Three twentysomething Indians recently created a Snapchat account called lovedoctordotin, which anyone can contact to report abuse in a relationship and to reach a counsellor.
Rajshekar Patil, a Bengaluru-based advertising creative, originally had the idea.
Patil chose Snapchat because it's the only platform that keeps no record of sent messages, and therefore the safest way to signal for help. Many people don’t report abuse for fear of their partner finding out, he explained to BuzzFeed.
He was joined in his effort by Avani Parekh, who runs an anonymous digital counselling service called Love Doctor, and Nida Sheriff, who runs the India outfit of Chayn, a web platform for women suffering from domestic abuse.
Anyone can add "lovedoctordotin" as a friend on Snapchat. The account posts stories every day about relationship abuse.
Parekh explained to BuzzFeed that any Snapchat user can contact the account with questions about relationship abuse, or to report abuse in a relationship. "Depending on the need we will redirect them to the live counsellors at lovedoctor.in or to Chayn India or both," Parekh explained.
Sheriff told BuzzFeed that although people haven't contacted them yet, they can see a lot of people viewing their stories, so the message is slowly spreading.
"As long as they are viewing the guide, downloading it, bookmarking it to look at it later – We know we’re doing our job. We need students and teens to know that guides like this exist, and if they don’t already, we will build one for them. As long as they don’t feel alone, or like the task of reporting and getting out of it is too big for them handle. In our society, we tell young people not to take these things seriously, but they should."