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FAQ

General

What services does Vesta provide?

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Vesta Community provides survivors:

  • a safe, secure and private space to document their experience in their own words and at their own pace;
  • time to decide whether or not they want to access services or file a formal report;
  • online and in person supports to help them on their own unique path to healing and to justice.

Vesta Community provides partner community agencies:

  • dashboard view of aggregated anonymous data;
  • intake and management of identified survivor reports;
  • standardized reports for funders or other stakeholders.

Vesta Community provides partner law enforcement agencies:

  • a view of aggregated anonymous data allowing for problem identification even if survivors do not want to formally report;
  • a clear, concise, time stamped survivor account;
  • ability to proactively devise an investigation plan before speaking with the survivor reducing re-traumatization.

Adopting Vesta Community promotes a more positive outcome for survivors and creates safer communities for all.

Who is Vesta?

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Vesta Social Innovation Technologies is a for profit social enterprise at the intersection of gender based violence work, technology and access to justice.

What does that mean?

That means that we create creates technology that empowers sexual assault survivors, by lowering barriers to reporting, gives them access to resources and a safe space to document their experience while deciding if they want to file a formal complaint or report.

It means that we are working with community organizations to create a hub of online resources and in person support services for survivors.

It means we are working with local police services so survivors’ first interaction with the reporting process is on their own time and on their own terms.

It means we are bringing together local community partners so that there is a collaborative and comprehensive community response to reports of sexual assault.

It means we are doing the work so survivors don’t have to.

What’s in a name?

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Why is the company named VESTA Social Innovation Technologies?

In ancient Rome, Vesta was the goddess known as the protector of the home and of all Roman citizens. She was rarely seen and was not usually depicted in human form, but in a fiery flame. In ancient Rome, Vesta’s followers, or maidens, were known protectors of Roman citizens and recognized mediators and negotiators of peace. In the 2020s, Vesta is the protector of survivors and their bridge to justice.

Social is our company’s orientation as we strive to make the world a safer and more inclusive place for all.

Innovation is evident in our commitment to fearlessly push boundaries and do things differently, whiling respecting those who came before us.

Technologies are how we will deliver change. By harnessing the latest technologies, we’ll create safe spaces that can be accessed by anyone. 

Why is the reporting app called VESTA Community?

No one heals in isolation, we heal with the help of ours, and at Vesta, we want to be part survivors’ community of healers and advocates for justice.

How VESTA Community Works

If I upload emails, photos, or social media to my VESTA report, will I still be able to report anonymously?

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You can create a more complete Vesta report, by uploading videos, voice texts, emails, and social media posts. Depending on what you add, identifying information may be shared. We suggest you consider this if you want to remain anonymous. We suggest you do NOT add anything that can identify you, if you are worried about remaining anonymous. Save your Vesta report without any social media or other posts. Vesta Community will allow you to password protect your anonymous report without submitting it.

If you change your mind, and want to add more details or upload information, you can amend your saved Vesta report by entering your password and encryption key. To learn more about how Vesta protects and saves your report, click here.

If I use Vesta Community will the Police contact me?

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If you decide to identify yourself, provide consent, your contact details and your preferred method of contact, and submit an online report to police, an officer will contact you using your preferred method of contact.

Together with the officer, you will decide if you want to speak with the officer at the police station or if you would prefer they come to you.  Although different police services follow slightly different procedures, in general, you can expect the following:

  • Once you meet or speak with the officer, the first thing they will ask is if you’re ok. If they believe you need immediate medical attention, they may call an ambulance.
  • The officer will ask you basic details about the incident and may refer to the information you provided in the Vesta Community app.
  • If you have any needs that the officer can’t help with, the officer may contact the appropriate individual or agency for assistance. For example, if English isn’t your first language and you need help in a different language, they may call an interpreter to help.  
  • If the rape or assault happened within 72 hours, the officer may ask you to go to the hospital to treat injuries and to have a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK) done. This kit will collect forensic evidence. To find out more about what a SAEK is and what you should expect, click here.

The officer may also connect you to Victim Services in your area so they can assist you in providing immediate crisis, trauma and support services.

To find out more about police investigation process, click here.

If I use Vesta Community, what happens next?

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If the sexual assault just happened, or you are in immediate danger, call 911.

Vesta Community is not a substitute for 911 but a tool to help survivors who are not in immediate danger; are undecided about whether they want to report; or they want to report anonymously.

You, and you alone, decide what happens next.

If you use the Vesta Community anonymously, your information will be aggregated or combined with other survivors descriptions. No investigation will be launched and no one will contact you. The information you shared anonymously will be combined with others, who have also shared their experience anonymously. The information you and others shared will be used to identify trends, hot spots or problem areas. No one, not even Vesta, will be able to identify you.

