The design principles driving Chayn’s Soul Medicine

Behind the scenes of Soul Medicine

Soul Medicine
Published in
5 min readApr 13, 2018


All women deserve to feel heard. That’s the reason I’m working with Soul Medicine; a service by Chayn that enables women in abusive relationships to take control over their lives. Our content creators are currently chopping up and simplifying complex Chayn guides on topics such as building a legal case against an abuser, managing finances and self confidence. We’re designing a service that allows this content to truly reach these women.

We believe in transparency and hence, want to give you a little sneak peek into our process. I am really curious to hear your ideas, so please comment below!

Why are we doing this?

We started talking about why this project exists in the first place. Soul Medicine was born out of Chayn, an award-winning platform providing essential knowledge that helps women in abusive relationships make more empowered decisions. Chayn’s founder, Hera Hussain, explains that she started Chayn after helping out her cousin, who was in an abusive relationship. Hera took her to a lawyer who laid out her rights.

If I would have known my rights earlier, I wouldn’t have stayed with him for four years”

- Hera’s friend, later on in an interview.

Knowledge really is power, and this realisation is key to this project. What if women all around the world are able to access their rights? What if we can support each other and make each other feel heard, instead of victim blaming?

Chayn’s content has already reached over 200,000 people, and through Soul Medicine, I’m sure we can reach many more.

How to reach people who (almost) no one is reaching:

Chayn’s past collaboration, Tech vs. Abuse laid out an amazing groundwork that Soul Medicine could use to select the most requested content by women: :

  • Money management
  • Legal case building
  • Self confidence
  • Asylum processes
  • How to deal with stress and lack of sleep
  • DIY online safety

Some of these already exist as Chayn guides, while others need to be created from scratch. Tying these together into one coherent experience is a complex challenge that we face. That’s why we started with creating some design principles that put some focus upon design choices and create consistency throughout the experience. This would also help other charities who may decide to host their own content on the platform in the future. Here’s what we found most important in creating Soul Medicine:

Design Principles


Our users may face serious repercussions by their abusers if they are found using our product, so this is a serious one. We need to minimise the risk our user is taking by designing for anonymity (challenging as it is on the Internet) and even secrecy (such as setting a personal ‘safe time’ when the user receives content). As we mapped our Design Principles along a Maslow pyramid, we all agreed safety is the prime base we need to address for this user group.


The women in our target group may experience high cognitive load or more constraints such as having limited access to Internet, and even little to no privacy. In every design decision we make, we must focus on what would bring essential information and connections to our community. In other words, how might we make essential knowledge as accessible as getting a Coca Cola from the corner drugstore?


Many people in abusive relationships can feel blocked by shame. That’s understandable because hardships are typically still stigmatized, but change is coming and we are a part of that. We are survivor-led, and see the power in every woman. It’s our mission to help women feel this power too. How might we make our users feel like they have a friend that makes them feel heard?


Intersectional design means keeping in mind the different ways in which an individual may be oppressed. There’s not one single story that any woman belongs to, so whether it’s a story about her gender, ethnicity, class or age: it will never tell her whole story. Designing content to empower women in abusive relationships therefore means looking at possible wider contexts: is she a refugee, is she financially insecure, is she suffering from mental health issues? In creating Soul Medicine, how might we include and account for as many stories as possible?


If “Safety” is the base of our Maslow pyramid, “Enabling Women” is our peak. We are aiming for a confidence boost that goes deeper than just getting a new outfit. We want to trigger small actions that women can be proud of, not necessarily leaving one’s partner (that’s not necessarily the goal) but rather feeling able to actively make decisions about one’s life. Enabling design means putting the user in the driver’s seat of her life, not telling her where to go.

After we were done creating the Design Principles, we dove into each course and discussed the structure for each. At the check-out, we all felt confident in addressing the challenge we have ahead of us.

Next up…

Right now, our writers are busy writing up this very content. The content that is the backbone of this critical project. We’re really curious to hear your ideas about this project in the comments section below!

In the next few weeks, we will be testing our first prototypes, and we need your help to make it work. We are very curious to speak with potential users so that we can continue to “design with, not for”. So, if you (or someone you know) want to be one of our testers, DM me or get in touch with us at



Soul Medicine

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