Profile of an Entrepreneur: How a Former Student used Mobile Technology to Combat Sexual Assault

By: Angeline Lawrence
Can you remember having the talk with your son or daughter about Sex? Yikes. An uncomfortable experience for both parties, but it was a necessary conversation. We talk to our kids to raise their awareness.
So, the next uncomfortable talk must be about sexual assault and sexual abuse. Many high school seniors are looking forward to their independence on a college campus. They are great students and can manage their time. Yet, the dark reality of sexual assault looms in the background.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will be sexually assaulted while in college. More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.
Courtney Dansby, a brilliant entrepreneur, is a former victim of sexual assault, both in high school and college. A resilient young woman, Courtney endured domestic violence and sexual abuse in a relationship in college. Her faith was renewed and today God uses her to raise awareness and provide real solutions to this horrific social problem.
Despite the challenges, Courtney obtained her obtained a  chemical engineering degree from Hampton University and a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of Michigan.
Today, Courtney is an advocate against sexual abuse and domestic violence. She is a co-founder of Safe Space a mobile application to help with sexual assault and prevention. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Social Start-Up Weekend in Detroit, MI.  Her team won the top prize during event, which connects entrepreneurs to other people to create a startup company in 3 days.
Below is the insightful interview I had with Ms. Dansby: 
AL: How were you able to overcome domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual abuse to achieve the things that you've achieved today?
CD: I think the biggest thing that really helped me out was having a support system of friends and family. Another thing was getting back into my spiritual life. I had lost it for a couple years and getting back into that really gave me my sense of purpose of why I'm here on the earth.  I'm here to still continue and that my time is not over. Also, being in school and focusing bettering myself helped me to continue my education. 
AL: So, in dealing with sexual assault, how were you able to use your educational background to create a mobile application called Safe Space to address this widespread problem? 
CD: Well, I'm very business-oriented, so I got my master’s degree in entrepreneurship. It taught me how to run a business. I also attended a Start-up Weekend event. I meet two wonderful men, Brian Lewis and Aaron Riley. They were very interested in the idea. We were able to create this app to address a problem that most people don't want to talk about.
AL: Will the app be helpful to college students?
CD: I think it would be a helpful app because when you go to college as a freshman you're essentially stepping in new territory and new places.  You don't really know anyone and your support system can be miles away. God forbid something was to happen.  This app could connect you to people that give themselves to be allies.  You have a support system.
The more people are educated they know the signs of someone that has gone through sexual assault. The app teaches them how to keep themselves out of certain situations that may result in assault. They also understand the background of what giving consent means.
It explains how to be an ally to someone going through those certain situations when they think they may not have a support system with their friends.  Yet, maybe some of their classmates can be an ally for them by connecting through the app.
AL: So, how does your app work in terms of connecting people to be a support system?
CD: The app has an ally page. Within the app students can deem themselves as an ally. They will be educated on what an ally is and how to be a good ally. They can deem themselves as an ally and they can deem their place of residence as a safe space.
You have that sense of a support system whether it's your immediate friends or people you may know on campus but are just in your class. We're saying, I'm here and I am an ally. I'll help you with my place, which is a space. There's no judgment. If you need me I'm on the app.
Angeline Lawrence is a writer and workplace strategist who provides tools, tips and resources for women to overcome adversity in the workplace. She publishes the Shine Now Magazine and is the Amazon best-selling author of Positioned for Power: The Working Woman’s Guide to Thriving in Life, which shares her secrets to overcome bullying and adversity in the workplace.

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