Equitable Health Systems


Sophia- the first chatbot for survivors of domestic violence

Team Leader

Rhiana Spring LL.M.

Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Spring ACT- Action. Compassion. Technologie.

What is the name of your solution?

Sophia- the first chatbot for survivors of domestic violence

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Intelligent agent anonymously assisting survivors of domestic violence to gather evidence,assess their rights,learn their options 24/7 without trace.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

According to the World Health Organization, "Violence against women, whether by an intimate partner or of a sexual nature, is a major public health problem and a major violation of women's rights."  


  • An estimated 736 million women—almost one in three—have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life (30 percent of women aged 15 and older).” and most of this violence is perpetrated by current or former husbands or intimate partners.

  • Almost 24% of adolescent girls aged 15–19 (24 percent) have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner or husband.

  • 1 woman or girl is being killed every 11 minutes in their home and 58 percent by intimate partners or other family members. 

  • 1 in 4 children aged under 5 years live with a mother who is a victim of intimate partner violence


The report of the Federal Office of Statistics "Domestic violence: offenses recorded by the police" offers a comparative view of cases of violence, which reveals the revealing growth of the phenomenon. in the period from 2009 to 2021, serious bodily injuries to women increased from 55 in 2009 to 124 in 2021, assaults from 4,928 to 6,434, and sexual coercion from 143 to 198. The report also mentions several offenses that are equally disturbing, such as kidnapping, abuse of distress, and misuse of a telecommunication facility. All these offenses prove how difficult it is for people suffering from abuse to leave the relationship; to seek and find the necessary help, hence the importance and urgency of having Sophia chatbot whose use is entirely anonymous and leaves no digital trace. 


According to the Gender-based violence  report of the Statistic National Agency "variations by area of residence show that the percentage of women aged 15-49 who have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 is slightly higher in rural areas (27.8%) than in urban areas (25.1%)." Thus, the standard of living and socio-economic and religious considerations have a considerable impact on the help and assistance that is provided to people suffering from abuse, with the absence of specialized services, French language barriers, the lack of diversified means, and a strong risk of isolation within society. Sophia, therefore, becomes a suitable solution as it would be accessible everywhere and available in local languages with sufficient information to guide people in their rights and towards resources and organizations that can help them.


  • The National Institute of Statistics and Informatics has reported that in 2018, 63.2% of girls between 15-49 have suffered violence from their partner. Of those, 58.9% have suffered from psychological, 30.7% from physical and 6.8% from sexual violence. And during months of quarantine domestic and gender violence has increased up to 130% in Peru. According to Statistics of the Judiciary every month 26 men are condemned for having committed femicide (2020-2021). 

It can be said that domestic violence is the most universal evil. All societies and states, wherever they are, face the problem of domestic violence in one way or another. And according to the World Health Organization Intimate partner (physical, sexual and psychological) and sexual violence cause serious short- and long-term physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems for women. They also affect their children’s health and wellbeing.”  Thus, the problem must be addressed in its entirety and 24/7 access to medical and psychosocial care must be ensured for those directly or indirectly affected by this violence. Health services must be available and accessible to all, especially to victims of domestic violence. Because of the seriousness and urgency of the situation, they need special care and support to meet their specific needs.  What should I do? How do I do it? What are my rights? How and where can I get help? What organizations are available near me? Depending on the country or area, there are more or less many organizations working in this direction. Considering the factors of constraints, fear, and stress, it is quite difficult for a victim of domestic violence to access reliable information on both her rights and the organizations that can help her, to sort them out, and to choose the most relevant ones given her situation. In addition to that, Nigeria/Peru/Senegal is a countries with so many ethnic groups there are usually biases against non-ethnic victims from health workers and policies. It's worse for foreign refugees from neighboring countries, affected by Boko Haram from the far northeast. They are often segregated and left out of the system due to unreasonable and unfair bias.

What is your solution?

“I hear you. I see you. I believe you. You are not alone. There are lots of people out here ready and waiting to help”.  

Sophia, the world's first chatbot for survivors of domestic violence is a way to build a trusty relationship between survivors of domestic violence and people that are around to assist them (Health workers, police officers, psychologists….). Developed by a Swiss human rights organization called Spring ACT, Sophia’s main mission is  to help people who are suffering from abuse in 3 ways: 

  • Gathering evidence: survivors can upload potential evidence of the abuse happening in their relationship, whether it’s a photograph of physical violence, voice memos, screenshots of verbal abuse, or documents highlighting financial withholdings. These files are uploaded and securely stored in their personal “vault” on servers located in Switzerland and protected by the highest standard of data privacy rights.

