermining their experience and further adding to the trauma of a sexual assault.

What is gaslighting?

Simply defined, gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse “in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.”

The term originally came from the 1938 play Gas Light (known as Angel Street in the United States). In the play, a husband targets his wife by making small changes to their environment, and then discredits and manipulates her into believing she is mistaken or delusional when she notices them.

This manipulation is extremely dangerous, especially to survivors of a trauma like sexual assault, who often rely on the trust and support of their network during the healing process. Experiencing gaslighting may cause survivors to feel even more alone, isolated, and unsupported – even by those closest to them.

While a long-term community effort to educate and spread awareness about gaslighting is needed to prevent the act entirely, you can mitigate and address the issue by identifying instances and warning signs, better supporting the survivors of abuse in your life.

Phrases to be wary of

  1. “That never happened.”

This is the most straightforward gaslighting technique: bluntly telling a survivor their experience didn’t happen. This can be common with survivors of sexual assault, who are often told they are just overreacting or that their experience didn’t “actually count” as rape or assault due to their environment, alcohol, or their relationship with their attacker.

These comments can hurt the most when coming from loved ones. A survivor can begin to question their own memory and the validity of their emotions when those closest to them discredit their pain.

This, in turn, feeds the stigma surrounding sexual assault, silences the survivor, and drastically inhibits the healing process.

  1. “You’re just being crazy.”

Sexual assault is a deeply traumatic experience. And like many traumatic experiences, it can come with a variety of emotional responses. While survivors can process in many ways (grappling with fear, panic, anger, and more) there is no “wrong” way to feel. All of these feelings are understandable responses – and survivors don’t owe society any specific reaction. Unfortunately, some people use these normal emotions against the survivor themselves.

Survivors can report, survivors can stay home, survivors can feel all kinds of emotions (or lack thereof) and still have just as valid of an experience.

When non-stereotypical responses are quickly equated to either “acting crazy” or “being fake,” and when the survivor isn’t taken seriously, this can often feel like a second trauma piled on top of the first.

  1. “How could you say that about _____? They’re so nice!”

The blame for sexual assault falls on the attacker, not the survivor. All the same, some might (again, consciously or not) try to look at the story in the attacker’s favor – perhaps because they personally have a good relationship with the attacker, or it doesn’t add up with what they thought they knew about that person.

A frequent example of this can be found in the media whenever a high-profile assault occurs. Multiple headlines memorably referred to Brock Turner as a “successful Stanford swimmer,” even though this had no bearing in the story of him raping an unconscious woman.

Switching the narrative in this way makes the attacker sound like a victim. And when the attacker is painted sympathetically, the survivor of the crime gathers that their pain and experience is not valid in the school or justice system.

Just as with the wife in Gas Light, that twisting of reality can make a person feel even further wronged, confused, helpless, and alone.

How to end gaslighting

  1. Identify it.

The first step in fighting gaslighting is learning to recognize the signs. This is often the hardest, yet most important, step in fighting gaslighting.

Do certain people in your life instantly question your judgement, memory, or the validity of your experiences? Do they say you’re being “too sensitive,” dismiss your emotions, or make you feel guilty about bringing it up? If so, you might be experiencing gaslighting.

A few more common phrases are:

  • “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”
  • “You don’t even know what real abuse is.”
  • “You ruin my night when you talk about this.”
  1. Believe in yourself.

The key act in gaslighting is manipulating the survivor to believe they can’t trust their own memories and emotions. By causing them to doubt themselves, they will stay quiet with their issues and think they’re the ones responsible for their own suffering.

In the end, this only isolates the survivor more, making them unable to reach out to others when they need it most, because they’re so conflicted with themselves.

Once you start recognizing the signs of gaslighting, make a list of these situations. It can be easier to believe your own reality when you see a literal pattern of manipulation and word twisting.

Be gentle and positive. Be compassionate towards yourself and know that the emotions you feel are valid because you are feeling them and your experience is real, and it matters. Remind yourself that your memories are true and your experiences are important.

