Tracy DeTomasi is the CEO of Callisto. Callisto is a non-profit that creates technology to detect repeat sexual assailants. Tracy DeTomasi has held leadership positions across the nonprofit sector over the past 20 years, where she developed and implemented trauma-informed programming and curricula. She was instrumental in changing domestic violence laws in the US and has worked on projects globally with The Commonwealth of Nations, Ecuador, Australia, The United Kingdom, South Africa, and Ghana. Previously, Tracy was the Co-Founder of Good People Collective, the Interim Executive Director at NO MORE, and the VP of Domestic Violence Services at the YWCA. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Tracy has extensive experience working in the field of gender-based violence, giving her a deep understanding of the ecosystem of survivors, offenders, and allies. She has consulted with organizations to develop tech-based tools, such as an app that educates users about violence against women, a smartphone device for sexual violence prevention safety, and virtual reality trainings to address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Anti-Sexual Harassment.
In this episode, Tracy discusses:
You're listening to Reckoning, the go-to resource for conversations about gender-based safety, survival, and resilience in the digital age. Reckoning is brought to you by Garbo. Garbo is on a mission to help proactively prevent harm in the digital age, through technology, tools, and education. I'm Kathryn Kosmides, the founder and CEO of Garbo and your host for each episode. In the interest of safety, I want to provide a content warning for listeners as we do discuss some hard subjects in each episode. So please use your own discretion when listening, you can learn more about Garbo and our guests by visiting our website at https://www.garbo.io Thank you so much for being here and listening to this episode.
Today's guest is Tracy Detomasi, the new CEO of Project Callisto. Tracy has held leadership positions over the past 20 years across the non-profit sector where she developed and implemented trauma-informed programming and curricula. She was instrumental in changing domestic violence laws across the US and has worked on projects globally with The Commonwealth of Nations, Ecuador, Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Ghana. Previously, Tracy was the Co-Founder of Good People Collective, the Interim Executive Director at NO MORE, and the VP of Domestic Violence Services at the YWCA. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Tracy has extensive experience working in the field of gender-based violence, giving her a deep understanding of the ecosystem of survivors, offenders and allies. She has consulted with organizations to develop tech-based tools, such as an app that educates users about violence against women, a smartphone device for sexual violence prevention safety, and virtual reality trainings to address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Anti-Sexual Harassment. We are so excited for the conversation today where we will discuss the intersections of technology, sexual assault, campus awareness, and so much more.
KATHRYN: I've been obviously following Callisto for a really long time, and you are their new CEO as of April of this year. So, I would love to first just tell the listeners a little bit about the history of the organization, how you're coming to the work, and then how the work is evolving or how it has evolved over the years.
TRACY: Yeah. Well, Callisto started in 2015. Our founder, Jess Ladd, was a survivor of sexual assault and she created this amazing vision of really connecting survivors of campus sexual assault and creating this technology in order to do that. The original technology that we used has changed, as with any tech startup, you realize a lot along the way. And so, we have updated that a lot. But what our main thing that we do is really connect survivors of repeat perpetrators to give them a collective voice, to be able to safely connect them in a way that can help them, help their case, help them heal, most of all. We've done a lot of different things of connecting with Title IX, not connecting with Title IX. And I'll talk about that in a little bit. But, as for as me, I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I have been in the field of gender-based violence for over 20 years now. I actually started my career as a therapist for adolescent sex offenders. So I was a certified therapist for adolescent sex offenders. And that really shaped my view of this field. Since then, I've done all of the non-profit work that you can do as far as being a case manager, a therapist, a program manager, and then gotten to the executive level. I really think that all of that work combined has really helped me see the vision for Callisto and how it's needed and how survivors can use it. Survivors of all different backgrounds and who've experienced all different types of assaults. I'm really excited to lead the organization. I've been here for about seven months now, and it's just been absolutely incredible. We've got a small, but mighty team, and we're doing really big things, and I can't wait to see how we move forward.
KATHRYN: That's incredible. I think your work is very interesting in the intersections that you come to this opportunity as and to the organization with. So, you talked a little bit about the origins of Callisto really starting on college campuses and definitely around college campus sexual assault. We talked a little bit about this problem on this season of Reckoning, but can you just tell us a little bit about the prevalence of the problem on college campuses and the many pieces to the problem? It's not just a single issue.
