Improving the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors
About the Network
The mission of the Better Tomorrow Network is to conduct high-quality research studies that yield continuously improved understanding, treatments, and services for sexual assault survivors. We conduct this work to achieve a world in which effective treatments exist so that no sexual assault survivor will experience chronic reductions in physical health, mental health, or quality of life due to sexual assault.
Women’s Health Study
Stretching our dollars to maximize the value of our work
The Women’s Health Study, our first large-scale study, is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health – that is, by the hard-working Americans whose tax dollars fund the NIH.
We run a very lean enterprise and work to stretch each dollar to honor, respect the public trust, and best serve survivors. Due to cost savings measures implemented in our Data Coordinating Center and the terrific work of our student volunteers, we’ve been able to save enough funds to recruit an additional 50 women into the Women’s Health Study, bringing our total anticipated study size to 750.
More high-quality data = more discoveries = improved treatments faster!
First participant enrolled in smartphone-based pilot study within the Women’s Health Study
Nearly 80% of the US population owns a smartphone, and this percentage continues to rapidly increase. Smartphones offer an exciting opportunity to identify sexual assault survivors at high risk of adverse outcomes and to deliver preventive interventions. Realizing this opportunity requires the development of methods to utilize smartphone apps in sexual assault survivor studies.
As part of our efforts to achieve this goal, our wonderful Better Tomorrow Network collaborators at Austin SAFE successfully enrolled our first participant into a smartphone-based pilot study within the Women’s Health Study. We will be continuing with data collection through the smartphone app Discovery by Mindstrong at Austin SAFE, Tulsa Forensic Nursing Services, and Albuquerque SANE Collaborative throughout the remainder of the study.
Our grateful thanks to our study collaborators and the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health for a pilot grant to help support this effort!
Fifty-eight women enrolled with teleconsent (as of December 2018)
We have now enrolled 58 participants into the Women’s Health Study via teleconsent, a platform that allows for potential participants and research associates to discuss and sign consent documents via a HIPAA-compliant online interface.
Over the long term, we believe that this technology will allow us to learn about the experiences of survivors and test interventions in a much broader population than has previously been possible.
Comments from participants in the Women’s Health Study
The willingness of our participants to share their journey during an extremely difficult time in their lives is a remarkable act of compassion and grace. Their bravery paves the way for improved outcomes for future survivors of sexual assault.
“I've been trying to avoid anything related to the assault, at the same time I felt less sensitive to any emotions, either good ones or bad ones.”
“I rarely personally feel clean, even after dozens of showers.”
“Recovery is really hard, it takes more than personal determination! Guidance, support, and resources are super imperative. Studying these cases is important for future victims.”
“A lot of my pain manifests physically but not in a particular part of my body. Generalized and intense anxiety seem to be manifesting in complex and confusing ways.”
Adolescent Study Pilot
Improving health outcomes for adolescent survivors
Adolescent girls ages 12 to 18 are an understudied population of sexual assault survivors. Together with an outstanding collaborator at Brown University, Dr. Nicole Nugent, we have designed a study for adolescent sexual assault survivors that will gain critical insights into how adolescent sexual assault survivors heal, and how social media (such as Instagram and Facebook) can lend insights into survivors’ vulnerability and recovery.
An initial pilot study is planned to launch in the Spring of 2019.
Intervention Study Pilot
Testing our first intervention to improve sexual assault survivor outcomes
We are hard at work developing an app-based intervention for adult women sexual assault survivors. Our goal is to develop a smartphone-based app that reduces post-traumatic stress and pain after sexual assault and can be offered as part of standard emergency care to sexual assault survivors across the US.
Much more on this to come!
Our Data Coordinating Center
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute for Trauma Recovery serves as the data coordinating center for the Better Tomorrow Network.
The Better Tomorrow Network is on Social Media
We’re excited to announce the launch of the Better Tomorrow Network’s Facebook and Twitter pages!
These pages will serve as a medium through which we will disseminate current findings in sexual assault research to the public.