CRIME

'ASK D.C.' phone app connects sex assault victims with help

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From 2011 to 2012, Metropolitan Police say they saw a significant jump in reported sexual assaults. The trend is admittedly scary, but the message could be positive.

"Because sexual assault is so under-reported, it's not necessarily a bad thing when you see a jump in recorded sexual assaults," says Peter Newsham of the Metropolitan Police Department.

District officials hope to help more victims speak out with a new app called 'ASK D.C.' -- a website and smart phone program aimed at connecting residents, college students, even tourists, with help in the event of a sexual assault.

"A lot of people don't know what to do and don't know where to go," says Ebony Wheeler, a victim advocate with the organization, Men Can Stop Rape. "This app right here just gives you all the resources."

The comprehensive program offers a range of services and suggestions. With a few clicks, a victim can call for a free Uber Cab ride to the hospital or call a 24-hour help hotline directly.

Wheeler says the most important advantage is privacy. She adds a many victims don't come forward, worried they'll be exposed.

"Out of fear of being judged or people saying 'it's your fault. You dressed this way, you were out this late.' They'll have a way to go and report this," she says.

The app is available at the ITunes Store and Blackberry World. For more information visit www.askdc.org

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