TRACY: Sexual assault on college campuses is rampant. 13% of college students will be sexually assaulted every year, and that means that's approximately 2.5 million students, which is the population of Chicago. So it's huge. I don't think that we give that enough credit. To break that down a little bit further, one in four female identifying students will experience sexual assault, one in five trans or non-binary students, and one in fiftteen male students. And to break that down even further, there's studies that show that 85% of college student survivors identified as bipolar and students who have a disability reported experiencing assault at three times higher than those without a disability. So, the people who need the services the most are often the most marginalized and don't have access to the systems that are supposedly in place to help them. And that's why we need a way to connect those survivors even more, which is why we do what we do. 90% of sexual assaults on college campuses are committed by repeat offenders. And that is why we have our matching system and why we really connect survivors of serial perpetrators, to have that voice because it is such a huge problem.
KATHRYN: It definitely is. And like you said, it's a huge problem. It's a very nuanced problem, and it has different impacts to different people, right? Someone who experiences sexual assault as a disabled person or as a queer person will have very different reactions, responses, and options even, right? So, when they do experience something and they're told, “Go to Title IX”, or, “Report it to the police”, or do all of these things, we know that that doesn't work or fit what survivors really want to do themselves, and it almost takes their agency away. And that's what I do like about Callisto, is the system that is designed to enable survivors to upload this information. And if there is a match within the system, connect with that legal options counselor to get the best feedback and insights into the process that they possibly can and figure out what is the best solution for them. But originally, Callisto was much more integrated into the college campuses. And I know that you've moved far away from that after learning. Like we said, we're tech non-profits and constantly learning, constantly evolving. But can you talk a little bit about why the organization chose to move away from that model of sending directly to these Title IX coordinators and even moving away from being funded solely by schools and things like that?
TRACY: Yeah, and let me start a little bit by saying the difference of what we used to do and what we do now. Before our old tool was called Callisto Campus, and really we worked with Title IX offices and we sold our technology to those offices so they could match survivors and they could give survivors another option prior to reporting to Title IX, but it was a reporting tool. And given the feedback that we had from survivors and looking at the different options, we recognized that there was a better way to do this and to give more survivors more opportunities to connect. Our old system only connected within the school. Our new system called Callisto Vault can connect anywhere. So as a perpetrator offends across campuses, or in a smaller community that has several campuses in one city, it can detect those perpetrators as well. And so now our system, it is not a reporting system. The matching is really simple. It's three steps. They just need to put in the state that the assault occurred in, unique identifiers of the perpetrators–so their social media handles, their email address, their phone number–and then their contact information for the legal options counselor to reach out to them. If there's a match, the legal options counselor then reaches out to the individuals that have matched to tell them their options. And then, once they go through their options, they say, “Do you wanna connect with the other survivor?” And if it's safe to do so and if that makes sense for that survivor, they give consent and the legal options counselors work to connect those survivors. And so, we switched to that to put the agency back into the hands of survivors because they didn't know even what they wanted to do. They didn't know what reporting to Title IX fully meant. They were just told, “Go report to Title IX”. And so, now they're able to talk to an attorney to see if they might even have a case or might not have a case or what that might look like, prior to actually reporting, so that way they can make the best decision for their own lives at that time and know maybe what the statute of limitation is and all of that. One of the reasons that we made that is because students don't trust Title IX. Some students do, some students don't. It really varies between each school. But, right now I think that there's over 300 investigations of colleges for mishandling reports of Title IX. So, as soon as one person has a bad experience at their Title IX office that spreads throughout the campus. I know there's a lot of Title IX offices that are doing a lot of really good work, and then there's some that are not. So being affiliated with Title IX and having the school be a gatekeeper, whether it be because of funding or they weren't sure if they wanted to do this, or they they didn't want to open this can of worms that is sexual assault on campuses, we decided to take that factor out. And so, now we'll partner with administrations if they're excited to have us, but regardless of if an administration wants us on their campus, we are like any other non-profit, a third party that students can have access to, regardless of the campus affiliation. I think that taking that gatekeeper out, having the school be the gatekeeper, was really helpful in gaining the trust of students. And our work is really survivor-centric, and really trauma-informed, and we wanna make it the easiest, least barrier possible in order to be able to use our system. And so, those are the main differences that we do, and some of the main reasons why we do them is really to have survivors understand those options prior to having to do anything with the options. Or maybe they've reported to law enforcement, they've reported to campus safety, they've reported to Title IX, and they were denied all of those options, but they still don't want that offender to do that to somebody else. This is still a way to connect, or even if they did have a case to make sure that other survivors who might not feel as comfortable, may not have the options to go to law enforcement or to report that they can help them as well if they did have a successful case or if they didn't have a successful case. It's just really a way to connect those knowing that so many of sexual assaults happen by repeat perpetrators.
