For my 2017 senior-year thesis project in graphic design, I decided to create a conceptual brand called Fight4Her which is a non-profit organization fighting against domestic violence.
I created this brand to show my passion to solve social problems as a designer. Several years later, I decided to continue this topic for my UX design portfolio.
It was awarded for Spark Gold Concept Design Award in 2018 for its branding design.
Please click to view the project.
Domestic Violence (also known as intimate partner violence) is a pattern of controlling behaviors committed by an intimate partner accompanying abusive intimidation.
Unfortunately, most domestic violence incidents are underreported due to the victims’ fear of retribution and other personal reasons such as legal or financial issues.
Can UX Design help solve Social Problems?
UX Design Role
Although it is easy to assume the solution to domestic violence is in reducing the number of unreported cases, that is not entirely true. UX Design can’t solve each individual's root causes as to why the victims do not report their case.
However, there are many organizations that can assist victims legally and financially, to help them get out of their abusive relationship. UX Design creates a safe and easy environment of connecting victims to those who can help them.
Therefore, the real problem here is that victims can’t reach out to those who can help.
How can victims(users) find and connect to the organizations in a safe and easy way?
To understand how individuals can reach out to organizations, I searched the internet and downloaded some apps. I also referred to other research and study cases related to domestic violence, including those that analyzed usability experiments.
I decided not to interview domestic violence survivors because it’s a sensitive matter that could bring forth their trauma if done inappropriately. Instead, I had an interview with a National Domestic Violence Hotline assistant who frequently interacts with women in all types of domestic violence and backgrounds.
During the interview with the National Domestic Violence Hotline assistant, I wanted to get a general idea of what the hotline does and discover the difficulties victims might experience when reaching out for help. Unfortunately, many answers to my questions were “all depending on the individual’s situation.”
However, I found some information to highlight.
Most people don’t know
about the hotline
They don’t know what the hotline does or what kind of help they can get from it unless they have already called before.
Every situation is different
Each individual goes through different situations. Therefore, the support they need is all different and can’t be generalized.
They might be monitored
Victims do worry about whether their abuser will find out they are getting help. Some abusers recorded phone conversations to monitor their partner.
Some victims don’t trust cops
Some people don’t trust cops due to their personal experiences, so they would rather call the hotline for help than report their abuse.
The key point here is that everyone’s situation is different, meaning each individual needs different types of help and support based on what they’re going through. How can users find the help that best fits their circumstances?
I learned that hotlines only provide resources; they do not get involved in the case and will not tell victims what to do or report the cases for them.
Through my research, I found other important aspects to consider.
Surprisingly, many women are not aware of their abuse when it’s not physical. Consequently, they don’t know what help they need. Identifying the type of violence is important to understand an individual’s needs because everyone’s situation is different.
Hotlines are generally a 24-hour service, but many organizations are understaffed which makes the wait time longer for victims.
A study pointed out the poor usability and task completion on domestic violence-related websites because of the lack of a persuasive help-seeking interface.
One of the common problems victims experience is social isolation which negatively affects them when they perceive the situation and make decisions.
Peer/social support can empower and encourage them, but it’s hard to find communities among survivors and victims.
Interviews with victims from other research show that some people are not aware they are under domestic violence because there was no physical abuse involved.
Although there are many organizations helping domestic violence issues, they are all over the place, and victims (users) must spend time searching and deciding where to get help.
I thought about making a platform where all organizations and individual professionals who’d like to voluntarily help victims gather in one place to reach out to victims so users can connect to them easily. This can also help solve the understaffed problem and increase the availability of people who can talk.
With other tools and sections, the app works as a one-stop center that provides all possible resources and helps that users need.
Based on the research, I decided to focus on four areas:
1. Personalized search
2. Available online chat
3. Community support
4. Safe environment