Sophia is the first of its kind: a chatbot available 24/7 to anyone suffering from domestic violence who needs assistance. Regardless of location, connecting with Sophia only requires a smartphone, computer, or tablet with internet access: search for “Sophia Chatbot” in Telegram and Viber or via sophia.chat on any browser and start chatting.Sophia is designed to be a trustworthy and guiding friend of women and men in abusive relationships in three key ways (GAL) :
Sophia – The Chatbot
Gather evidence. Access resources. End domestic violence.
Who or What is “Sophia”?
Sophia allows survivors to upload potential evidence of the abuse happening in their relationship, whether it is a photograph of physical violence, voice memos, screenshots of verbal abuse, or documents highlighting financial withholding. These files are uploaded and securely stored in their personal “vault” on servers located in Switzerland and protected by the highest standard of data privacy rights.
Assess and Know Your Rights
Contacting lawyers and police can feel very intimidating in the best of situations. Especially, though, when individuals may be trying to leave a violent relationship and are unsure what awaits them. Sophia walks them through what they need to know about contacting the police and/or how to find legal assistance. Sophia summarises the procedures and explains some of the rights that survivors have.
Learn about your Options
The information out there is overwhelming. Sophia therefore acts as a guide through the available options and provides online resources and/or a list of local helplines to call, and shelters to contact.
How to chat to Sophia?
”"For so long, I had no clue whether what I was going through was bad enough to warrant help - and some people in my life actively told me it wasn't. It took many long months to believe that I deserved help, let alone to take action – I can only imagine how much faster I would have gotten help if I'd had Sophia."Survivor S. from Lausanne, Switzerland
First tool of its kind?
While there are a handful of apps on domestic violence, “Sophia” is the first tool of its kind as it leaves no digital trace – as a chatbot accessible through popular messenger apps, there’s nothing to download and the interactions with the chatbot can simply be erased by the user, so there’s nothing for the abuser to find. This is of the utmost importance, since controlling partners often demand access to the survivor’s digital devices.
What’s the issue at hand?
Domestic violence is a deadly pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women, 3 out of 4 children and an estimated 1 in 7 men worldwide.¹ This means anyone reading this text is guaranteed to have more than one friend who suffered or is suffering from an abusive relationship.
From the outside the solution might seem simple: Leave the abuser. The reality, however, is far from that. Most people in abusive relationships cannot or are too scared to leave. Their partner’s manipulation and/or threats to harm them or their children or pets are often as big of a barrier to freedom as physical prison walls.
Survivors often do not know where to turn, and, finding that they lack tangible evidence of the abuse, remain in a vulnerable situation, even once they have left. Amongst other reasons, this is why a large majority of the survivors (60%) never seek help and of those who do, only a tiny fraction (10%) go to the police.² To make things worse, during the Covid pandemic’s lockdown, the usual avenues of seeking help suddenly became inaccessible, as the survivors became trapped at home with the abuser.
To deal with this pandemic of domestic violence, we need for a tool that (1) can reach survivors when they are trapped at home, wherever they are; (2) lowers the threshold for seeking help; (3) empowers survivors to take action, ensuring they stand the best chance of leaving for good. We need to give survivors of domestic violence back the future they deserve.