  1. Take a stand.

If you are emotionally ready, call out people who are unfairly discrediting you. Let them know that they’re not treating you with respect and not giving your assault the seriousness it deserves.

If this is too stressful or taxing, it is also perfectly acceptable to stick with more understanding loved ones until you feel more steady, or seek support with an organization or counselor. There are resources and support groups for survivors in all stages of healing. Remember, you don’t have to fight gaslighting on your own. Personal well-being should always come first.


Many people have experienced gaslighting without realizing it has a name. By being able to identify it, survivors can protect themselves and allies can push back against abusers. Remember to start by believing survivors who confide in you and to support them in any way you can. With a greater awareness and a forward-moving community, unknowing gaslighters might learn the impact of their words and how to speak in a more educated, empathetic way, and all survivors of assault can get the support, understanding, and healing they deserve.

Ulzi privacy safety ulzi app freedom community campus safety family locator gps phone tracker emergency alert system

The Odds of Connectivity

Privacy. A relatively new topic that’s been dominating the media and public concern.

Tracking, advertising, spying, and cookies are all buzzwords that float around the debates on privacy. It seems as though—especially recently—modern society has a real issue dealing with human rights in regard to privacy.

But, where does this growing alarm stem?

Odds are if you’re reading this right now, if you’re not reading this ON your smartphone, there is one nearby. Mine is sitting next to me as I type this.

The trepidation surrounding privacy is understandable, since smartphones bring fears of tracking, recording, and potentially eavesdropping. And from this perspective, it is normal that we all would have a serious, vested interest in our privacy.

In response to this feeling of lack of control, some people might be tempted to reject technology, leaving smartphones behind. Yet, it seems unreasonable to travel without complete and total reachability since we’ve become so accustomed to it, especially in the U.S.

So, we are connected. We are available at almost any time of day. We are accountable for what we are doing almost all the time.

Potential positives of greater connectivity

Uzi privacy

Whether it be long and daunting terms of service agreements or pop-up windows that tell us our browser must allow cookies, we are continually manipulated by corporations. We struggle to reconcile with the results of sleazy business tactics and the famous dark patterns that capture consumers in a cycle that spoils privacy.

Oftentimes—and for good reason—we are blind to the potential positives of this connectivity because we have become commoditized by it. But, there are clear positives to the connectivity that the internet and smartphones have brought to us.

We can become increasingly accountable, transparent, and aware, helping us build greater communities.

Connectivity is a double-edged sword. If you’re not controlling it, it acts as a force that seems to entrench on your rights. If you are controlling it, connectivity can become a first-rate tool in assisting both you and your fellow community members.

Harmony & accountability in the greater population

Harmony is a term that has historically been used to describe a plurality of ideas, and I want to be obvious with what I mean by societal harmony. The core context for our conversation is safety. In this vision of societal harmony, a person ideally would be left in the same state or better-off after every interaction with another member of society. Not that lofty of an idea, but it seems hard to actually execute.

This idea is not new; we as humans have been trying to fix our world ceaselessly.

Unprecedented connection

What is new is this interconnection with each other at the level achievable right now.

The technology we have at our fingertips is an unprecedented development in human history, and if utilized in the right way, this double-edged sword could provide a path to a greater and safer everyday reality.

The global community has unearthed a great potential in technology that everyone can join in on.

An opportunity has presented itself, and it can lead us to a safer, friendlier global community.

Connectivity can bring sorely needed aid to anyone, if only the people capable of providing that aid are aware. And with smartphones and the internet, this kind of potential is at our disposal.

The power of the ostensive good

Facebook popularized this notion through their mission statement. Though at first it echoed,

“Making the world more open and connected,”

the company faced heavy criticism,  and was accused of inspiring difference and conflict rather than bringing people closer together. Their new mission statement reads,

“Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

A common argument leveraged against them is that this positive connectivity relies on the hope that the ostensive-good remains good, and it must be regulated by an opaque, private corporation.

