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Trigger Free: An App for Survivors of Sexual Violence
Our company, Future Workshops, is developing a mobile tool to help people*
who can be triggered by sexual violence in movies to be aware that a
ﬁlm may contain potentially triggering content with instantly-available,
speciﬁc, up-to-date, and trustworthy information as soon as a movie is
*And their loved ones
Part 1: application review
Part 2: use cases
Part 3: implementation & conclusion
Part 1: Application Review
• Application description
‣ The problem
- Movies, PTSD and trauma
- How Trigger Free can help
‣ Target group
‣ Existing similar apps
‣ Where will content come from?
‣ Why mobile?
• Summary and challenges
Movies, PTSD and Trauma
Survivors of sexual violence who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
or its symptoms can be easily triggered by violent or suggestive content in ﬁlms and
media. This content can cause great physical and emotional discomfort, often for a
prolonged period of time. Triggers can cause ﬂashbacks to personal traumatic
experiences. The responses to triggers (such as dissociation, shouting, crying, or
physical sickness) can easily alienate the survivor from others.
How Trigger Free can help
This app will allow survivors to identify potentially triggering media before being
exposed to its potential effects. It will also allow survivors to share their experiences
of triggering media and have access to a supportive community of like-minded
How Trigger Free can help
Ability to look up movie
before exposure to it and
avoid potential trigger
Access to others with shared
experiences; feeling that you
Loss of control
Common experiences Trigger Free Response
User is warned about potential
Option to actively warn others
Here are some quotations from people who have been involuntarily exposed to triggering movies. (Source:
"Blow was another movie that completely freaked me
out. […] When the movie cut abruptly and with no
warning whatsoever to the scene where the daughter is
being prostituted for drugs, I got up and walked out and
got physically sick. I felt physically nauseous for several
days afterward. "
"I watched [the ﬁlm] when it ﬁrst came out with
a friend. We walked out to the car afterwards
and I was feeling weird, kind of off and
disoriented. I wailed on the inside of my car.
freaked her out pretty badly. I never knew what
was 'wrong' with me or why I did that until
The quotations shows that survivors
a) want to share their experiences with like-minded individuals
b) already use online tools to do so
c) are willing to share movie titles, speciﬁc reasons for triggers, and even the speciﬁc effects the ﬁlm had
on their well-being.
Problem this app will solve
The problem this app will solve is perhaps best described in the following quotation:
"Any movie or book with a rape triggers me.
Unfortunately, I usually don't know ahead of time
that it is coming or I would not see the movie at
all." (emphasis added)
1. Primary target group:
Mobile phone users who suﬀer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms and
watch ﬁlms. Most users will be under the age of 30.
Target group size:
Our target group is a large one. According to The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), every 2 minutes,
someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. This results in 213,000 sexual assault victims per year in the U.S. alone.
Considering that up to 72% of rape and assault isn’t reported, the total size of the primary target group is immense.
• 80% of victims are under age 30
• 44% of victims are under 18
• 29% of victims are aged 12-17
2. Secondary target group:
Partners, family members, and friends of trauma survivors who use mobile phone
applications and are interested in helping their loved one(s) avoid triggering content
and re-traumatization while watching movies.
Partners, spouses, family, and friends are often forgotten secondary victims of post-traumatic stress. This app will allow them
a tangible way to become involved with their loved one’s experiences.
This app must be accessible on a mobile device for
the following reasons:
• Easy access on the go
– While renting a movie in a rental store or at cinema
– While traveling (prior to watching a ﬁlm on a ﬂight, at a friend’s home, on vacation)
– Easily and quickly ﬂag and comment on triggering ﬁlms, regardless of location or proximity to computer
• Discretion and privacy
– No need to identify as a survivor or support person by making activity public
– Minimized fear of others looking at the screen in a public place
– No qualms of using someone else’s computer
• Accessibility for frequent mobile users
– Users under 18% are 44 percent of target group. Those individuals are more likely to already be heavy users of mobile phones
and be familiar with apps
–80% of users are under age 30 and are also likely to own a mobile phone
–PTSD commonly leads to suicidal tendencies, teens aged 12-18 are also a large portion of sexual violence survivors. The app
has potential to include further resources that could aid with suicidal thoughts.
