Snapchat is an app best known for its colourful (and sometimes flat-out weird) filters as well as sharing silly, throw-away moments with your friends on camera.
But a group of young women have decided to use it for a rather different cause; to talk openly about sexual assault.
The women – who have all been victims of sexual assault or similar events – at Bristol University have used the app to speak out about their experiences in a series of honest videos.
The campaign, #RevoltAgainstSexualAssault, had 10 volunteer students record clips of themselves talking on the app, utilising its filters in a way that preserved their anonymity by covering their faces with emojis.
— Epigram (@EpigramPaper) May 17, 2017
One spoke of how she had been raped three times since starting at the University, explaining that “every time it has been someone that I know, I liked or I loved”.
Another, who filmed with a cloud over her face, said she was attacked by a “drunk friend” she had walked home with: “He told me it’s not rape – you want this,” she recalled.
Hannah Price, a final year mathematics student, leader of the project and online editor at Epigram (the uni’s independent student newspaper), released the videos on the app during a 24-hour period in March.
She explained that the filters and students’ familiarity with Snapchat gave women the confidence to speak out, and that she hoped it would strike a chord with millennials:
“Social media is second nature to millennials,” Hannah said.
“Snapchat is a platform that is led by us.
“While we’ve mastered the filters, the media and businesses have been trying to work out a way to utilise the selfie-taking phenomenon.
“What if it could be used to powerfully humanise and address more serious issues?”
She explained that in India, rape victims have used Snapchat for a similar cause, capturing their stories without breaking local law.
“The app extraordinarily allowed for raw emotion to radiate through their masked identities,” she added.
“This inspired me into thinking about how, as the generation that has propelled Snapchat into success, we could use a similar innovative approach to highlight and humanise sexual assault on campus.
“And that’s exactly what I tried to do with the #RevoltAgainstSexualAssault campaign.”
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