What this instance has shown the world is that, in order for technology to bring true connectivity, it requires transparency and community to be prevalent in delivery.

The corruptible few & the transparent majority

If everyone is aware of what is happening, then the corruptible few are at odds with the transparent majority. If we all work to create technologies that rely on community, then information becomes our ally, not our detriment. Connectivity can be a great ally of community if kept in check by the community. This might sound abstract, vague, or over-the-top, but there is an actual and practical result.

As Ulzi, a technological initiative to bring awareness to and prevent sexual assault, we aren’t just sending notifications to a select few. Ulzi works by employing the power of connection to all, not just the powerful, and builds on the technology and awareness that is flourishing more and more in society today. The more of us that are present and mindful, the more protected each and every member of society becomes.

What we can do

Interconnecting will prevent an individual from abusing the system. Ulzi is one of the many organizations trying to take that next step in turning our constant connectivity into an earnest and helpful tool, rather than a method to sell widgets. Through the amazing abilities that modern technology has created, everyone has the liberty to impact change in the community and set a precedent by using our connectivity for the betterment of humanity.

Many people today are on a mission to promote awareness, prevention, healing, and safety through the power of community. Here’s how you can be a part of it.

Join the conversation. Take the pledge. Lead the change in your community.

Ulzi team ulzi app freedom community campus safety family locator gps phone tracker emergency alert system

PRESS RELEASE — Ulzi: A Student-Led Initiative to Change the Statistics of Sexual Assault

Ulzi community logo

Contact    Hannah Joslin, Editor in Chief

Phone      (661) 877-6373

Email       hannah@ulzi.com

Website   ulzi.com

**The following material may be triggering to those affected by sexual assault**

ULZI: A STUDENT-LED INITIATIVE TO CHANGE THE STATISTICS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT

For Immediate Release

San Luis Obispo, CA, 15 November 2017— Ulzi is a tech company committed to making communities around the world a safer place for everyone by harnessing the power of community and crowdsourced safety.

Two years ago, the organization began as a platform for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories, often for the first time ever, and raise awareness about a highly stigmatized crime.

“As a parent and a survivor of rape and sexual assault, I am behind everything Ulzi stands for, and I believe we have a real opportunity to change the statistics related to sexual assault with Ulzi’s free community-based app.” – Sheri Poe, Award-winning Entrepreneur, Internationally-Renowned Speaker, Rape Survivor, Ulzi Advisor

Stories poured in by the hundreds, making one thing clear: the tools people needed and wanted to make their communities safer simply didn’t exist. Beyond awareness of the issue, the key to ending sexual assault is to empower people to prevent assault before it happens.

In 2018, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo will become ground zero for the launch of the first crowdsourced safety app specifically tasked with ending sexual assault on college campuses.

Fraternities and sororities, one by one, are pledging to keep their communities safe. Greek organizations are standing up and committing to be the first to download the Ulzi app when it’s released and to be active bystanders in the fight against sexual assault, whether it be ensuring their friends get home safely after a party or coming to the aid of a neighbor.

Ulzi began engaging with Greek life in mid-October, and the number of committed members continues to rise. Thus far, six of Cal Poly’s fraternities have seen 100% of their members commit, including Delta Chi, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Zeta Beta Tau, Lambda Chi Alpha, Sigma Nu, and Delta Sigma Phi (graphs below constantly updating). Zeta Beta Tau has pledged over 100%, getting their local alumni to pledge, making them the first Greek Life chapter to become an Ulzi-approved organization, and Alpha Omicron Pi at Cal Poly was the first sorority to reach 100%.

