May 18, 2023
Students at the University of Southern California (USC) have launched a startup company with a mission of helping to prevent sexual assaults on college campuses throughout the nation.
The company is called Brave, and the product – an app connected to what’s known as the Braveband – is designed to provide students with a quick and discreet way to alert friends if they’re ever in danger. “When someone is in trouble, they tap the wristband, and it will send a notification to everyone in the Brave network, along with a map showing the person’s exact location and directions on how to get there,” according to a Fox 11 report.
Brave is a partnership between USC students Kian Abrishami and Grace Miedziak. Abrishami created the Braveband app after having to intervene to prevent a friend from being sexually assaulted at a USC party.
“I saw a friend getting pulled to a couch when it was obvious that she wasn’t interested in being romantic with this guy,” Abrishami, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering and computer science, told the Daily Trojan in April. “I intervened – but if that was behind closed doors or if that friend was alone, things could have escalated. It became very clear then that a lot of vulnerable students don’t have a way out.”
After that incident, Abrishami “made it his mission to create an immediate way for students to discreetly notify their friends when they are in danger,” the Daily Trojan said.
He partnered with Miedziak, the director of advocacy at the Survivor Support Community at USC. Together, they founded the Brave startup and are developing the beta version of the Braveband bracelets to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.
Fox 11 reported that during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, Brave launched a beta test of its app and wristband with hundreds of student testers, starting with students from the Survivor Support Community.
“We want to hear their (sexual assault survivors’) feedback first with how comfortable they’re feeling with the product, what they think about it. And we don’t want to just stop with Survivor Support Community, we want to reach out to all communities that might be more vulnerable to sexual violence as well. For example, the LGBT+ community has elevated rates of experiencing violence,” Miedziak, who is Brave’s Chief Operating Officer, told Fox 11.
The beta launch included tests of the app in conjunction with the Braveband bracelet. When utilized, the device sends a user’s exact location to their friends’ phones. The Daily Trojan noted that the bracelets will eventually be able to communicate independently of phone access, “addressing any concerns surrounding the perpetrator taking a user’s phone away.”
Brave was incorporated in March, but the company already has a team of 15 staff members (with Abrishami serving as Chief Executive Officer). The company personnel includes software engineers, product developers, and marketers, according to Fox 11.
Brave notes on its website that the company mission is not merely to prevent sexual assault, but also to empower students, give parents peace of mind, and change the culture of “going out” while in college.
“All of us on the Brave team have too many friends with a sexual assault story, if not one of our own. We founded Brave to enhance student life so that we can all stay connected with our friends when going out,” the company’s website reads.
The Braveband is designed to ensure that students don’t have to worry about being impacted by sexual violence during their postsecondary education years – a time when 13% of all college students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduates), according to Dordulian Law Group’s partner organization, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).
And as Brave CEO Kian Abrishami notes, that figure is even higher when calculating all types of sexual violence.
“Brave is not just a safety technology company; we are an empowerment movement giving college students an effective tool to protect themselves. With 1 in 4 women experiencing sexual assault during their time in college, our team was compelled to create a solution that would make a tangible impact on college campuses,” Abrishami said.
Some of the company’s milestones achieved in only months include:
“We are working with many universities and potential corporate partners to ensure a more accessible and inclusive experience for all users … We are collaborating with and receiving guidance from notable CEOs, COOs, CTOs, and CFOs of major companies worldwide,” Brave’s website reads.
Bravebands are available for pre-order now at Braveband.tech/presale.
The company plans to eventually make the wearable sexual assault safety device a part of campus culture throughout the country.
“Ultimately we want to get these sold directly to the universities, so it’s at zero cost to the users and zero cost to the students who need it the most. We want to work with big corporate partners so they can help us deliver the most impact to the students, and ultimately it shows a visible commitment towards positive social change on their end and the university’s end to keep everybody safe and enhance college life,” Abrishami told Fox 11.
In November 2022, we featured a French company that launched a Kickstarter campaign for a sexual assault safety device. In founding Brave, two local students are addressing the unfortunate prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses and working to prevent it.
We’ve covered the issue of college campus sexual assault regularly here on the DLG Blog, including USC suspending a fraternity after sexual assault allegations. As a result of the allegations, the university mandated security guards near bedrooms at some parties.
And although the issue of sexual assault impacts countless students every year, many do not come forward and report incidents. In fact, the published statistics might represent a significant underestimate of how frequently sexual violence in college occurs.
As RAINN notes:
How a survivor chooses to proceed after incident is a deeply personal decision. While criminal charges may be filed against a sexual perpetrator, civil claims are also an option for California victims.
And as DLG’s founder Sam Dordulian notes, coming forward to pursue a civil lawsuit can often be an empowering experience for survivors.
“What I’ve found over the years, assisting hundreds of survivors, is that those who have gone through the legal process typically find it very empowering. They were once terrified of this scary predator, but eventually come to realize he’s actually not that intimidating when sitting quietly and meek in a courtroom with deputies standing over him, and is eventually carted away in handcuffs. For the first time, it’s the survivors who are now in control, not the perpetrator. And when a survivor takes back that control from the abuser, it can be incredibly healing. I’ve represented victims on countless occasions who are terrified before taking the stand. However, when they decide to take that step, to walk up, get on the stand and testify before that now meek and incarcerated perpetrator, inevitably they come to magically realize that this awful person who had hurt them so severely no longer has any power,” Dordulian said.
Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.
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