A survivor of sexual assault has used cryptocurrency to anonymously crowdsource the funds to become financially independent, in a demonstration of a new use case for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
The survivor turned to crypto crowdfunding in September via crypto payment platform Seeds, raising $500 after she was left unable to work for several months following her attack.
Crucially, because of the anonymity of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, she was able to do so without disclosing her identity, other than to the Seeds CEO Rachel Cook.
Discussing the case, Cook said she felt it was important to find a way that cryptocurrency could help survivors, including those left in financial hardship as a result of abuse.
“I met this woman in person, by coincidence, and we started talking about #MeToo movement…Survivors have trouble giving themselves permission to ask for money…The next logical extension I saw in that [#metoo] was we need to talk about how this economic [crypto] system can meet this need.”
“We have to let people know that this is available and that people can use it without feeling uncomfortable…We want to fill that gap.”
If the survivor had chosen to raise funds through a site like Kickstarter, she would have been required to submit ID – a factor which could potentially have linked her to her specific story, thereby risking her anonymity and ultimately her safety.
Cook said that most survivors are financially trapped in abusive relationships, without access to the resources they need to leave their partners.
“Survivors, like other disadvantaged folks, lack wealth-building vehicles…The main reason why women stay in abusive relationships is because they are dependent upon their partners.”
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin can be sent directly to an anonymous wallet address, and can be accessed by the victim in cases like these without any risk of their personal information being disclosed.
Especially in cases of violent and abusive relationships, this anonymity is one of the major benefits of raising money through cryptocurrency rather than through traditional online platforms.
The Seeds platform has so far handled twelve ‘Requests for Help’ of sums ranging from $100 to $1200 per request.