  • Assessing and knowing your rights: Contacting lawyers and police can feel very intimidating in the best of situations. Especially, though, when individuals may be trying to leave a violent relationship and are unsure what awaits them. Sophia walks with survivors through what they need to know about contacting the police and/or how to find legal assistance, summarizes the procedures, and explains to them their rights.

  • Learn about your options: The information out there is overwhelming. Sophia, therefore, acts as a guide through the options and help available to survivors of domestic violence and provides online resources and/or a list of local helplines to call in every single country in the world. 


Sophia hears, sees, and believes survivors, 24/7 regardless of their location from any device with internet access and in English, French, German, and Italian. They just have to type "sophia.chatbot" in the search bar of your web browser or find it on the popular messaging applications by looking for “Sophia Chatbot” in Telegram or Viber (and next month on Whatsapp and Signal). Eventually, Sophia will be available in more than 25 languages. 


Chatting to Sophia is completely anonymous and does not store any personal data. It keeps all the files sent securely in a digital safe on servers in Switzerland (where developers are based). Everything is stored safely and confidentially until the owner – and only the owner – decides to access it. Nobody else but the person who created the digital safe can access it through a secure login system. 


Sophia is a secure tool to obtain relevant and reliable information (types of violence, information about support organisations, your rights, etc.), get the right help, especially medical help, and create a digital safe to record evidence of violence suffered. Spring ACT was accompanied in the development by the umbrella organisation DAO, the Swiss Conference for Victim Support (CSOL-LAVI), lawyers, social workers specialising in domestic violence, and IT companies specialising in cyber security. Each line has been carefully thought out and tested with the help of psychologists specialised in gender-based violence, in order to best respond to the tension and urgency that survivors experience in situations of abuse. Sophia has also been tested by survivors, who were consulted at every stage of her development and who are an integral part of the ACT team.


Currently, Sophia provides localized information on your rights in Switzerland and general help everywhere else in the world. The experts who designed Sophia planned for it to be established in every country in the world with the detailed help that you need in your particular area in your country. Therefore, it is perfectly adaptable, which also facilitates its scalability. In Senegal, Spring ACT is mainly partnering with AJS (Women Lawyers Association), FAFS ( Federation of Feminine Associations in Senegal), and other relevant local NGOs in order to integrate local information and make Sophia available in Senegalese local languages (Wolof, Serere, Peulh, Diola). In Peru, Spring ACT wants to do the same with Pachacutec Foundation and the OLI Foundation network but in Spanish and Quechua.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

We have direct beneficiaries: 

  • Women/Girls suffering from domestic abuse 

  • Children living with a parent suffering from abuse 

*Generally speaking, women and children are the most vulnerable, especially when combined with socio-economic disparities. With this project, women and girls who are in abusive relationships will have equal access to outreach and support services. They will also have a reliable overview of their rights and options 24/7 regardless of their location, ethnicity, religion, or beliefs. But Sophia is also a way to prevent violence or to avoid critical conséquences. If women and girls can be aware of their rights and very able to early notice an abusive relationship and how to react to it, the percentage could drastically go down. 

Indirect beneficiaries: 

  • Professionals assisting people suffering from domestic abuse (Social workers, Doctors, Police Officers, etc) 

*People who intervene in the care and support process must be sufficiently sensitized to domestic violence in order to ensure quality care services that meet the needs of the direct targets. Moreover, for the professionals around the victim of domestic violence, a framework where they are all gathered with their accurate and reliable information is more than necessary to facilitate and accelerate the process of care. Because people suffering from abuse are very often introverted and scared, professionals that are supposed to help should be trained enough to recognize signs and adapt a particular protocol to make them comfortable.  

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Sophia-chatbot, from its conception to its implementation and improvement, is a combination of many experiences and expertise. Survivors of domestic violence, integral members of the Spring ACT team, and professionals working in the field have tested and continue to test each chat line. In doing so, Spring ACT promotes a participatory approach by the communities for which the solution is intended. In addition, to ensure that the communities for which the solution is intended are included and empowered, Spring ACT always puts forward local organizations that are already established and working on the subject; an assurance that the needs, beliefs, and realities of the target communities are respected.

