Survivors of Domestic Violence Need More Than Sick Days; They Need Practical Tools to Break Free

By Stella Clarke, Legal Research Volunteer, Kona Connect and Mary McKinley, Head of Communications, Kona Connect

Domestic violence is the hidden plague and it is getting worse. The impact of this violence is far reaching and can have serious consequences for both individuals and businesses alike. To combat this issue, Kona Connect has developed “Sophia”, the world’s first chatbot designed to empower domestic violence survivors globally.

The Problem:

Today nearly one in three women and one in seven men experience violence inflicted by an intimate partner during their lifetime.[1] [2] Tragically, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders have fostered a dramatic increase to these already shocking rates of domestic violence across the globe. A variety of factors such as the rise in unemployment, economic stressors and general instability, combined with the social isolation inflicted by lockdown restrictions, have led to an unprecedented wave of gender-based violence that must urgently be fought by both individuals and businesses alike.

What’s more, research shows that the impact of domestic violence is not restricted to the realm of the ‘domestic’ but in fact has significant economic repercussions as well. Domestic abuse directly impacts an individual’s physical and mental health and consequently results in absenteeism and poor employee productivity, which in turn affects a company’s overall growth and progress. Global costs associated with gender-based violence are estimated to be around $3.6 trillion per year! These statistics demonstrate that, alongside the ethical and moral incentives to ending domestic violence, there are significant economic and commercial benefits for your business to fight this problem alongside us.

The Solution:

To tackle this vitally important global issue, our team at Kona Connect have developed “Sophia”, the world’s first chatbot designed to empower domestic violence survivors in three main ways (G.A.L): Gather potential evidence and upload it to a secure digital safe (i.e. a GDPR-compliant server); Assess their rights as survivors; and Learn about their options. Importantly, they will be able to do this irrespective of location and require only internet access via a mobile, tablet or computer to connect with Sophia through popular messaging apps like WhatsApp or Telegram. Unlike other tech solutions available, Sophia’s innovation is that it leaves no digital trace and bypasses problems traditionally associated with apps, which can be found by abusers, crash in dangerously precarious moments, and may be expensive to download. When launched, this technology has the potential to reach both women and men across the world suffering from domestic abuse and empower them with a discreet and thus safer tool to learn about their rights and take action.


Why we need your help now:

In order to launch Sophia and be able to lend a helping hand to these survivors, we urgently need core funding to keep up with the growth and interest in “Sophia”, to ensure advanced tech-security and help spread awareness and reach as many survivors of domestic violence as possible. If one third of women and one in seven men globally experience violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime, it is almost a guarantee that companies within the Business Fights Poverty community have employees currently suffering from domestic abuse and the psychological and physical problems that come with it. This is why we are appealing to businesses within the community to reach out to us now with partnerships, advice, monetary donations, or even publicity in order to help implement Sophia safely and ethically, to benefit not only individuals, but businesses and our wider societies as well. Domestic violence is a global pandemic that cannot be ignored; help us to make a real difference.

To find out more information on how YOU can help us end domestic violence:

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Email: as*@ko**********.org

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[1] UN Women, “Facts and figures: Ending Domestic Violence against women”, March 2021.

[2] Man Kind Initiative, “Statistics on Male Victims of Domestic Abuse”, April 2021.

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