Seek Then Speak from Wilmington-based Ten8Tech allows victims to choose how they want to communicate. (Screenshot courtesy of Ten8Tech)
A technology company headquartered in Wilmington is preparing to unveil a new product aimed at making reporting sexual assault less daunting for victims.
Ten8Tech will introduce Victim Link, a reporting platform for law enforcement agencies and victim advocacy organizations, at the End Violence Against Women International conference in Orlando on April 18. The conference, an annual gathering of criminal justice professionals, victim advocates, health care providers and others in the field, will also give Ten8Tech the opportunity to introduce Victim Link’s victim-focused portal, Seek Then Speak, according to a news release.
Law enforcement and victims’ advocates “need something that’s victim-centered and focused, a specific platform for victims that empowers them to make the decision they want to make without us influencing what they have to do or don’t have to do,” said Anthony Formhals, president and CEO of Ten8Tech, on Thursday.
Formhals, who was born in California, was a police officer with the Chula Vista Police Department for eight years but was still surprised by the low-reporting statistics for sexual assault.
“I had no idea that at best, you’re only going to see 20 percent of the victim's report,” he said. “It’s because the victim is afraid. They’re scared; they don’t know what to expect ... it’s just a bunch of unknowns.”
Formhals said Ten8Tech, founded in 2012, has leveraged its core technology to create Victim Link and facilitate a conversation focused on what victims want.
“It’s our hope that providing knowledge and tools for victims, in a way that has never been done before, will help break the cycle of silence,” he said in the release.
Seek Then Speak allows victims to choose how they want to communicate, whether on the phone with multilingual options, via a mobile app, through a text message interface or the Seek Then Speak website. Victim Link connects victims to local victim advocates and enables reporting to Title IX coordinators, a help line or local law enforcement officials.
“If the victim chooses, the connection is made, but she/he will remain anonymous until a connection is requested,” the release said. “The victim remains in control of the information they share and with whom they share it.”
EVAWI, a nonprofit organization based in the state of Washington, has a tool called Start by Believing, a global campaign that provides public awareness tools, equipping support networks with information on how to respond if someone asks for help.
“When victims are doubted or blamed, they may never tell anyone else,” said Joanne Archambault, chief executive officer of EVAWI, in the release. “Then they won’t get the help they need, and they won’t report the crime. This worsens the victim’s trauma, and creates an environment where perpetrators face zero consequences for their crimes. These three tools – Start by Believing, Seek Then Speak and Victim Link – work together to break this cycle and pave the way for more effective responses.”
In addition to being headquartered in Wilmington with an office on Allens Lane, Ten8Tech has offices in San Diego and Phoenix. The company has about 20 employees, including part-time employees. Its patented Communication Fabric technology enables two-way dialogue with a series of products aimed at simplifying communication between individuals and agencies, according to the news release.
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