Faced with the problems of violence against women, particularly young people aged 15 to 25, the Elle caetera association has decided to develop a chatbot that can direct victims to the appropriate structures.

Ella cetera: the association for helping victims of violence

The association elle caetera is currently trying to solve a problem: women who are victims of violence are not aware of the structures put in place to help them, nor that they are free. They are also rarely informed of their rights (sometimes they are not even aware of having suffered an attack), have a feeling of illegitimacy, do not have confidence in the institutions and are therefore frightened by the process of filing a complaint. Reliving the attack, having to tell it to a stranger, starting a procedure that can be very long and complex, are many obstacles that these victims must overcome.

Being supported during these legal (or healing) stages is essential. However, victims generally do not know who to contact.

It was Alice Patalacci, 26, currently communicator and treasurer of the association, and Alexia Lerond, 27, a lawyer by training and president of the association, who created Elle Caetera in February 2018. After winning a call for projects launched by the Women’s Foundation , they were able to start implementing ideas to facilitate support for young women, aged 15 to 25, victims of violence.

Elle Caetera’s chatbot

The chatbot went live on Friday March 15. Its objective is to inform, reassure and direct victims to the competent aid associations.

Victims of violence such as harassment (street, moral or sexual) or sexual violence (rape, sexual assault or sexual exhibition), have every interest in communicating with this chatbot. The latter often makes it possible to qualify this violence and thus to have an idea of the legal qualification that it can obtain. The chatbot asks several questions to fully understand the situation described: context, sexual relationship or not, touching, etc. The information collected obviously remains confidential, only some of it is used to establish statistics concerning the victims. The conversation will eventually be completely deleted after a week.

After the conversation, the chatbot identifies the violation and explains it to the user. He also uses reassuring terms like “Whatever the circumstances of this attack, you are not responsible for it! Know that you are not alone”. He then directs him to one or more suitable structures such as Paris Aid to victims or the point of access to law (PAD).

In the event that the victim’s situation is not clearly identified, the chatbot sends him the telephone listening numbers, such as 3919.

A relevant and effective device

Elle Caetera’s chatbot is available via the association’s Facebook page and via Messenger. This choice was made in particular because of the age of the main recipients: 15-25 year olds.

Messenger offers optimal accessibility to the chatbot. Indeed, it is one of the most used forms of messaging at this age and it is available on a smartphone.

Faced with victims who feel (wrongly) illegitimate, ashamed or frightened by their aggressor, the discretion of the Internet is then appreciable. It is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This chatbot works with the government platform for reporting online violence (on this platform, police personnel are physically present behind the chat). It is a chat platform launched in November. At least 2,000 reports have been made there since it was posted. ¼ of the discussions led to the opening of an investigation and a third of the victims notified their intention to file a complaint.

For now, the Elle Caetera chatbot is only available in Ile-de-France. But it is expected to be rolled out nationwide within six months to a year.

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