In addition to this, Spring ACT has a diverse, multi-national, multi-disciplinary team, and in each of the target countries, it has a representative in charge of collaboration with local organizations. 

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Build fundamental, resilient, and people-centered health infrastructure that makes essential services, equipment, and medicines more accessible and affordable for communities that are currently underserved;

Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Bern, Suisse

Our solution's stage of development:


How many people does your solution currently serve?

4000 persons have chat to Sophia since the launch in December

Why are you applying to Solve?

Spring ACT has many challenges: 

Sophia touches on several areas of expertise: legal, cultural, technical, social. By offering a global solution, Spring ACT seeks partners with a global reach but also partners with strong local bases and trustworthy relationships with grassroots communities. The more its collaboration network is developed, the better because this will not only guarantee the quality of the solution but also increase the resources available through Sophia. 

As a technology solution to social injustice, Spring ACT may face some cultural resistance and apprehension to technology, hence the major importance it places on communication and awareness. 

Despite Sophia's relevance and usefulness as an NGO, Spring ACT also faces funding challenges for deployment in other countries and related research. 

For all these reasons, Spring ACT believes that Solve is the best network to promote Sophia. 

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Rhiana L. Spring, Director and founder

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

"Sophia" is an innovation on several levels including: 

- Sophia is the world's first chatbot exclusively for victims of domestic violence that helps them save potential evidence and find help near them. 

- It is a digital solution available 24/7, anonymous and without any digital trace. 

- Another strength, and not the least, lies in the fact that Sophia Chatbot is entirely non-profit as chatbots are not yet common in the NGO field. With the documented weaknesses of DV apps in the Global South due to high storage or data usage, expensive extras, or other issues, chatbots are a more affordable and accessible alternative. This argument is born out of the rapidly increasing use of chatbots, particularly in the Global South. As a non-profit organization offering server space for free to DV survivors, Sophia is innovating upon how technology can aid in evidence collection. Finally, with the right funding model and support, we aim to input AI capabilities into Sophia, including NLP and voice-to-text technologies.

- In addition to the many functions it offers, Sophia is progressing in its innovation and is providing a digital vault integrated into the Chatbot whose particularities make it unique in its kind: 

a. The safe allows saving potential evidence (written or vocal messages, images, logs) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 

b. Access to the digital safe is only allowed to the owner and only to the owner 

c. As security, confidentiality, and protection of privacy and personal data are always a top priority, access to the personal data, access to the safe is established in such a way as to find the perfect compromise between the ease for the user not to lose his/her identification elements and the impossibility for any other and the impossibility for any other ill-intentioned person to find or guess them. One of the most important features is that the user will not need to log in (i.e., it is not necessary to provide an email address) to save or retrieve data. 

d. Writing down the password or memorizing it is not an option, as the user is likely to be living in an untrusted and stressed environment. Also, using a password manager on a shared computer or installing it as an application on the user's phone can raise suspicion. For this Spring ACT founded a secure, innovative, and helpful way for users to access their digital safe without having to memorize any password.  For the protection of users, the technique cannot be revealed publicly but could be explained in interviews or meetings. 

e. Also to avoid suspicion, users will browse through completely random URLs from the chat. 

f. All saved items, such as potential evidence, are entirely in the possession and control of the user. She, and only she, can decide what to do with it. 

- The anonymous data Sophia will be able to collect will provide a data-driven response to improve services and support for survivors of domestic violence. This is especially important because 60% of victims never seek help and 80% never go to the police. With this data, we will be able to shed light on the unknown number of domestic violence cases. 

- Languages: Sophia's technology offers a very easy solution to talk with victims of domestic violence in their native language. 

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Next year :

Increase Sophia's reach through local partners, recommendations, and social media: More than 30,000 people will chat with Sophia within a year from all around the world 

Specifically increase Sophia's reach through local partners, recommendations, and social media: People more exposed to domestic violence (in rural areas and with limited resources) are enough aware  and know how to react and find people that can help them

Improve user experience and services: “Feedback” option will be integrated into Sophia to get users' opinions and thoughts

Professionals working in the field will get reliable data on where the main hubs of domestic violence in each country are and will be more responsive in these areas

Integrate local information of at least 10 other countries and in their local languages

Five Years: 

“Report” and “signalisation” options are integrated to give to victims the possibility to directly reach out to the police or authorities working in the field

Local information of at least 50 other countries and in their local languages integrated

User experience improved as we go along with country implementation

More than a million organizations all around the world are available in Sophia as the bank of resources dedicated to helping women suffering from  abuse

Exchanges between countries and continents to establish a code of conduct for professionals, harmonize the intervention, especially with foreigners and migrants, and share good practices.

