How Snapchat Is Helping Unheard Survivors of Domestic Violence Come Forward

March 21st 2016

Snapchat, the popular messaging app that allows you to share fun moments with your friends in private, is now serving as a safe space or victims of domestic violence to report and speak out about their abuse.

A new Snapchat account called "Snap Counsellors," is helping teenagers in India and across the globe come forward about their experiences surviving domestic violence, which often goes underreported in India, Indy100 reports. The account sends out images and video messages to encourage victims to freely talk about their experiences.

Snap Counsellors PSAYouTube/Snap Counsellors - youtube.com

According to the Times of India, 42 percent of Indian girls are sexually abused before 19. Moreover, a study found that 77 percent of girls who experienced sexual abuse between the ages of 15 to 19 said that it involved their husband or partner.

The account was created by Indians Rajshekar Patil, Avani Parekh and Nida Sheriff, and was launched earlier this month, TechInAisa reports. Parekh, a trained counselor provides counseling to victims and Sheriff provides information support.

The new Snapchat account has already attracted a number of people in India and around the world.

"We already have an average of eight people reaching out to us everyday," Patil told TechinAisa. "There are almost 200 people watching the stories we are broadcasting on Snapchat."

"We have non-resident Indians in the U.S., Canada, and South Asia reaching out to us, and we advise everyone equally," Patil continued. "We are open to teens around the world, including men."

According to account's creators, Snapchat's discrete messaging system provides the perfect protection for those afraid to talk about their abuse. As is the custom on Snapchat, messages disappear immediately after they are viewed.

"We realized that privacy and secrecy are super important for those in abusive relationships, especially for teens and young people," Nida told TechinAsia.

Although speaking about abuse is hard enough, the majority of young people in in India and Pakistan believe that certain abuse is justified.

According to a United Nation Population Fund report, 53 percent of teenage girls in Pakistan and India believe that domestic violence — specifically physical abuse — is justified. In addition, the report found that 25 to 51 percent of teenage boys in Cambodia, India, Bangladesh and Nepal believe that wife-beating is justified. In America, "young women between the ages of 16-24 in dating relationships experience the highest rate of domestic violence and sexual assault," according to Iris Domestic Violence Center.

Snap Counsellors official ID on Snapchat is lovedoctordotin.

You can watch the full "Snap Counsellors" PSA below.

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