Meet the Women of Chayn behind Comic Relief’s Tech Vs Abuse Research

Tech Vs Abuse team. From the left: Chayn, Safe Lives, Snook, Comic Relief
“What every victim wants [is] a safe place to go. That should include online.”

In the UK, 25 percent of women are affected by domestic violence at least once in their lifetime. Every year, more than two million people go through the trauma of domestic violence in England and Wales. Every month, at least seven women are killed by a former or current partner.

Chayn started from the very idea that women should be able to find all the information they need to make informed decisions about how to deal with abusive relationships. In 2016, Chayn collaborated on a Comic Relief funded project — Tech vs Abuse — with Snook and SafeLives, in order to find out how survivors in UK and service providers were using technology.

This research was carried out over six months and aimed to explore the potential opportunities, gaps and risks presented by technology with respect to domestic violence and abuse. This goal was achieved by gathering insights from more than 200 survivors of domestic abuse (over 18 years of age) and 350 practitioners who support them.

The research included both qualitative user research and quantitative methods. This consisted of online surveys, focus groups, online interviews, informal discussions with practitioners, workshops, and having researchers shadow practitioners and conduct contextual interviews at their workplace.

Comic Relief Day, also known as Red Nose Day is coming up and we want to share with you the stories of volunteers who relentlessly worked together and helped make this collaboration a reality. We, at Chayn have always been very proud of our diverse range of volunteers who bring a large variety of skills to the table. This team was no exception.

Along with founder Hera Hussain, the Chayn team for Tech vs Abuse project was led by five of our exceptional volunteers!

Afsa Akbar: When Afsa is not solving our Chayn problems, she is either busy designing services, building models or building legos with her nephew. She is based in the outskirts of London and describes her job as one which helps to “bridge the gap between people’s needs and experiences.” Her passion for design lies in her deep rooted belief that she can bring positive change in people’s lives.

And she has! For this project, Afsa has not only been a part of the research team, but also helped facilitate the workshop for victims and survivors along with Snook.

According to her, the biggest challenge in this project was getting women to sign up for the workshop. “They had to take a huge leap of faith to share their story with someone they’ve never met,” she muses.

Afsa has also written about the research synthesis here.

Elena Silvestrini: Hater of cats, founder of Chayn Italia and outspoken to boot, Elena identifies herself as an intersectional feminist. Outside of running Chayn Italia, she works on social innovation initiatives, supporting the development of social justice projects through technology and design thinking tools.

For Tech vs Abuse, Elena was a part of the research, interviews, focus groups and putting together the report. She says, “I’m also excited about the potentially future projects that will be funded by our research, which will further opportunities for women experiencing domestic abuse.”

While Elena believes that technology has been pivotal in this project, she also feels that it cannot substitute personal support and women’s aid services. “Technology has to be a tool to create bridges when the connection is not immediately possible,” she said.

Evangelia Kampouri: One of Chayn’s founding members, Evangelia works as a freelance online researcher and has a degree in psychology. She has been working in the fields in issues of domestic violence and abusive relationships for over five years.

Evangelia’s area of expertise enabled her to put together all the questions for the Tech vs Abuse project put forward by the rest of the team and fellow collaborators, and create the survey. Additionally, she contacted influencers to circulate the survey, gathered the responses and transcribed the data. For her, the biggest challenge was to attract the audience without seeming like a spammer.

“Abuse is an extremely isolating experience and being able to share their stories with others who could understand them in a non-judgemental manner made them feel supported and less alone,” she said.

Dina Ariss: Armed with a Masters in Business Finance and Economics, Dina Ariss works as a data analyst and has a deep love for flowers. She is extremely passionate about technology, women and refugees, and has led EmpowerHack’s Refugee Design Council. Dina firmly believes that engaging women in designing solutions is a very important part of women empowerment.

Dina’s brain functions way faster than her motor skills, and she is Chayn’s favourite master of typos! Fortunately, we harnessed her analytical powers to assess all the data from the Tech vs Abuse surveys and interviews. “Being open about violence is not easy, and you could see the courage these women have in their answers. It is very inspiring,” she said.

We also want to give a shout out to other Chayners who have been involved in the research at different junctions such as Kristin Mathiesen who helped us with outreach to survivor groups, Charlotte Seeley Musgrave and Paula Renzel, who helped us crunch the data and many others who gave us ideas on how to design the project.

This project and collaboration would not have been possible without our partners so we wanted to give a big thank you to them. We’ll be interviewing some of them later on but here’s everyone who made this project happen:
Snook: Eve Georgieva, Valerie Carr, Emma Parnell, Charlotte Fountainé, Marie McDermott
SafeLives: Sonal Shenai, Julie Dodd, Miranda Webb, Rachel Ozanne
Comic Relief: Nissa Ramsay, Anya Stern

Have you read the report? You can find it here.