An emerging trend is the use of cryptocurrency for assisting women victims of indecent harassment/assault, to strive for financial independence while protecting privacy.
An indecent assault survivor recently utilized a crypto-fuelled payment processor called Seeds to raise $5000 through crowdfunding in September, as the traumatic experience rendered her unable to go to work for months. To make use of traditional crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe or Kickstarter, the survivor necessarily has to provide a government recognized ID and information about their bank accounts, which any platform employee could have linked with her story and identity.
But the Seeds token which is ethereum-based enabled the novice crypto user to collect funds without disclosing her identity to anybody except Rachel Cook, the platform’s CEO. The survivor was given a token, costing lesser than a quarter, gifted by Cook, and posted a “Request for Help” or RFP through 30 apps using Seeds’ free front-end tool Aura, which is an app used for meditation. Users could donate through the in-application pop-up utilizing credit cards.
Usually, collected funds are split between the app developers, Seeds’ 10% cut, and the person filing the request. But Cook waived off any fees after the token-issued request was fulfilled as it took only 3 weeks to raise the money, the fastest fulfilment after the launch in October 2017. Having met the lady in person, coincidentally by talking about the #MeToo movement, Cook felt that victims of indecent harassment or assault at work, avoided speaking up as leaving the job was not an option.
Survivors were troubled in asking for money and the logical extension in the #MeToo Movement was to figure out how this crypto-system could meet this need. Cook, incidentally an assault survivor also, aimed to make such anonymous invitations more available for crypto newbies coping with mental health and legal costs. People should know that this available service and use the facility without feeling uncomfortable as this gap needs to be filled
A TICKET TO SAFETY
This kind of a story is an instance of how women of the cryptocurrency community can quietly help each other when it comes to learning to use modern methods to overcome personal traumas. In one famous Afghanistan case, an abuse survivor teamed with Roya Mahboob, a bitcoin advocate, years ago to discreetly earn some bitcoin to fund a divorce. Recently, a North American model confessed to saving crypto to escape from an unhappy family situation that was harming her mental health. As she has sole control over their private keys, she didn’t have to worry about evidence such as a bank statement arriving unexpectedly in the mail. Crypto definitely provided help with ways to overcome many obstacles and women ought to learn more about crypto to help empower themselves because of the ease of access.
Yet another survivor of domestic abuse who happens to be a blockchain developer has been working on a couple of decentralized applications (dapps) for money management, for exactly such users. To be financially stable became the key factor for her to leave her abusive husband, the developer (who spoke anonymously) and she felt that survivors like all disadvantaged folks, lacked wealth-building avenues. Further the developer said that a majority of the cases of intimate partner violence also includes some kind of financial abuse also, as the abuser has absolute control over the victim’s access to financial resources and women continued in abusive relationships due to dependency upon partners.
LEARNING CURVE DEVELOPMENT
Unlike others mentioned in this article who were familiar with bitcoin, our survivor used the Seeds token and redeemed it for currency through the startup’s web portal. While the survivor received funds through PayPal (which knew her identity), there exists no evidence connecting her with the campaign. In future, any survivor needing help to cash out anonymously could approach Cook for alternatives.
Others could acquire Seeds tokens minus any verified ID, via decentralized exchange platforms such as 0x or AirSwap and due to transparent blockchain transactions, survivors purchasing tokens with the assistance from experienced friends may participate without having the need to depend or trust others. A whole group of people, who don’t fancy themselves to be crypto-savvy, are now encouraged by this system.
Seeds has processed many ‘Requests for Help’, ranging from $100 all the way up to $1,200, but only one of these cases were related to trauma. Cook is spreading hope to survivors who wish to try crypto but are averse to managing long-term custody. For them the token offers faster payout with limited personal information being shared with institutions, unlike a mainstream crowdfunding campaign or bitcoin exchanging platform. Crypto allows creating systems transcending centralized, broken power structures. More such systems are needed.