KATHRYN: You said so many interesting things there around trust and safety, ultimately, which is the theme of all of our work. But, the lack of trust in the system, the Title IX system and in the college campus system, but then also in policing systems and carceral systems. And so, we're seeing a lot of work around these space is really how to protect each other in a way that gives survivors agency and allows people to come together to really proactively prevent harm. That's why I see our work so overlapping in so many different ways. And I know that as you get your feet underneath you as the CEO of the organization and learn from the past and look at the present. So we're at a very different place than where Callisto was in 2015, when they were founded, but also in 2017, 2018, when they really blew up in the startup world and actually did a lot of pushing forward for the entire tech non-profit scene in a lot of ways. And now we're headed into 2023, which is crazy. It's been five years since I found Garbo in January. So it's also a time of reflection, but also a time of jumping into the future in a lot of ways. And I know you have some really exciting stuff and ideas planned for 2023 and far beyond. Can you talk a little bit about some of those new things, those new ideas, and what you're seeing post-Me Too now and post some of this stuff a few years removed after all of these reckonings that we've had around, especially sexual assault?
TRACY: Yeah. Well, first of all, congratulations on your five years at Garbo. I think that's really exciting. I think that what Jess Ladd did, our founder, was create the tech and build the tech, and I'm in this really great position to be able to use the tech. And so, that's really what our focus is that we have piloted Callisto Vault last year. We're in our second year of our pilot, and it's working. We have matches, we have cross-campus matches, we have multi survivor matches, and we have an approximately 15% match rate on all the entries that come in. So it is working, and right now students at about 42 schools have access to Callisto Vault, but we know that sexual assault is well beyond those 42 schools. So our plan in 2023 is that we are creating a campaign to raise enough money to scale to all schools in the U.S., which depending on how you count it is about 4,000 schools. And so, we're looking to do that, and we really plan to. Right now we're on track to scale and provide access to all schools nationwide. But sexual assault is also beyond schools. So we are looking at how we move into other sectors. Currently, we're working with the founder of Nuva, which is a company that works with women in entertainment, and how do we bring Callisto into the entertainment world where Me Too blew up because of Harvey Weinstein, and him being a serial perpetrator, and survivors not being able to connect without risking their careers to publicly name him, and the whisper networks that happened, and the lists that happened. A lot of those survivors risked defamation suits and did a lot of risk to their own career by keeping those systems. Those systems aren't always safe. People misuse those lists too. With our system, it's so secure, it's encrypted. We're not keeping just a list of offenders for anybody to browse through. We can't actually see the information. Only the legal options counselors get to see that. And so, I think that that's what makes it really safe, where people don't have to risk telling their story publicly and all the backlash that we have seen in the last five plus years since Me Too went viral. They don't have to face that backlash. And so, those are some of the things that we're really working on to really expand and grow the use of this tool now that we have worked for five years to really make sure that we've got the best tool possible.
KATHRYN: That's amazing and really exciting. You talked about the risk that survivors have taken in these moments of tweeting out Me Too or outing someone on social media, putting their lives on the line, which is what survivors often have to do, right? I don't really believe that survivors really want justice. I really just want to think that they want the person to stop causing harm. That's really at the core of this. They don't care and they don't want them to be sent away to some carceral system or whatever. Just can you just stop doing what you did? And yet, the options that are there today, do often have a lot of negative impacts to survivors, whether that is going to the police and not being believed or having to miss work because of court dates or outing on social media and getting fired from your job. There's so many different impacts that these systems can have, but they are the systems that we have today to hold people accountable or to try and get them to stop causing harm. So as you're building this next version of the platform, what are some of those options that maybe a legal counselor might talk to someone about or give them? What are the options that they can do, especially if there are more than two people who have been found within the system?