If you use the Vesta Community app, and you decide to submit a police report, you will need to identify yourself. You will be asked to provide consent, your contact details and your preferred method of contact. A police officer will contact you using your preferred method of contact. If you want to know what steps police will take after they contact you, you can find more information here. It’s important to know that if you change your mind and do not want to proceed, the officer will respect your wishes.

If you use the Vesta Community app, and you want to connect with local counselling or support services, you will be asked to identify yourself so that they can reach out to you. After you provide your contact details, preferred method of contact and your consent, someone from a local service provider, like a sexual assault center, will contact you.

It’s important to know that the sexual assault center will attempt to contact you twice. If you do not respond or if you change your mind, they will respect your wishes and stop. You decide. You are in control.

No matter which option you chose, you decide, you are in control.

Privacy

If I use VESTA Community, can someone find me through my IP address ?

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The simple answer is no. A common misconception is that your IP address can pinpoint your exact location. It’s not quite that simple.

What is an IP address?

When you sign up to use the internet, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), like Bell Canada or Rogers assigns you an IP address. Your IP address is similar to your mailing address, but for your computer, not you. The IP address routes internet traffic to your computer.  To be clear, your IP address does not reveal your location. If someone was able to get your IP address they could learn a bit about your internet service, such as if you use Rogers or Bell, but they can’t locate you, your home, or your office.

In some circumstances they may locate the city you are in, or perhaps a nearby city, but they will not have your physical address. Internet Service Providers know where you are but they go to great lengths to protect you and your privacy. If someone had an IP address and called Bell or Rogers and asked them to provide who that address belongs to, they could not give them that information or they would be in violation of Canadian privacy legislation.

Does Vesta store my IP address?

At Vesta Social Innovation Technologies, your privacy is a top priority. We follow a privacy principle called the principle of “least privilege.” That means we collect or track the least amount of information possible to make the system work. We do not need your IP address to make the Vesta Community app work, so we do not store it.

We also have robust, bank level security measures and processes in place. However, despite all our security measures, if our servers were hacked, the hackers would not find you or your IP address because we do not store it.

We do run Google Analytics on our website and for our privacy policy, click here.

Reporting

Is reporting sexual assault that has happened a long time ago even worth it?

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The short answer is yes.

In Canada, there is no statute of limitations for sexual assault. If police are unable to locate an offender or opt not to press charges, that case will remain open and active.

If you report an incident of sexual assault, you are not obligated to move forward with a criminal case; however, you can still access support services to help with your recovery. Services include face-to-face counselling, legal and medical services, personal safety planning and public education. Unsolved sexual assault cases are never closed.

What is the purpose of third party or anonymous reporting?

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Vesta Community is a mobile friendly web application that uses technology to facilitate and enhance Third Party Reporting (TPR). Third Party Reporting (TPR) or anonymous reporting of sexual assault has been adopted in different forms by police services and community organizations across Canada. TPR is a process which allows adult survivors to access support and to report details of a sexual assault to police anonymously, through a designated community program or trusted intermediary.

The intent or purpose of TPR is to create an alternate route for survivors who feel marginalized or have a fear of police to access the system and support services. TPR is not a substitute for 911, nor is it a police investigation. The goal and hope is that by using anonymous reporting tools, like Vesta Community, folks who wouldn’t usually reach out to support or social services, connect with someone who can help them, even if they DO NOT WANT TO FILE A POLICE REPORT. Survivors can still access local or virtual support, even if they don’t want police to know their names. TPR can then lead to an official police complaint once the survivor feels comfortable with sharing their story, but it isn’t a requirement.

Anonymous reports can also benefit community organizations and the police. Sexual assault and other forms of gender based violence are severely under reported. Community organizations, including police, cannot allocate time or resources if they are not aware that a problem exists. Anonymous data will help them allocate proper resources.

Vesta Community draws on academic and primary research in anonymous reporting, written response protocols, trauma informed interviewing, third-party reporting protocols in Canada and innovative, digital solutions developed around the world. Different forms of anonymous reporting exist around the world. It has been called blind reporting, restricted reporting, or third party reporting.

Vesta Community was developed and continues to improve with feedback from survivors, researchers, frontline organizations and sexual assault centers in Ontario, Canada.

Security

How secure is Vesta Community?

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We consider privacy, security, and data privacy to be critical components of our solution and are at the foundation of everything we do. We incorporate Privacy and Security by Design in all we do.

All records transferred and stored within Vesta Community use bank-level TLS 2.0 and AES-256 encryption technology. This encryption works by taking plain text and converting it into random characters. Even if our system was hacked, all the hackers would see are random characters.

Vesta exceeds privacy and security requirements in Canada and abroad, including PIPEDA, PHIPA and more. Our innovation is a cloud based solution with data centers located in Canada that are ISO 27001, SOC 1 and SOC 2 certified.