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New Devices Aiming to Help Prevent Sexual Assault

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UNITED STATES  --  It's a sobering statistic: one out of every five women will be sexually assaulted while in college.

This is something likely on the minds of many students as they head back to school, but as NBC's Liz McLaughlin reports, new tools and technology are aiming to help combat the problem.

"I consider sexual assault as a disease in our society," said Manisha Mohan, an MIT researcher and the inventor of the Intrepid smart sticker.

Mohan hopes this "disease" can be cured with wearable technology, including Intrepid, which can be worn on any clothing and can sense if clothing is being removed, even if the victim is unconscious.

"A victim is unable to stand up for themselves, and we want to cater to those kind of situations," said Mohan.

It connects with a smartphone app that can contact five people in the case of an emergency, and is the newest addition to the safety device market. The Roar Athena is a wearable device that can alert trusted contacts of location and status.

"And then the user can see where you are as well as call in real time."

The Revolar Instinct is a similar device that's more like a keychain, with a button to send for help. There's even a date-rape-detecting nail polish in development called Undercover Colors.

"We continue to try to change how victims act, and the only person who can stop it is the perpetrator," said Dr. Annelise Mennicke of the UNC Charlotte School of Social Work.

Dr. Mennicke has been working on sexual assault prevention for more than seven years. She says while these devices may be helpful tools, it's going to take more to put an end to sexual violence.

"If we just shifted from how to protect a victim to how to we equip a bystander, I think we could make some real progress to keep these crimes from occurring," she said.

The technology can add peace of mind, but the responsibility of prevention is on everyone.