TRACY: Yeah. The options that the legal options counselors talk to survivors about are really about reporting to police, reporting to law enforcement, and what that might mean and what type of evidence they might need. Do they have that evidence? What are the difficulties in navigating that system? Whether or not they can stop the investigation from going forward once it starts. All those questions. People think that reporting to law enforcement is like Law and Order SVU, and it is not. It is not an one hour show that in the end the offender is held accountable, and everybody feels good. It's not that at all. Most of the time it can be much more traumatic for the survivor to actually report. But the other options are, does it make sense to obtain a restraining order? What are their options for reporting to Title IX or reporting to their school? And how does that Title IX system work? Title IX changes often. It's really about the rules that the school has to follow. And so, it doesn't always have the survivor in mind. Engaging in restorative justice or what are the legal ramifications of engaging in restorative justice? What are the legal ramifications of publishing on social media, of going to a journalist, of confronting your perpetrator? What could happen? What are the risks of that? And then, what are the benefits and risks of coordinating action with the other survivors? Does it make sense? Will it hurt your case if you talk to the other survivors? Will it not hurt your case? What would it be like? What are the legal ramifications if four people come forward to a journalist versus you as an individual? So it's really helping them think through all these things through a legal lens of the different options. Because like you said, a lot of people aren't even seeking justice. They just want the offender to stop. A lot of times they know the offender. They know all the good things about the offender. We try to put offenders into these good or bad, all or nothing categories, and they're not. And so, if they can just stop offending and being held accountable in saying, “I made a mistake, I did a crime, I did something bad.” It's not even a mistake. I don't wanna minimize it in that way, but this is how I can get help to stop. I think that it would be great if we can move in that direction. Again, from my career of working with offenders, it's really hard to get offenders treatment without acknowledging what they've done wrong and being held criminally accountable to that.
KATHRYN: All of our content that we publish, and I see your content recently as well is really about transparency. Like, “Okay, if you are going to report to the police I'm not gonna give you the SVU fluffy version”. Our posts are written by survivors for survivors of how to file a restraining order and real talk, you're gonna have to see this person multiple times and they could do X and Y and Z. But at least giving them that transparency and that access to information. So we always say it's just an informed decision, right? About what they choose to do. The systems can be challenging, but as long as you know what you're getting into and what you're up against, but also that there is hope. I think a lot of it is that these systems can be so challenging to go into, but the only way that we make change and get the offender, or bad actor, or whatever we wanna call them, which is ultimately a person who has caused harm to stop. And that's where your other work is so interesting because I think that this is often a missing piece in all of the conversations I have with survivors and experts in this area, and trust and safety, etc., is they leave the bad actor out of it. And in a way, I'm very survivor-focused. But, I think that we all know the phrase “Hurt people, hurt people”. But then we're like, “Heal people, heal people”. I don't condone it. But in a sense, we know that a lot of offenders, a lot of bad actors have been harmed in some way themselves. And then there's a choice, right? You start being bad or good, but then, like you said, it's not black and white, right? These same people who are sexually assaulting someone in one scenario, are the star student in another class, right? Or that's where they seem like the friendly person, but they're causing this internet harm. Or the big thing is sextortion online. You think, “Oh, it's this weird guy behind a screen, or these little enterprises.” But we're increasingly seeing it be college-aged women, sextorting young men to get Gucci purses and stuff like that. So this whole idea about the bad actor and the offender in these spaces and how we reckon truly with that. And, we again don't wanna penalize them or put them in prison or put them away. We just want them to stop, and then learn, and process, and then not do it again. How do you think, in your research, in your experience, do we do that or what are the different ways or opportunities? Because I think there's a lot of unexplored data probably there around rehabilitating truly gender-based violence offenders especially, or power and control offenders.
