The Digital Survivor of Sexual Assault (DS2A) system allows Soldiers to interact with a digital Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) guest speaker and hear their stories. First-person stories are one of the most powerful ways people share information, connect with, and learn from each other. As part of the ongoing SHARP training, survivors of sexual assault often speak to large groups of Soldiers. Unfortunately, not every Soldier who would benefit from interacting with a survivor will have this opportunity. DS2A allows more soldiers to interact with a speaker and preserves the emotional impact of hearing about the speaker’s experience. Soldiers can interact with the digital survivor and hear the speaker’s stories as direct responses to their own questions.
DS2A is a powerful new tool for instructors at the Army SHARP Academy. The system enables new SHARP personnel, as well as selected Army leaders, to participate in conversations on SHARP topics through the lens of a survivor’s firsthand account. DS2A can play an important role in the prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault by enabling new Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs) and Victim Advocates (VAs) to interact with a sexual assault survivor and hear the survivor’s stories in a non-confrontational environment. The experience may help SHARP professionals understand how to better support victims, and perform their prevention and response duties. It can also help Army leaders understand the impact that incidents of sexual assault and retaliation can have on an individual Soldier and unit readiness. The Army SHARP Academy plans to use DS2A in its resident courses of instruction, directed by instructors trained in the proper use of the system.
DS2A system is based on the New Dimensions in Testimony (NDT) project, a collaborative effort between the USC Shoah Foundation and USC ICT. Development of DS2A leveraged research technologies previously created for the Department of Defense under the direction of the Army Research Lab Simulation and Training Technology Center (ARL STTC). These technologies include the Light Stage, to facilitate recordings of survivors, and natural language dialogue technology to enable conversational engagement with survivors. DS2A is the first system of its kind to be used in an Army classroom.