Sexual assault and harassment occur on U.S. college campuses with alarming frequency. Underreporting of these crimes makes both statistics and replicable solutions elusive. The vast majority of the victims are 18-24 years old, are female or gender-nonconforming, and find little to no assistance in their recovery. Serial perpetrators are causing the bulk of the problem, and those who commit sexual violence often do it with impunity. The system is badly broken—assailants are almost never reported, and if they are, action is rarely taken.
Callisto dismantles barriers to reporting sexual assault through its online platform, providing survivors with information and new options to document and report their experience. At the same time, it gives institutions actionable data to guard against and respond to the problem, while preventing future abuse. Survivors are offered several ways to report assault and harassment: (1) they can securely save a time-stamped written record of what happened, preserving evidence while deciding what to do next, (2) they can report directly to authorities to start an investigation, or (3) they can save the record to report automatically if the same assailant is named by another survivor.
Callisto’s information escrow matching system aims to identify repeat perpetrators, prevents ongoing incidents, and helps stop sexual assault at its source. Callisto currently serves 13 campuses with a total of 149,000 students. Callisto is building a new system that could support any victim of sexual assault or professional sexual coercion and track any serial perpetrator. Victims of serial offenders will be safely connected to each other and legal support. Callisto brings tangible short-term results, and builds a foundation for a sustained cultural shift.
Across the globe, sexual assault and harassment are commonplace but rarely reported.
Callisto dismantles barriers to reporting sexual assault by providing survivors with information and new options to safely report.
Jess Ladd, a sexual assault survivor herself, developed Callisto to fix the broken reporting system.
Callisto is expanding from college campuses to support victims in professional fields including technology, entertainment, and academia.
To create one website for any victim of sexual assault or professional sexual coercion that can detect any serial sexual predator in the United States. Callisto aims to create a reporting process that prioritizes survivors’ needs, rebuilds survivors’ sense of agency, and empowers survivors to understand their range of options.
Callisto will continue to grow on college campuses, and will build a new platform that supports victims of sexual assault and harassment in professional industries. Callisto will first expand to the tech industry, with plans to roll out to additional industries such as entertainment, academia, government, and beyond.
Callisto decreases barriers to reporting sexual assault through its online platform, providing survivors with new options to document and report their experience, supportive information, and participating partners with insightful data to improve prevention and response rates. Callisto charges participating colleges a small annual fee, and plans to sustain its work through a combination of philanthropic support and earned revenue.
Jess Ladd grew up in San Francisco during the height of the AIDS epidemic, an experience which brought to light the importance of sexual health, rights, and fighting for justice. As a sex education teacher throughout high school and college, students and friends came to Jess with stories of sexual abuse. It was during her college years that Jess herself experienced the trauma of sexual assault — and the subsequent reporting process, which was, in Jess’ words, “more traumatic than the incident itself.” Jess’ work as a FemSex facilitator and campus educator during college showed Jess that her experience was not unique — that many survivors of assault feel doubly traumatized by flawed reporting processes. After graduation, Jess worked as a federal HIV policy advocate and interned at the Obama White House Domestic Policy Council. After completing a Master’s in Public Health at Johns Hopkins, Jess was determined to address the failings of reporting assault, harnessing technology for the purpose. In 2015, she launched Callisto, the site she wished existed when she was in college. Callisto’s trauma-informed reporting platform allows survivors to create a time-stamped record of their experience, report at a time and place that feels safe to them, or enter the name of their perpetrator under the precondition that this information is not released unless someone else names the same individual.