PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–As Philly Tech Week wraps up, one Philadelphia-based tech company is just getting started.
Through innovative technology, “ROAR For Good” hopes to reduce the number of assaults.
“Like many women, I’ve experienced violence. I’ve been attacked. And I’ve been sexually assaulted,” said Rebecca Tiffany, who is sharing her story to create conversation and change. “We should validate the voices of those who are brave enough to speak out.”
The numbers are staggering: every 98 seconds, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.
After a six-month trip to South America and hearing story after story from women of their experiences of sexual assault, Yasmine Mustafa decided to take action.
Shortly after her return to Philadelphia, she heard of another brutal attack much closer to home.
“My neighbor went out to her car and was attacked and beaten, and that was kind of the lightbulb moment,” said Mustafa, who founded ROAR For Good.
Since then, she’s been working on creating ‘Athena,’ a piece of wearable safety technology.
“We want to change the world. We want to make the world a safer place, a better place.”
Named after the Greek goddess, ‘Athena’ can be clipped to bags, belt loops, or pockets, or it can be worn as a necklace. It’s about the size of a quarter with a potentially invaluable impact on those who use it.
Tap three times, and it will silently notify pre-programmed phone contacts of your location.
“You can swipe when you want someone to watch over you and send pre-programmed messages through the app, like, ‘I’m walking by myself and I don’t feel safe. Please keep an eye on me,'” Mustafa explained.
If you’re in danger, hold the button on Athena down for three seconds to activate its emergency mode.
“It will sound the alarm [of 90 decibels], it will message friends and family and also be able to call 911 service,” she said.
After three years of design and development, the $99 ‘Athena’ just began shipping nearly 10,000 pre-orders across the country.
The original design was a bracelet, but after product testing and self-defense classes, Mustafa and her team realized activation of the device had to be more accessible.
And what this technology can’t do, perhaps education can.
“The onus is always on women to not do this, not wear that, not drink this and it really needs to be on society not to attack in the first place,” Mustafa said.
That’s why 10% of every ‘Athena’ sale will be invested in non-profits that raise awareness about violence and teach empathy, especially to young children.
Her hope is one day, Athena will no longer need to exist.
But until then, they will carry this tiny device without carrying a burden of sorrow or shame.
“I decided a number of years ago I would not be defined by the things that have happened to me, that I would not live my life full of fear or trauma,” Tiffany said.
As a mother, Tiffany says using ‘Athena’ is more of a lifestyle for her family.
“There’s just that fear especially for my kids. You worry about yourself but you worry about them 10 times more,” Tiffany said. “Just checking in on where we are throughout the day has just become a part of our daily routine.”
She is even more protective after also experiencing a stalking situation and believes having ‘Athena’ then would have helped.
“I was stalked after chatting very briefly with someone I didn’t know in a public forum. He didn’t know my full name, where I lived. He decided to track me down and found my place of work, started sending me packages, flowers, a book he wrote for me,” she said. “‘Athena’ gives you peace of mind; obviously, it doesn’t prevent things from happening but it does get you the help you need when you need it which is the difference.”
And for those who have experienced assault or violence, Tiffany has a message.
“Know you are not crazy. There’s all the second guessing and a lot of shame. It’s a really messy topic. But trust yourself. There’s recovery,” she said.
‘Athena’ is available in three colors: black, silver, and rose gold. Customers can also donate $79 to purchase a second device for someone in need. For more information, visit RoarForGood.com.
If you need help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.