TRACY: When I was doing the work, and that was almost 20 years ago, I think the recidivism stats with treatment was like 5% would go on to reoffend. And that's not a whole lot. And so, evaluating risk, and having these conversations, and having these conversations with men, because a vast majority of offenders–no matter the gender, identity of the victim–are men. And so, we have to really start to talk about that and have them be able to change–whether it's toxic masculinity, or whatever you wanna call that, fragile masculinity. But really talk about how they're getting away with it. I think that's one of the things that I really learned is that offenders use culture. They use different things to get away with what they're doing. And whether that is groping somebody at a party or raping somebody at a party. And I think that they do that by the culture that's around them. And so, the more people that we can have talking about this and creating awareness and understanding how the joke connects to a violent act, I think is really important. Because we talk about prevention and in the past 5, 10, 20 years that I've been doing this work, prevention was don't get too drunk. Watch your drink. Don't walk alone at night. Well, who is that for? That's for the victim not getting offended. But that might reduce your own personal risk maybe. But what happens if something does happen. Am I to blame because I went for a walk at night by myself, because I got too drunk? If I go to a party a hundred times and one time I’m assaulted, and I was drunk every one of those a hundred times, the issue is not that I was drunk. The issue is that one time I was in the presence of a perpetrator and ninety-nine times I was not. And so, we do have to start flipping this and talking about this. As victim advocates, and as people who work with survivors, we need to stop and go, “Okay, this is survivor-centric, but what do we need to focus on? How are offenders offending? How can we break that cycle?” Because until we break that cycle, we're just gonna keep trying to get people to avoid risk. I don't wanna walk around the world avoiding risk and being risk averse because that's gonna stop my own ability to be carefree and to have more opportunities, and that's not how I wanna live my life. And I'm sure that's not how you wanna live your life, or the listeners wanna live their lives. I did some trainings for college athletes numerous years ago. And I was talking with one football player at a pretty prominent school, and he's, “But I don't get it. You said that if somebody wears a bikini on their Instagram photo, like why aren't they asking for it?” And I said, “Have you ever been to a beach?” He's like, “Yeah, of course.” And I said, “Did you go and were there attractive women in bikinis at that beach?” “Yeah, of course.” I said, “Did you rape any of 'em?” And he's like, “No, no, I didn't.” And was shocked that I would even ask that. And I said, “Exactly, I assumed that you didn't rape any of them.” And it's not the issue of women wearing bikinis or men wearing bikinis. It's the issue that you are not an offender. You didn't offend because you think that's wrong. You didn't go up and touch them because you think that's wrong. It's not about what they're wearing. It's not about how drunk they are. It's not about any of that. It's about what's inside you that prevents you from offending. I think the more that we can focus on that, the more that we can really end this. One of the statistics that's so important, and whether it's accountable or not, or it's just like you said, it's not about putting them in jail, it's just about getting offenders to stop. Is that if we catch offenders after two offenses, when studies show that on average a perpetrator on a college campus will offend at least six times and have six victims. So if we stop that at two rather than six, we've reduced college sexual assault by 59%. So if we can identify them and get them help, or do restorative justice, or lock them up, or whatever it is, we put that in the hands of survivors to start to have that voice. Eventually it will change and will shift to not having to have this tool. But, we can really reduce sexual assault by focusing on perpetrators continually offending. Because once they get away with it one time, they're gonna keep getting away with it and they're gonna know the system better, and they're gonna know how to use the fraternity culture. They're gonna know how to use Title IX culture, rape culture, or whatever culture you wanna talk about. They're gonna know how to use it and they're gonna get better at it. So we need to stop them so they think about it and they worry about the risk prior to touching anybody that doesn't wanna be touched.
KATHRYN: You said so many powerful things there. And I think one of them is definitely the culture that allows these people to perpetuate this harm. And because they don't feel like they're gonna be held accountable, they know they can get away with it, right? We know that only 25% of victims, or less than that I believe will report into a criminal system. And then of those reports, it's like less than 1% of sexual assault reports will end in a conviction. And there is so many reasons for that issue. But perpetrators know that, know that they can get away with it. So why does it matter? And so, when we think about perpetrators, I do think it's about getting them to think about it, and process their own harm, and why they do things. It's very difficult though when it comes to gender-based violence offenders, or even just power and control offenders. And that's where my work is very focused is, I don't necessarily care about the crimes of desperation or which is the robbing, or the even murdering of someone because you're desperate. If you took them out of that shitty situation, gave them hope, money, and healthcare, etc., they wouldn't be doing those things. But empowering control offenders, it's slightly different. And there's this big debate happening around, do they know that they're doing this? And, what do they get out of doing of perpetrating harm, whether that is stalking someone online, or sexually assaulting them, or domestic violence, or romance scamming someone. All of these things. I was talking to a girl friend the other day and they're like, “Do they think that they know they're bad? Do they think that they know they're doing wrong?” I would love your thoughts on that.