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

To prioritize a people-centered infrastructure to ensure essential health services to victims of domestic violence we are monitoring:

  • Number of users globally and specified by country

  • Number of users classified in each country to define the hubs of domestic violence

  • Number of countries where Sophia is implemented with local information and languages

  • Numbers of organizations available in Sophia

  • Awareness and advocacy done in each country, on social media, and globally

  • Feedback from users

  • Signalisations and reports to police or relevant authorities

  • Enter-countries/continents exchanges and meetings

To actively build trust and engagement between historically underserved communities and their health systems we incentivize a closer approach with empathy towards the victims. Also, this will reduce bias from the social services.  The indicators to do so are:

  • Number of workshops for local authorities and healthcare personnel

  • Number of onboarded authorities

  • Number of “leaders” participating in workshops

To monitor if the development of Sophia has a correlation with the strengthening of the domestic violence healthcare system, there will be indicators to define the social baseline for victims of domestic violence such as: 

  • Number of medical care through Sophia by region/country

  • Number of social care through Sophia by region/country

What is your theory of change?

Spring ACT strongly believes that change comes from an inner drive, will, and commitment. Change comes from the grassroots, from the communities affected by the issues at hand. The communities for whom the solutions are intended must themselves participate in identifying their challenges, classifying their strengths and areas for improvement, setting their goals and priorities, and thinking about how to achieve them. It is for this very reason that Spring ACT favors a participatory approach at all times. If a solution is thought out and developed externally without any involvement of the beneficiary community except for the implementation, it is rather an imposed solution. And in most cases, this is why humanitarian projects sometimes fail or are not sustainable.  When communities and individuals are involved in the whole process, they are more committed, feel more concerned about the solutions, and are more likely to change their behavior permanently, because they will have understood the need for change to achieve their own goals. To achieve this, in each targeted country, Spring ACT puts forward local actors and calls for the active participation of the population. Therefore, beyond Sophia-chatbot which is perfectly adaptable to local needs and realities and which is essentially victim-centered, Spring ACT seeks to organize actors and persons concerned around focus groups to exchange on the issue of domestic violence and to find ways to eradicate or prevent it by finding other ways of solving the problems. 

In a more global way, domestic violence is a global pandemic that was even further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Every region has its own local organizations to support survivors, its own laws governing abuse, and its own customs: What is universal is the difficulty of survivors to inform themselves about the issue of abuse, to access resources, and to gather evidence against the perpetrator – and all of this easily, around the clock, and most importantly, discreetly and safely – so as not to escalate the situation even further.

At Kona Connect, we believe that the existing, widespread technology of instant messaging, coupled with AI technologies like chatbots, can be part of the solution to these problems.

Our approach to DV draws on the mobile health scholarship that emphasizes

Sophia uses the latest in conversational technology offered by Zendesk in their commitment to our work. Due to the sensitive nature of DV, security, trust, and privacy are paramount. Zendesk’s Sunshine system provides a stable base on which to build, providing API access, built-in integrations to popular messaging apps, out of the box security, and logic for the conversation flow. We are building on top of the tried and tested Zendesk Sunshine platform in order to create a seemingly human chatbot that, on first glance, will not look like an adviser for abusive situations. This will be done by deleting the chats after a set timeout and adding a "false" conversation in its place. Images, text, and others can be retrieved from Sophia by using uncommon, personal phrases that will allow the "true" conversations with Sophia to be retrieved. The content of the conversations themselves will not be saved but users will be able to upload text, audio, and images; these will be securely stored in an S3-compliant storage system (based in Switzerland). At the forefront of technology and always looking for ways to make it work for users, Spring ACT has found a unique, innovative and extremely secure way to relieve survivors of the need to remember or write down a password. For the protection of users, the technique cannot be revealed publicly but could be explained in interviews or meetings. 