Existing similar apps
There are existing apps that attempt to offer guidance and resources to individuals suffering from PTSD (for
example: PTSD Coach).
Outside of the app world, there are websites that attempt to warn against triggering movies and forums that
offer a stage for discussion, but I have not found any apps that offer either or both those components in a
What will this app do diﬀerently from existing resources?
• Offer a targeted solution to a particular problem — inability to enjoy ﬁlms without fear of being triggered.
• Provide an accessible, mobile solution.
• Offer updated information that is easily accessible through a search functionality.
• Allow community around this issue and empower users to help each other.
Where will content come from?
The content for this app will be derived from two main sources:
1. In the ﬁrst phase, external database(s). Some examples are: IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes (for movie titles,
year, details, etc).
2. In the second phase, input from users. When users see a movie that triggers them, they will submit it
and rate it. The motivations for this include wanting to share an alienating experience with others, create
community as a way of healing, desire to prevent others from re-experiencing trauma.
Past trauma can turn a simple leisurely activity, like watching a
ﬁlm, into a dreaded experience, with prolonged physical and
emotional consequences. Trigger Free will give survivors of sexual
violence and other trauma a chance to re-gain control over the
effects of choosing to watch ﬁlms during their free time.
Part 2: Use Cases
• Primary Scenario:
‣ User wants to search for a ﬁlm she has not yet watched
• Other use cases:
‣ Search for a ﬁlm she has watched,
which triggered her
‣ Secondary use cases
Meet Sara. She is a 22 years old, full-time Legal and Political Theory student
at University College London
• Lives in London with her parents to save money
• Has a boyfriend of two years — Eric. He is the only person who knows about her
• Never leaves the house without her mobile phone
• Always has a lot going on between classes, part time job at GBK, and training to be a
• A huge fan of psychological thrillers and sappy dramas
• Feel and seem in control
• Feel safe
• Not let her PTSD take up much of her time
• Have positive relationships with her partner, friends and
Use case: Sara wants to look up a ﬁlm she has not yet watched
• Context: Sara meets up with her two best friends for a study session that quickly
derails into hanging out and ranting about their boyfriends. Laura suggests they should
watch a movie. She has heard that the Swedish adaption of “The Girl with the Dragon
Tattoo” is too good to miss. Nika suggests watching an episode of “Friends” instead. She
doesn’t have time for a movie.
• Use scenario: Sarah launches the Trigger Free app to look up “A Girl with A Dragon
Tattoo.” She needs to do this quickly and discreetly. She searches for the movie title and
immediately sees that it has been ﬂagged by other Trigger Free users as highly triggering.
She tells Laura and Nika that she would rather watch “Friends” too.
The second most common use case is that Sara wants to rate and comment
on a ﬁlm she has watched, which triggered her. She will access the app to do
so in order to a) warn others of the triggering potential of the movie she
watched and b) to get the sense that there is something she can do about the
unexpected negative experience.
SECONDARY Use cases: Options
•User wants to update her settings
•User wants to add ﬁlm to a “safe list”
Other Use Cases
Part 3: Implementation
• Team, funding
Team & Funding
Trigger Free is currently a hack day project supported by Future
Workshops, where a team ﬁve colleagues are working to make it a
• Identify reliable data source
• Obtain permission to use data
Phase one features:
• Look up a ﬁlm
• Vote on a ﬁlm rating
• Add a ﬁlm
• Social features
Project user stories from our internal project management system
The Trigger Free app allows survivors of sexual assault to enjoy movies without fear of suffering a
triggering experience. This protects them from setbacks in their recovery path as well as the
physical and psychological discomfort that triggers may cause. By providing this service in the form
of an app, survivors can quickly and discreetly check movie options for triggering content any time,
This app’s reach is unlimited to geographical area, and is so far limited only by its language. Further,
it is a tool that can be used by the partners, family, and friends of survivors and can expand their
support community from online to ofﬂine.
Who’s behind this?
My name is Jenny Grinblo. My background is in user experience design
and sociology, with particular interest in gender and sexuality. I have
been active in sexual violence awareness for over 6 years. I’m 25 years
old and have been a survivor for fourteen years.
Thank you for devoting time to consider Trigger Free!