Fresh from the field – Em by Curative

4 years ago by




The Brief:
The frightening truth is that 1 out of 3 girls in New Zealand may be sexually abused before she turns 16, and most of this abuse (90%) is likely to be done by someone she knows.

And if that isn’t bad enough, this age group also lacks awareness of resources available to support them in the event of an abusive experience. And, they don’t know how to access services, or understand what it might mean to reach out in terms of confidentiality and further loss of control over their journey.

Both HELP Auckland and Curative strongly believe that this is not okay.

To help support our young girls, HELP Auckland identified the need to digitise some of their existing information to meet the needs of young women (in particular those aged 13-18), and approached Curative to help establish a platform specifically for this audience.

The main project objective was to make existing proven HELP resources better meet the digital needs of young people in an attractive and engaging way, that encourages high levels of use and sharing. It was also important that resources were available in a user-friendly way both for young people and the adults around them who may provide support.





The Studio Response:
Given both the subject matter and the audience, we knew that this was a challenging project. It required us to build on and leverage our understanding of the way that young people communicate; while navigating the best ways to help them interact with information about harmful sexual behaviour.

At Curative, we believe that people are the experts in their own lives. We also believe that you only need to give people the permission to be creative, to be part of something, and they can, and will do great things.

Recognising the project’s complexities, we felt this project needed to be led by the insights and life experiences of young women, so we employed a co-design process which spanned over nine months. The process included eight young women aged 16-20 who contributed their thoughts, hopes and aspirations to help ensure that the platform was not just appropriate, but truly meaningful for girls like them.

Feedback from the co-design process highlighted that whatever we did, it couldn’t solely focus on being a sexual harm support platform. It needed to be able to provide a place of trust where young women can learn, grow and feel inspired on everything they deal with on a daily basis. It also needed to be a place that our young women connect with regularly to read and engage with content that’s relevant to them. This way, they’re more likely to seek information or help when they do need it.

The result is Em; a place for young women to have a voice; to find ways to be stronger and more confident in managing stressful situations of all kinds; to recognise sexual harm; and, to learn to support one another.

Em has three main goals:

  • To EMPOWER young people by teaching positive ways to cope with stress and adversity; to be resilient every day.
  • To provide and nurture EMPATHY, through sharing stories of young, inspiring women overcoming tough times and achieving amazing things.
  • To help young people EMBRACE and build the community to support its young women – particularly through educating about sexual abuse, how common it is, and what services are around to help.

At the heart of Em is the Dear Em stories. This is the part of the website where content is most alive and is a consistent drawcard for young women to keep coming back again.  Each of these stories aim to:

  • Celebrate women
  • Share ways of coping through good and bad times
  • Encourage help seeking behaviours
  • Share moments of support between friends, families or strangers
  • Share times of success and times of failure
  • Share hopes for the future
  • Share an opinion on a particular topic related to sexual abuse, feminism, empowerment, and wellbeing
  • Help young women recognise the spectrum of sexual harm and what to do if this is something they are experiencing or have experienced in their lives.

Em also calls young women to be a force, empowering them to look after their mind, body and spirit using tools, daily practices and deeper learning about topics including:

  • Dealing with Emotions
  • Thoughts & Feelings
  • Setting Goals
  • Mindfulness
  • Coping with Flashbacks
  • Calming Techniques
  • Gratitude
  • Meditation
  • Physical Exercise
  • Healthy Eats
  • Restful Sleep
  • Family, Friends & Loved Ones
  • Healthy Sexual Relationships

We were very proud to launch Em in June 2016 by hosting an afternoon tea where young women shared their aspirations for their own schools, friends and families. It was an incredibly vulnerable, real and moving event. As the conversation now continues, and the community grows we are enjoying watching young women answer the call from Em to ‘be a force’.


Curative Credits:
Creative Director: Eddy Royal
Design Director: Jess Holdaway
Design Team: Jo Mitchell, Lucy Scott, Jade Tang-Taylor, Meghan Geliza, Kaan Hiini
Co-Designers: Imogen Dumville, Jessica Merrylees, Kushali Tuinder, Sarah Letford, Ellie Verhulst, Hayley Gosling
Client: Developed in partnership with HELP Auckland.

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