TRACY: Actually Hannah Gadsby, who's a comedian, has some brilliant Netflix specials. She said she did this bit in 2018 about “the line” and about good guys and “the line”, and every guy draws a line and they are always on the side of the good guys always. So I think that having done the work that I did, it's all about cognitive dissonance and using cognitive distortions to justify why you're a good person, to justify why what you are doing isn't as bad as what the next person is doing. One of those standards is, “Well, I didn't rape them because what does rape look like to so many people? Rape looks like I've jumped out, I've calculated it, jumped out from behind the bush. I've attacked you, I've ripped your clothes off, I've punched you.” That's not what rape typically is. And so, I think that a lot of offenders–again, mostly men, cis men–I think that they're like, “Oh, well I'm not doing that. So she got a little bit too drunk at a party. So that's part of our hazing plan and he asked for it, or it was just a joke.” They use all of these things to justify what they're doing. I don't think that most of them think that they've done anything wrong, because even with the offenders that I've worked with that have done horrendous things, they justified it in their mind. That's what they did. There are a handful of offenders who are actually wanting to cause harm and that is what their goal is. But I think with power and control, their goal is to get power. Their goal is to get control. If they harm somebody, they harm somebody. If they can get that without harming somebody also, great. And so, it's just about collecting that power and control. I don't think that it's always a conscious decision.
KATHRYN: It's almost like the ends justify the means in their head. If they can get that power control, if they don't have to be violent, like they won't be violent. That's why they're often good guys in public places, right? Very personable, etc. They know how to gain power and control in so many different ways. One of those ways being violence and harmful behavior. But they often will only do that in the spaces and cultures that they are allowed to get away with it in. I see the same thing with the rationalization, etc. But your perspective is very fascinating and I think nuanced. All of this work is very nuanced, right? I think, like you said earlier, people want black, white, good, bad, right? That’s why Garbo’s colors are black and white, and then we have the orange, the safety color. But then we have 10 shades of gray and in our design branding, because it is gray. It is very hard. It's very complex, it's very nuanced. Gender-based violence has always existed, right? Sexual assault has always existed, but the internet has just layered on entirely new complexities to the problem, but also to the solution with technology and then the stuff that we're both building and the work that we're doing. So as you look to beginning to solve some of these problems and the future of Callisto, where do you see the hurdles and how do we connect and work with all of the parties at play in this experience to come together to really solve it from the government, to universities, to platforms, to the people of survivors, perpetrators, and bystanders, etc? How do we really come together? What are some of the things that you see happening? How can we all work together?
TRACY: Yeah, I think that one of the key pieces is that we focus so much on safety means. There's zero reports, that's not true. So accept the fact that I would not recommend somebody go to a school that their Clear React numbers say that there's zero reports of sexual assault. That means that the school's probably covering up something or not taking the report seriously, or people are not reporting because they don't feel safe to report. So we need to expect numbers to be high. Until we hit the numbers that have reported of the one in four, one in five, one in fifteen, until we're hitting those numbers, it's underreported. Reported numbers really don't necessarily mean anything. And so, I think that we need to do this education campaign around the fact that, yes, we all wanna end sexual violence, but the step first to get there is to acknowledge how bad it is and covering it up with better numbers of, ‘Look, we have zero sexual assaults on this campus’, is not the way to do it because that really is just a cover up. I think the more that we can do transparency several times, we can do transparent reporting. But those “bad numbers'' don't have a negative impact on that institution. An institution reporting a hundred assaults should actually get credit that they're dealing with those assaults and a hundred assaults that a college reports is better than zero because we know they're happening. It's about how that institution, whatever it is, is reporting that. I think we still need to keep listening to survivors, but focus on the perpetrator as well. We've already talked about that. And then, I think we really need to understand trauma. The more trauma-informed these systems are, whether it be the university staff, the police departments, the law enforcement, the government responses, the judges, everything, I think the more that we understand trauma and that “hurt people, hurt people”, and that there's no such thing as a perfect victim, and trauma impacts your memory, impacts your recall, and impacts how you go through the world. A trauma response might be laughter and it might be minimization, or it might be crying in fear and terror, but it might not be. And I think that the more that the people who are involved in these systems, in shaping these systems understand trauma and are trauma-informed, the better laws that we're gonna have, the better policies that we're gonna have. And the more we'll understand that there is so much nuance, and I don't think that our systems right now are reacting to the nuance or addressing the nuance. And it's just either you are, you aren't. You are an offender or you're not an offender, you are a victim or you're not a victim. And I think that it's getting to those nuances and when you understand trauma, you understand the nuances. And that is hard and it is complicated and it doesn't work in a soundbite and it takes a lot more energy and education to have those conversations, but they're so worth it, they're so worth It.
