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Olivia DeRamus, Creator of the Restless Network, on Building a Platform for Women to Connect & Share Resources After Trauma

Meet Olivia DeRamus, a true success story. A survivor of sexual assault and the founder of Restless Network, a platform dedicated to empowering women through community and information, Olivia triumphed over a years-long legal battle during which every attempt was made to take her voice away. She was isolated, deprived of communication with her family and friends, and left unsupported by inadequate university systems which, according to Olivia, “are not treating survivors fairly, or protecting [survivors] when we’re being retaliated against.” In spite of such challenges, Olivia has forged a support system for herself and others by spearheading Restless. 

With a team of partners from the USA and UK, as well as writers from all over the world, Restless is “on a mission to amplify women’s voices and empower [them] through information and connection.” The Restless Network lives up to its purpose online and through an app by providing users the opportunity to connect with other members and share thoughts and requests for advice. The app also provides access to exclusive podcasts, video content, articles and downloadable resources, and content on the website is organized under the categories of Power, Pleasure, Obsessions and Self. Topics range from advice for single women navigating the holiday season to an interview discussing how the rape reporting process must adapt to support transgender individuals. “It’s really been about what can help women right now,” says Olivia. 

Finding strength and healing in community

Olivia’s drive to create the platform was deeply entwined with her own story of rediscovering her power. “When the ability to communicate my lived experience was taken away from me… I could never think of a worse experience,” she says. Her legal proceedings made it difficult to communicate with friends and reach out to mental health professionals, and she found few resources on the internet. However, she found strength in the support of her parents, despite fears that disclosing information regarding her court cases would endanger them. It was during this time of near isolation that Olivia discovered the healing power of connection and information. She channeled this source of personal strength into a universal level, creating a safe space for herself and others to utilize. 

Stepping into entrepreneurship 

Olivia was twenty-three and still finishing up her undergraduate degree when she began to work on establishing the Restless platform. As a major in international affairs, she encountered a steep learning curve in navigating the business world as a female entrepreneur. “My personal challenge has really been to advocate for myself in business, and that’s something that I really didn’t consider,” she says. “There are very few resources that teach you how to negotiate.” 

She was fortunate enough to encounter many people who were interested in the work she and her team were doing, but there are always going to be critics. She was challenged to alter a reality of the male-dominated tech industry that many women are faced with – the need to be agreeable. “Really pushing aside that need to be liked that so many of us have is really important when confronting the tech world or confronting different obstacles in business,” she says. 

A restless success story

Olivia has found further success via the Restless platform. She recalls a woman reaching out to her about her experience on the app, stating that she was on the path to healing due to the help and resources she received from the platform. For Olivia, having that impact and helping a survivor in need is the fulfillment of her mission. “That, to me, is everything that I wanted for myself and for other women when we created this app,” she says. 

For Olivia, the term “empowerment” is beyond the common, surface-level conception. She believes true empowerment is “something that only you can define for yourself,” and is always associated with happiness, safety, and security. Today, young women often believe or are instructed to believe, that empowerment rests in being an ever-busy businesswoman, constantly struggling to maintain a work-life balance. Olivia believes that this dominant narrative is incorrect, and that success could simply be getting out of bed and going to class every morning – true words to live by. 

She believes that one of the best ways to confront the patriarchal elements of society is expressing simple humanity. “You can take the hard choice [using empathy], or the easy choice,” she says. “Really taking that choice to use empathy is actually an incredibly powerful thing to do.” 

For those who are survivors of sexual assault or are struggling with any other #MeToo related challenges, Olivia also advocates for adhering to your own convictions. “Don’t let people who don’t understand your experience dictate to you what you should be doing. The only person who knows what’s right for you is you.” She points to her own experience as an example. “Where I went wrong was letting other people make me feel bad for what I knew was the right choice for me,” she says. For those who are supporting friends or family members, Olivia stresses the importance of listening with an open mind. “Be an active listener,” she says. “Giving your friend or giving your loved one the space to express themselves, and showing them that they have a support person who’s not going to judge them, is the best gift you can give a survivor.”

The Restless Network app is available for download on both the Apple and Android app store. You can also access the Restless website here.