DocuSafe: An app that acts are your own secret evidence room
Launched in the US and available in India, it is designed to help victims of abuse collect data and evidence from a range of platforms and store it in one secure location.
It took the young woman about six months to gather the courage to file a police complaint against her stalker. She first tried ignoring his texts, even switching off her phone for a while each time he called. After her complaint, her lawyer asked her to get together all her evidence of the harassment. “I hadn’t kept his texts,” she says.
A victim of abuse or harassment is rarely thinking of collecting evidence as the crime unfolds. To try and bridge the gap this constitutes when it comes to prosecution and law enforcement, an American organisation called the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) has launched DocuSafe, a free app designed to help survivors collect data and evidence from a range of platforms and store it in one secure location.
This intervention was several years in the making, says Shalini Batra, a project specialist with the organisation. NNEDV works closely with NGOs who work in victim support in the US. “Over the years, we heard about how challenging it was for survivors to organise and share evidence,” Batra says.
In addition to safeguarding text messages, social media posts, videos and phone logs, DocuSafe also has a facility where victims can log a record of incidents of harassment or abuse. “It is important to show patterns of harassment and stalking,” Batra says.
There is an option to securely share files via the app. The app is available in India.
This kind of storage can be useful for victims who have the proper coping mechanisms and are in the right frame of mind to take their case forward according to Sandamita Choudhury, a clinical psychologist at the mental wellness health institute Mind India.
Ideally, there should be empathetic human intervention too, to guide victims to take the right steps and offer moral, legal and emotional support. “There could be cases where having an entire store of negative information could be potentially harmful to their own state of mind too,” Choudhury says. “But in cases where there is no such vulnerability, the very act of organising this information could create a sense of confidence, leading the person to stop delaying and to move ahead with action that could protect them and create distance between them and their abuser.”