“I think what Ulzi’s done right here is acknowledge that there’s more to be done about sexual assault than providing awareness and support after the fact. There’s an opportunity here to prevent an assault from happening in the first place, and I’m proud of my organization for being one of the first to pledge to do that. Everyone deserves to feel safe on a college campus; if our fraternity can help make that happen, we’re going to do it.” – Jacob Winter, President of Zeta Beta Tau at Cal Poly

These organizations are the first to pledge to be the change in their community, the first to proactively stand against sexual violence before it occurs and provide places where students feel safe.

“I am incredibly proud to be a part of such a strong, remarkable, and charitable organization in AOII. It is humbling to see our sisterhood extending beyond social events in order to stand with the community that is working towards the betterment and security of our town.” – Katie Segars, Alpha Omicron Pi at Cal Poly

Ulzi is traveling across California now to present to Greek Life and other organizations at schools like University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, and San Diego State University. Ulzi hopes to connect students and communities, to empower everyone to keep each other safe and accountable.

This movement is unlike any other for two reasons: it engages men in unprecedented numbers (44%), and it focuses on prevention.

The engagement and commitment Ulzi has experienced from men is unheard of in the fight to end sexual assault. So often men are silent on the topic of sexual violence, but the current generation of college students is breaking through the gendered boundaries of the issue, and acknowledging their role in ending sexual violence on college campuses.

A pledge to download Ulzi is a pledge to become an active participant in sexual assault prevention, a needed step in the environment built by various other organizations who provide the support to survivors and help spread awareness. Ulzi’s goal is to address the issue of sexual assault by stopping sexual assaults before they happen. Ulzi is calling on community members to pledge to be the first to download the Ulzi app when it’s released (see Pledge Now link below).

Imagine millions of people working together toward a common goal: making their communities safer and looking after one another. Ulzi is the best way to keep people you love safe.

“Our mission is to promote awareness, prevention, and safety through the power of community, and students can help us get there. We were astounded by the huge response we got, so everyone on the team is trying to figure out how to make this bigger than just Cal Poly. You know, will this go beyond Cal Poly, to all of California, and across the nation? We have a real opportunity to positively impact communities everywhere, and I hope we can keep the momentum going.” – Maxwell Fong, Co-Founder, Ulzi

Learn MorePledge Now — Connect with Ulzi on Social Media @UlziOfficial

** If you are having trouble accessing the graphs below, please click here from a desktop **

1 in 4 sexual assault ulzi app freedom community campus safety family locator gps phone tracker emergency alert system

The Stagnant Reality of the ‘1 in 4 Women’ Statistic

The shocking statistic that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their college career dominates headlines about sexual assault on college campuses.

Oftentimes, these headlines question the validity of the statistic, or worse yet, minimize the issue by speaking about “how far we’ve come.”

While we as a nation have made great strides in spreading awareness and information about sexual assault, movements like #MeToo cannot stop until the statistic has proven lowered and the issue is properly addressed by our society and our communities as a whole (where the solution lies in prevention of the crime in the first place, not in justice after the crime has taken place).

The 1 in 4 statistic has been a disappointingly stagnant number for the last few decades. But why? What caused such a counterintuitive shift in the number of women subjected to a terrible crime?

A possible answer lies in a number of factors, which could help to contextualize the numbers these studies publish, and shed light on the reality of the situation over time.

Where do these numbers come from, and what do they mean in our fight against sexual assault?

Since the Justice Department funded a study in 2007 which found that 19% of female students at two large universities had experienced sexual assault—either attempted or completed—the statistic has been a calling cry for the fight against sexual assault on campus. The statistic was then further cemented with a much larger study carried out by the Association of American Universities in 2015, which caused an even larger media outcry than the previous study. The A.A.U. reported the percentage of women surveyed at the 27 schools whom had been sexually assaulted was roughly 23%. This caused the headline statistic to jump from one in five, to one in four women. There was a decade, countless resources, and a tremendous effort from sexual assault prevention advocates, yet the percentage of women assaulted on college campuses appeared to increase.

