Snapchat is a big hit with teens and young adults across the globe. At Snapchat, you ‘live in the moment’. Sharing pictures, videos, texts that last only up to few seconds give a sense of freedom, a sense of affirmation to the users. But the fun messaging app is moving beyond “fun” factor. With Snap Counsellors, a social initiative of sorts, Snapchat is helping teens speak up about relationship abuse.
Snap Counsellors, an account on the Snapchat app was launched on 8th March by Rajshekar Patil, Avani Parekh and Nida Sheriff, all based in India. The non-intrusive messaging platform according to its founders is ideal for young people to share their relationship issues. “We already have an average of eight people reaching out to us every day. There are almost 200 people watching the stories we are broadcasting on Snapchat,” says Rajshekar Patil who works with Apple’s global creative agency, TBWAMedia Arts Lab.
But the helpline app is not limited by territorial boundaries. According to Rajshekhar, many NRIs from U.S., Canada, and South Asia are reaching out to them and they are helping everyone in equal capacity.
Domestic and relationship abuses are very common in India but are under-reported. These abuses, both physical and mental more often than not result in psychological disorders and stifling lives for youth. It was Snapchat’s privacy feature that got it dovetailed with Rajshekhar’s idea of reaching out to people. He then joined hands with Avani, who is a trained counselor, and Nida, who is an information specialist at Chayn India. “We realized that privacy and secrecy are super important for those in abusive relationships, especially for teens and young people,” Nida says.
The account operates like any other, and can be added using the id "lovedoctordotin." It sends out Snap stories with witty, yet all-too-real words of encouragement for speaking out about abuse, like “Snoop on my heart, not my phone” or “Harsh words hurt as much as a hard fist.”
Their team has also created a downloadable guide to relationship abuse, stalking, and harassment. “We basically provide a compassionate, friendly outlet for people with questions — we serve as a best friend that asks you the tough questions. We won’t tell anyone what to do, but if a relationship sounds like it’s abuse, we don’t hesitate to say it sounds like you are in an abusive relationship,” Avani says.