Domestic Violence

Help people from domestic violence during the quarantine.


This is a project done in 48 hours and we won first place at the MIT COVID-19 Challenge hackathon.

We tried to tackle the problem of domestic violence during the quarantine. 


Social distancing during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic shuts down and disrupts the current system of supporting individuals experiencing or trying to flee domestic or intimate partner violence.


A responsive website allowing people experiencing domestic violence to take a  risk assessment and connect with local social workers online to get help.



User journey



March, 2020

(48 hours)





Casey Wu (me)

Aarani Paramalingam (researcher)

Nancy Picard (researcher)

Shai Dinnar (researcher)

Danielle Kokochak (researcher)

Madison Schott (researcher)

Natasha Merali (researcher)


User Research

We only have 48 hours for the hackathon, so most of our user research is based on secondary research.

Data Source:

  • Academic Journals

  • Non-profit Organizations

  • National Institute

  • Media


increase in new visitors to NYC Domestic Violence webiste at COVID-19 onset.


increase of reported domestic violence cases in New York City during quarantine.

Problem Identification

Based on the result of secondary research, we identified 3 essential needs for people experiencing domestic violence.


New victims of domestic violence need to know that they are experiencing domestic violence.

Seeking help

Victims need a way to connect with local social workers to seek help.

Discreet method

Victims need to visit the website in a discreet way to avoid being found by their abusive partners.



Researchers in our team are experts and scholars in the field of domestic violence studies. Based on their previous interviews and studies directly with victims, they created 2 personas for our two main groups of users. I visualized the personas.

Persona 2.png
Persona 2 Copy.png

User Journey

Based on the analysis of the personas and our expectations of the product, we illustrated the to-be user journey. 

User Journey@2x.jpg


We prototype out the key functions of the responsive website for helping people in domestic violence during social distancing.

Home Page

The home page contains our three main sections: self-assessment tool, help center, and professional articles.

Self-assessment Tool
ezgif.com-video-to-gif (1).gif

Our self-assessment tool is based on the HITS (Hurt, Insult, Threaten, and Scream) tool, which is one of the most commonly used screening tool in governments and universities to identify victims of domestic violence.

By asking questions, the self-assessment tool helps users understand that they are experiencing domestic violence and the level of the risk.

Help Center

The Help Center connects users to their local institutes that help victims of domestic violence. We encourage users to connect through online messages instead of phone calls for a more discreet approach.

Messages From Social Workers

We will connect social workers with victims who are in high risk of domestic violence to provide them with direct help. No users' personal information will be needed or required unless they agree to reveal it to specific social workers.

Try it out by yourself !

Next Step

Our proposal won first place of the "Social Distancing" track in the MIT COVID-19 Challenge hackathon. We are provided with fundings and resources to further develop our idea.

Right now, we have made connections with several institutes in universities, governments, and non-profit organizations to further address and tackle the problem of domestic violence during quarantine.

Our team is in the process of seeking partnership and building the website.

What I learned

  • How to work as a team. I was the only designer in the team - all the other teammates are researchers. Inevitably, they focused more on research and content. We had a lot of negotiation and compromises to match things together. 

  • How to prototype fast. I was left with 10 hours to finish both the user journey and the prototype. High pressure stimulated me to prototype as fast as I can while ensuring the quality.

  • How to design for good. Designing something that has positive social impact can ignite a lot of passion, while at the same time, we need to be aware that we are designing for vulnerable groups and they have special needs.