The collection of the numbers themselves influenced the public outlook on sexual assault on campuses as a whole. The A.A.U. intentionally warned against using their statistic in a generalized sense—that is, they specifically asked that the number not be generalized to all college campuses across the United States. Within any survey, there will be response bias. No one was forced to take the survey. This resulted in a number of complications when trying to compile the data, as students who were not sexually assaulted were likely not motivated to answer the survey. There is a strong possibility that this could have inflated the number of students assaulted even after measures were taken to account for this kind of response bias, which the A.A.U. readily admits in the report’s executive summary.

This presents a dilemma for media outlets, because statistics are dependent upon their context. When they report that nearly one in four women are sexually assaulted, they inherently receive more attention for their article—and more attention is then paid to the issue. However, inflating numbers like this can cause a seriously demoralizing blow to organizations fighting to combat sexual assault, putting them under undue scrutiny and allowing blame to fall on them for not fixing an extremely complex issue.

How then do we use the A.A.U. report’s findings?

Compare the 2007 and 2015 studies. The former examined just two schools, the latter 27. In surveys, the larger sample typically returns numbers which more closely resemble the true statistics. So when the larger study returns a higher rate of sexual assault, it can be argued that this number—23%—is closer to the true number of women who experienced sexual assaults, but it also calls into question the thoroughness of the earlier study. With only two schools, the 19% which was found in the 2007 study shouldn’t be generalized far beyond the constraints in which the data was gathered, there’s just too much variation, too high a chance the study had gotten a bad apple, or even a good one.

In this case, the numbers suggest that the schools surveyed by the Justice Department may have had lower rates of sexual assault than the average American university. What this really tells us is that the harder we look for it, the more we find cases of sexual assault on campuses.

Why then do the numbers we uncover in studies conflict so strongly with the numbers which are found in government crime databases?

There is a fairly straight forward answer: sexual assault survivors don’t feel safe reporting the abuse.

Sexual assault is a horribly damaging crime which often leaves victims feeling unable, conflicted, or afraid to seek justice. Even worse are the cases where victims don’t know that they’ve been assaulted, allowing the crime to go essentially unnoticed. Only one in five women sexually assaulted report the crime to an authority, and even fewer report the crime to police according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. RAINN derives much of this information from the same A.A.U. study conducted in 2015. Both the Justice Department and A.A.U. studies pointed to a number of issues which contributed to such low rates of reporting; the two most prominent were fear of backlash or reprisal for the report, or the belief that the matter was personal in nature, therefore not something to be made public.

Further complication of the collection of reliable data

Interestingly, though, lack of confidence in standard judicial channels—the belief that nothing will come of reporting sexual assault—makes up a larger percentage of responses from college students than women of the same age who do not attend higher education. While the lack of reporting to authorities doesn’t discount the findings of an anonymous survey, the hesitance of victims to report the crime does suggest there could be missing affirmations of sexual assault within the two surveys. This doesn’t necessarily mean more assaults happened than researchers thought, but it could further complicate the collection of reliable data.

Further issues with surveys can be found in their methodology, in the way that they ask questions within the survey. Spurred by a broad and often-changing definition of sexual assault, many researchers attempt to use language in their surveys which gathers data on forms of sexual assault which are less well-known as assault.

For instance, the Justice Department defines sexual assault as “unwanted sexual contact between a victim and an offender,” and it “may or may not involve force and includes grabbing or fondling” (11). In the very same document, the authors admit that the definition of sexual assault can be different depending on the jurisdiction where the crime is reported.

This affected the survey questions in both the 2007 and 2015 studies. Those researchers needed to find ways of asking the subjects about unwanted sexual contact in an abundance of ways, without explicitly stating it as sexual assault.

Suppose one school is in a state where sexual assault is defined by the letter of the law as being extremely broad, maybe including an unwanted kiss. Another school may have been in a state where the law defines sexual assault as repeated unwanted groping, but kissing is never mentioned. Asking students in the first state if they’d been sexually assaulted could potentially result in a higher response rate than the second state, so researchers chose to ask more questions about specific kinds of unwanted contact. The researchers then used a very broad definition of sexual assault for their percentages of sexual assault on college campuses. However, some of those students assaulted may not have been able to even pursue legal action following the crime.

