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The blanket has an emotional purpose to shield the victim after an acute-assault while safely storing any DNA trace that might be left in the victim’s body or clothes that can connect the incident to the perpetrator (if unknown). By using natural fibers like cotton (plastic destroys DNA) with special pockets for the hands, a victim can squeeze a gel-stress-ball that is inside the pocket. Holding tight to the stress-ball can press away some tension while important traces from the hands are secured inside the pockets. When developing this blanket, the police anticipated using it for all acute cases that involve the collection of DNA evidence. This would make the safe-evidence blanket universal and not stigmatizing for victims that use it. An important feature for the healthcare providers was that it shouldn’t look medical, that is the reason of the dark neutral black&blue colors.
The process journey is a tool that explains who the people involved in the victim’s path to recovery are and the important alternatives the victim has to decide upon (and the consequence of those decisions down the road). It is simple diagram with significant impact since many times these type of cases involve men and women coming from a culture where talking about sexuality is a taboo or other times the victims are too young to understand what has happened and don’t know the words to explain themselves.

It can help the medico-legal care team explain the complex system a victim has to go through after an assault in an easy-understandable way.
Sexual assault medical centers are not designed exclusively for its purposed. As we saw in Norway, the rooms they use are spread all around the emergency hospital resulting in many unnecessary trips and uncomfortable exposure. Through interviews and observations sessions, we visualized spatial interventions that answered many painpoints experienced by victims. A private waiting area, a counseling room with tools to facilitate conversations, a medical examination suite with first a talking area, gynecological elements blending in the environment, a evidence collecting system in the changing room and educational elements incorporated in different surfaces and platforms, all reflect the needs of an acute victim making that first difficult step of getting help. The use of calming colors contrasts the necessary sterile white to preserve DNA traces. The medical exam room has sterile areas and evidence areas as well as the changing room, enhancing the importance of a DNA securing system.
"GIGA-maps are rich multi-layered design artefacts that integrate systems thinking with designing as a way of developing and internalizing an understanding of a complex field.” (Birger Sevaldson)

The blanket has an emotional purpose to shield the victim after an acute-assault while safely storing any DNA trace that might be left in the victim’s body or clothes that can connect the incident to the perpetrator (if unknown). By using natural fibers like cotton (plastic destroys DNA) with special pockets for the hands, a victim can squeeze a gel-stress-ball that is inside the pocket. Holding tight to the stress-ball can press away some tension while important traces from the hands are secured inside the pockets. When developing this blanket, the police anticipated using it for all acute cases that involve the collection of DNA evidence. This would make the safe-evidence blanket universal and not stigmatizing for victims that use it. An important feature for the healthcare providers was that it shouldn’t look medical, that is the reason of the dark neutral black&blue colors.
The educational system is composed by: a customizable folder that can contain the specific information each victim needs and a process journey.

The folder is anonymous, respecting the ability/preference of the victim to be open about this topic or not. This folder can be personalized by adding only the brochures that are relevant to each case and each brochure is about one theme, with infographics and a consistent graphic identity between the different services offered. The last section of the folder contains a blank journal that encourages victims to start writing down their feelings to get familiarized with them and make it easier to talk about it later. It is important that victims rediscover whom they were before the assault to move forward. The tone and language used is non-medical and technical alluding to a wise friend rather than an authority position like a police or a doctor.
The room is shaped like and “L” and the sofa is placed in the opposite corner from the door to shield the patient from any exterior visibility. There is a couch for the patient and another for the social worker. The information journey is placed by the sofa and it intends to serve as a tool to facilitate a conversation and explain to the patient the different options she/he has and the different people that are involved.
A systematic way to store the patients clothes as evidence.

It is important that the patient stores his/her own clothes in the paper bags as evidence. For this we have created a sequence where the patient can undress sytematically and place each type of clothes in a paper bag.

The Safety blanket is the first product you will undress.

The overall furniture is ‘lifted’ from the ground to minimize the risk of losing and contaminating evidence behind ‘dark spots’. The second function is to emphasize visual sterilization of the environment. All the floor moldings around the entire space has a concave shape to disable evidence to get stuck in a sharp angle. Since the evidence can be a crucial tipping point in solving a police case.
A balance between sterile and comfort.

The room is white, representing the proffesionality and cleannes it must have. The left table is the sterile area with medical equipments and the right side workspace is the contaminated area for equipments etc.

This screen can show either the medical options the patient has or just some sort of abstract distraction.
A tool to visually communicate with the patient and to trigger
conversations. Avoid eye contact and both are looking in the same direction. Since it occurs situations where patients has the lack of speach because of shock condition or language barriers.
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Designing for Dignity

The project intends to design solutions that dignify the medico-legal process a victim goes through after a sexual assault.

By co-creating with victims of sexual crimes, the medical and legal care teams, social workers and designers; we found critical painpoints in the victims’ path to recovery, which can be improved by:

1. - A blanket that secures DNA traces after an assault by giving comfort and support.

2.- A customized education system with easy language, graphics and a "wise friend" tone.

3.- Architectural and design guidelines for sexual assault medical centers, which gives a form/space to the victims’ needs.


Project done by Jan Kristian Strømsnes and Manuela Aguirre in collaboration with The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), the Sexual Assault Center and Police in Oslo.

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Comments (2)
  • thanks Matt, credits to Jan Kristian Strømsnes as well:)

    8 years ago

  • very nice infographics and walkthrough manuela

    8 years ago

  • very nice infographics and walkthrough manuela

    8 years ago

  • thanks Matt, credits to Jan Kristian Strømsnes as well:)

    8 years ago

Manuela Aguirre
Service Designer Rochester, MN