KATHRYN: It's just doing the work, right? And again, allowing survivors to lead for the very first time, right? And they're the ones for the first time in these spaces being judges, and being lawyers, and being so involved in the government, and having leadership positions, even at technology companies and things like that where they can really shape these things and shape Title IX, and how we react to these things and make them more trauma-informed. So I am hopeful that these things can change.You have to be, and I think it's work like yours, and organizations like Callisto and Garbo, and all of the other amazing people, and platforms, and organizations trying to first understand it, right? Like you said, and then admit to the problem, and not hide the skeletons in the closet, right? It's hard to admit, especially to platforms, or universities, or these things that so much harm is happening, right? They don't want it, they wanna cover it up because it's ugly, it's gross, and it's hard to talk about. But, the old adage of sunshine disinfects, right? And shining a light onto these issues and then coming together to figure out how we can begin to solve them is the only solution really. But as we look into the future, and how we all work together, I know you mentioned early on in this conversation some of the exciting stuff that you are working on at Callisto is looking to expand into these new areas. And I think that the work is so intersectional, obviously with the governments, and campuses, and people, and platforms, etc., but also a lot with these regulations, and laws, and issues, right? Technological infrastructure issues, etc., is like they're all very intersectional. So as you expand and think about it, we're seeing a lot of privacy laws–CPR is coming into effect next year, which really impacts privacy in California and being able to even request what data is on you, and stuff. And a lot of dating apps, and background check legislation, and platforms wanting to screen all users, and there's all of this legislation like popping up and rules, but also feelings towards privacy, and trust and safety, and security, and stuff. So that much more gray area stuff as it relates to some of the hurdles or issues that are less people driven than they are, like legal issues or privacy issues. How do you think about that and navigating the increasingly complex digital world that we live in?
TRACY: Yeah, such an important question and such a difficult one to answer. I think that that's why it's taken us as long as it has to really get to where we're at, is because we have done so much. My predecessors and the teams before me have done so much to ensure that we are doing the best with privacy in all of these regulations, and we're doing more than what we need to. Our system is highly encrypted. Like I said earlier, we don't have access to the information, but when you don't have access to the information, it's also harder to make sure that you're future proof and that you can continue to adjust the tech as necessary. And so, we have built our platform in a way with the help of our amazing Crypto Advisory Board and our Governing Board, to really make sure that our tech can withstand the test of time as long as possible, as well as making sure that we are always the most encrypted and double encrypted, as we can be. And working with those groups to continually have them understand trauma, and have them understand that what happens when you have the survivor needs one thing, but privacy standards are a different thing. For us it's all about informed consent. You said that before, that technology's not the end all be all. It's how we use it and it's how we set up the policies around how we use it. And we want to say that we're being really transparent in a really clear way, using language that's not all legalese to explain to survivors who might, in the midst of trauma, not fully understand and process to say, this is how your data's gonna be used. This is how we're going to use the fact that we're asking for your demographic information. We don't connect it to your story. We don't connect it to your profile, but it helps us to understand who's using the system. It helps us to get more funding to keep this system going. And so, we're always using informed consent as a way to work through some of these policies and to do the best that we can and encourage others to do the same. And to say that you can balance it, it takes longer, it takes more time, but balance can happen if you're willing to really take the time and energy and center survivors, in this case in particular.
KATHRYN: So powerful. It's the work that we do. I always say, but I cannot move fast and break things because the things are people's lives, right? You can't move fast, right? Because when we move fast it has ripple effects into different areas. And so, I think that being thoughtful in the approach and you're seeing safety by design really become a trend and trauma-informed design concept really starting to take hold. And that also gives me hope that the people in these spaces are thinking about the harm that could happen, how they can mitigate it, and how they work with legislators and policy makers who are developing these privacy laws and standards, etc. That they understand what they're really developing and doing, etc. So it's all really exciting stuff. And I'm so blessed to know you, to see the work of Callisto evolve over the years, and the journey that the organization has been on and really just excited for what's to come.
We hope you enjoyed this conversation. If you're interested in learning more about the topics discussed in this episode or about our guests, visit our website at https://www.garbo.io Now available: Garbo's new online background check makes it easy to see if someone in your life has a history of causing harm while balancing privacy and protection in the digital age. This episode was produced by Imani Nichols, with whisper and mutter. I'm Kathryn Kosmides and I look forward to having you join us for the next episode of Reckoning.
We work with online platforms to help proactively protect their communities through our innovative background check system. Get in touch to learn more about how we can integrate Garbo or help you proactively screen users at sacale.