The problem then becomes that there could still be jurisdictions where some forms of sexual assault are not formally recognized as a crime, a tragedy which makes the one in four statistic an even more frightening figure.

None of these reasons in any way diminish the power of the A.A.U. report. The statistic remains a powerful gauge for the pervasiveness of sexual assaults on those 27 college campuses. The definition of sexual assault is broadening (both for prevention advocates and legislations), growing efforts to destigmatize conversations allows for more accurate surveying, and increased efforts by researchers to gather more data result in the discovery of more occurrences of sexual assault than previous methods had been able to obtain.

The importance of contextualization

The statistic, while grim and disheartening, is actually a sign of greater awareness of the issue than has been present in the general awareness of the American public.

Rather than viewing the stagnancy of that statistic over time as the failure of countless resources and efforts to prevent sexual assaults on campus, the statistics should be seen as measures of improved efforts to identify and track sexual assault on college campuses.

Don’t allow quick facts and easy numbers to drive you into fear or complacency. Passion—strong emotional responses to the continued victimization of college students—is a powerful tool in the fight against sexual assault, but understanding the numerical trends of this same victimization must be a focus for those who want to make change happen on nationwide scale.

Research the statistics. Contextualize.

Join the Ulzi community to promote prevention, spread awareness, break stigma, and be the solution in your community.

definition of Ulzi community ulzi app freedom community campus safety family locator gps phone tracker emergency alert system

A Community Interwoven

Dictionaries can define it, neighborhoods can promote it, and marketers will use it. Community, though, isn’t a ploy to drive sales or a smattering of words and fine print on paper.

What is community?

It is the people around you, the feeling of belonging that they give you. It is the safety and security which is found in a home where the bed in the room next to yours is filled with a parent, a friend, a protector. It is the accountability that you feel to your friends and family. Seemingly intangible traits which are as important to us as any physical currency.

You could also describe community as a web of connections. While connections can be weak or strong, they all represent the interactions that you have with the people around you. Weaker connections are fleeting, coming and going almost instantly—the likes that you receive on social media or quick eye contact made with someone while walking on the street.

Strong connections, though, can form an emotional context with others. This is how communities are built, from the familiar faces of baristas at your favorite coffee shop to your best friends and roommates. The connections that link members of a community together become increasingly interwoven over time, creating systems of emotional links so complicated and spread out that a single tragedy can be felt like a ripple through every connected heartstring.

However, there seems to be a paradoxical relationship between community and technology. The interconnectedness of social media appears to isolate individuals rather than bring them together. The coffee shop becomes full of faces buried in phones, and a home becomes roommates trapped in their own personal dungeons of monitors and headphones.

Who We Are

Ulzi—as a technology company—seeks to break through that isolation, promoting awareness of issues and spurring users to action at the climax of a dangerous event. These connections will drive not just vanity and clicks, but an ever increasing accountability to those around you.

This connectedness is the inspiration behind Ulzi’s name. Ulzi is a knot representing the infinite crossing of paths and the interconnectedness of people which forms the basis of a community, the codependence on one another forming a web of safety and security for every community member.

At Ulzi, we strive to provide the tools we all need to make an impact, to reduce sexual violence and help keep others safe. Too often the focus of advocacy is centered on punishment and justice.

True social justice lies in prevention of violence, not punishment for it. Ulzi’s mission is to promote awareness of sexual violence, prevent it from happening whenever possible, and provide a place for healing for survivors and community members.

Through awareness we will poise communities for change. Once poised we give them tools to act for prevention, a clear path to intervening at the moment of violent action and preventing irreparable harm. For those times that it is impossible or too late to help, we provide an outlet for survivors to share their story, to mobilize their pain for advocacy and awareness.

Break stigma, spread awareness, and be the solution in your community.