the importance of embedding tech development within local contexts and with the input of on-the-ground stakeholders. Thus, by developing and making Sophia available to the public and collaborating with national DV and other relevant stakeholders, in the short term, more survivors will be aware of this tool and gain easy and safe access to information, and the workload of local organizations can be alleviated. In the medium term, this will lead to survivors having more knowledge, skills, and confidence to deal with their situation. Thus, hopefully, the long-term impact will be that more survivors actually seek help and manage to break the cycle of violence earlier.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Sophia uses the latest in conversational technology offered by Zendesk in their commitment to our work. Due to the sensitive nature of DV, security, trust, and privacy are paramount. Zendesk’s Sunshine system provides a stable base on which to build, providing API access, built-in integrations to popular messaging apps, out-of-the-box security, and logic for the conversation flow. We are building on top of the tried and tested Zendesk Sunshine platform in order to create a seemingly human chatbot that, at first glance, will not look like an adviser for abusive situations. This will be done by deleting the chats after a set timeout and adding a "false" conversation in its place. Images, text, and others can be retrieved from Sophia by using uncommon, personal phrases that will allow the "true" conversations with Sophia to be retrieved. The content of the conversations themselves will not be saved but users will be able to upload text, audio, and images; these will be securely stored in an S3-compliant storage system (based in Switzerland). At the forefront of technology and always looking for ways to make it work for users, Spring ACT has found a unique, innovative, and extremely secure way to relieve survivors of the need to remember or write down a password. For the protection of users, the technique cannot be revealed publicly but could be explained in interviews or meetings. 

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Robotics and Drones
  • Software and Mobile Applications

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities
  • 16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Switzerland

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Colombia
  • Ethiopia
  • France
  • Nigeria
  • Peru
  • Senegal
  • Thailand
  • Turkiye
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?


How many people work on your solution team?

2 full time (Director and Deputy Director), 3 part-time (Software Engineer, Head of Operations, Privacy and Security Engineer), 80 Volunteers all around the world.

How long have you been working on your solution?

Spring ACT has been working specifically on the issue of domestic violence since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. However, the management team of human rights and children's rights experts has been working on humanitarian issues for a decade.

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

The Spring ACT management team is composed of 3 people each based in Europe, Africa, and South America, and of different religions. The team, as small as it is, has a representation of all three genders. And the large team of 80 volunteers offers great diversity both culturally and in terms of skills, beliefs, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity. The diversity of the team is one of the greatest strengths of the team today, as it allows for many important and sometimes overlooked factors and parameters to be taken into account when creating solutions.  

Spring ACT is committed to inclusiveness and diversity and has made it a point of honor to enshrine it in its code of conduct to better protect the opinions, beliefs, realities, and backgrounds of all individuals, team members, and non-team members alike, and to provide a framework for expression that is free of any vice. 

Given the discrimination often experienced by women, minorities, and people of color, Spring ACT's public communications strongly encourage respect for their rights and their promotion. Although secular, Spring ACT respects the religious affiliation of each individual. 

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Given the numbers on domestic violence, having Sophia available 24/7, in multiple languages, and with local information to guide victims is a necessity. The opportunity for the different stakeholders to have their services, contact, location, and areas of expertise grouped in a secure chatbot without a digital trail, aimed at victims of domestic violence is also a great strength of the project. Several expressions of interest to have Sophia have been registered in Peru and Senegal with the above-mentioned partners, but also in France with Elien rebirth and HeHop, in Turkey with Legal Design with UNDP, in Thailand with Thailand Institute of Justice, in the UK with Refuge and in the Balkans with IAMANEH. 

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

As a technology that is perfectly capable of operating independently from its implementation in a country, Sophia does not require large funds for its operation. Spring ACT operates at low cost, especially in terms of human resources. Most of the expenses are for development, local research, integration of new options and settings into the chatbot, translation into local languages, and setting up and securing the chatbot in a given country. For this, Spring ACT diversifies its fundraising actions by submitting grants and organizing fundraising and crowfunding events. An important source of long-term sustainability is membership, which Spring ACT has decided to promote and increase considerably this year. 

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

Crowdfunding event: august 2021 41,000 CHF

Fundraising event with “les ateliers” 2,000 CHF and during the launch: + 1200

Memberships: 2000 CHF

Donations: 1000 CHF

Volunteering time: more than 21000 working hours 

Ladies lunch support in Switzerland: approved 

E-government funding: approved

The Lions Club Forch Zurich: approved

We want to involve the Government and act with them.1

Solution Team

  • NC NC
    Ndeye Diodio Calloga Deputy Director, Spring Acton. Compassion. Technologie.
  • Rhiana Spring LL.M. CEO and Founder, Spring ACT – Action. Compassion. Technology.
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