Empowering and supporting survivors of sexual assault, domestic and family violence.


1800 Respect




Non-profit organization

My role

Senior UX Researcher and Senior UX Designer


Experience research piece
Information architecture
Redesign and rebuild

Design challenge

How might we allow survivors of sexual assault, domestic and family violence to find information and support in a safe, trauma informed environment?


This was a powerful project. The client offers information, phone counseling and support for survivors of sexual assault, domestic and family violence. The previous website had been pieced together over years of growth, as a result had lost direction, and was missing some of the nuance required for such an important space.

Many of the people (mostly women) accessing this site are doing so from dangerous situations, often needing to hide their internet usage from perpetrators, which was taken into consideration. The information on the website needs to be found fast, and needs to be AAA accessible.

This organisation is government funded, therefor the entire project and research process needed to go through rigorous approvals, which we passed with flying colours, in fact it was the first project to ever pass the Australian approvals.

The entire project and website was required to take trauma informed design into consideration, which is very new in the digital space. Trauma informed design is well research in the architectural space, and in some aspects of service design, but we were unable to find any examples in the UX space, we were leading the way.


Below is a little insight into the process for this project.

This was a 12 week research piece which I led as Senior UX designer. The product is now complete and live.


Throughout the research phase, we conducted workshops with the client and with special interest groups, including women with disability and trauma specialists.

User interviews

I interviewed dozens of of survivors of sexual assault, domestic and family violence over the span of this research phase. Their stories and knowledge were invaluable.

Trauma informed design

Trauma informed design is a relatively untouched space in the digital world. We dived deep into reforming and rethinking many of the trauma informed design pillars from the physical world into the UX world.



We studied the analytics from the current version of the website to find where users were getting lost and frustrated.

Landscape analysis

We looked into who was leading the way in accessibility, usability and inclusiveness. We were unable to find digital example of trauma informed design.

Information architecture

This is a website with a massive amount of content, all of which is important to different types of users. We completely restructured the IA, and A/B tested every decision along the way.

Ideation and sketching

We did lots of sketching in workshops to bring out as many ideas as possible. We also user-tested some paper prototypes for quick insights.

Wireframes and prototypes

Once I had some results from paper prototypes, I created wireframes and and clickable prototypes for user testing.

User testing

We tested the wireframe with participants and iterated based on the results. We also tested photography examples, colour palettes, voice and tone, language and other inclusive aspects of the site.

This website needs to feel like a digital cup of tea.

Survivor of sexual assault.Trauma informed design workshop.

The user journeys.

There are 3 primary users of this website; women experiencing (sexual assault, domestic or family violence), friends and family and front-line workers. The journeys below were constructed after dozens of interviews and workshops.

Click images for a larger view.

Section 1.


The content on this website is of utmost importance. It literally helps people remove themselves from abusive situations, or learn techniques about minimising harm if they choosing to stay in an abusive relationship.

One of the key factors to consider when designing this content is to understand that people’s ability to absorb content/information is severely reduced when in the state of trauma, regardless of intelligence. Given this fact, we lowered the cognitive load of the user and ensured all written content is delivered at a grade 4 reading level.

Section 2.

Information Architecture

One of the biggest challenges for this project was the IA. We remapped all of the content, and completely restructured the IA using Treejack and card-sorting tools along the way.

I A/B tested the old IA and the new IA using ‘user tasks’ as the constant, until we were satisfied that the content was easy to find.

Section 3.

Trauma informed design

Trauma is different for all people, however there are some common, recognised themes which we integrated into the design of the website. Below are our trauma informed pillars with which we endeavoured to instil in the website.


Section 4.

Accessibility and inclusiveness

This site needed to pass AAA accessibility standards, so all of the usual suspects were taken into consideration Eg. font size, colour contrast, screen readers, change colour of background etc…

In addition to the standard AAA accessibility considerations, we needed to make the site inclusive to all Australians. Woman with disability, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have a much higher risk of sexual assault, family or domestic violence than other Australians, therefor this space needed to be safe for them. Considerations around photography, safe colours choices, avoiding trauma triggers, finding ‘people like me’ on the site, not being overly connected to the ‘un-trustworthiness of the government’ all needed to be included in these designs.

Section 5.

Quick exit and hiding usage

Woman using this site are often doing so in secret, and need to exit the site quickly to avoid being caught by the perpetrator. They also need their to cover their tracks. The quick exit button on the site opens a safe tab and changes the old tab to a safe destination. We were unable to automatically remove the history from the browser, but we do ensure that we educate the survivors about this browser functionality, and general internet safety.

Adopt a universal assumption of inclusion; that is, assume that all consumers receiving services are trauma survivors.

Harris, Maxine and Roger D Fallot.Using Trauma Theory to Design Service Systems.

A few more screens…

All of the screen below were designed by myself, this was a large content piece therefor the screens were created as templates to be used throughout the website. The UI (not shown) was completed by another designer.