A online interactive about sexual abuse

Did you know that 5% of the population aged 16 and over (770,000 people) reported having experienced online sexual harassment in the past 12 months?

Neither did we. 

Also we didn’t know anything about what was actually happening to the people that were harassed. During and after this project we had a lot to chew on because this subject has such a huge impact on the lives of people, it made us very eager to help out. 

The project WTFFF!? is the result of a collaboration with Fonds Slachtofferhulp an organization that helps victims of all sorts and our friends at Morrow. We met Fonds Slachtofferhulp some years ago and talked about the type of projects we were both doing. We thought of interesting ways our areas of expertise could be combined and if we could do something in the area of (online) sexual abuse.

Looking through the lens of technology you can see many things you can do to get a message across and inform people. Having a simple webpage or advert online is a way to reach people, but over the years things have changed drastically in terms of “absorbing” information. Nowadays there is an information overload and as a result the attention span of the average person on the internet is short-lived. To put it simple; you have to come-up with something really good if you want to have anyone looking at your “webpage” for more than 5 seconds.

At Q42 we have a lot of experience creating innovative (storytelling) websites, but this is the first time we were going to work on an experience on such a heavy topic. We made dazzling experiences for different museums where you can explore paintings and see more details than you could in real life. We brought together two rivaling tribe leaders in Uganda with the use of Virtual Reality. How can we create an experience about sexual abuse? What do we show? What do we say? What's the message that we want to get across? 

To get an answer to these questions we spoke with the target audience; generation Z. Young people that grew up using the Internet and smartphones. A group of young volunteers got some context of this project, heard stories of victims and in addition we showed them some possibilities of things we were thinking of as a concept. 

It turned out that our target group wasn’t interested in fancy concepts, gamification and engaging campaigns. These youngsters wanted the raw stories, simple and straightforward! The one response that stuck with us and that we got time after time someone learned about what happened to some of the victims was…

So that became the working title of the project. We started to work with the raw stories of the volunteers and base the experience around it. But there was a very big challenge. 

Victims often don’t talk easily about the things that happened to them for many different reasons. In fact, in this project you’ll find one story so disturbing that our victim was not able to tell it herself. So we wanted to be super discreet about everything but at the same time get a message across so powerful that you’ll feel like you’re sitting next to the person telling the story.

The way we did this was to focus on audio. We figured that this experience should feel as if someone was talking directly to you. What you will be hearing in the online experience are the stories recorded in the professional studio of Joep told by the actual people that had these experiences.

To empower the story even further we got in contact with visual artist Jonas. We discussed the stories of the victims and how we could bring that to life. We already strongly felt that the artwork should symbolize the experience and take you on a journey throughout the events that took place. 

As you will see Jonas took it to a whole new level and not only brought the events to life, the experience will show you how powerful the people became after over-winning their abusers. 

It's strange to feel enthusiastic about a project that contains so much cruelty. But having spent so much time with these stories, the people and the organization that helps these victims we know this project can make a difference. We hope that many people will listen to the stories and share them with others. With the variety in the stories we hope that people will react when they recognise something similar happens in real life.

Background stories