In a 24-hour period, advocates at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (the Hotline) answered more than 700 calls from people looking for life-saving resources. But, the Hotline reported that in that same time frame, nearly 600 other calls went unanswered. Advocates face this challenge daily; last year alone, those 600 calls a day added up to 52,000 callers who did not receive help.
The Hotline provides 24/7 confidential support and free lifesaving tools to enable victims to find safety and live lives free of abuse. To help reach additional callers, the Hotline will now offer online chat services funded by a $250,000 grant from Verizon. The service started as a six-week pilot program, sponsored by the Verizon Foundation, to test the demand for online chat services. During the pilot, 98 percent of the 22,500 visitors to the Hotline’s website who were invited to chat online with an advocate took advantage of the option.
The technology allows the Hotline’s trained advocates, who are in communication with the individual seeking help, to quickly link that person to resources on the Hotline’s website or provide them with information about local resources available to them.
Katie Ray-Jones, president of the Hotline, said the test phase proved there is a great need to provide online help. “More and more people are turning to online and digital resources for information on domestic abuse than ever before,” she said.
Through its HopeLine program, Verizon is offering the Hotline an opportunity to receive an additional $250,000 in matching funds. The Hotline will host a national cell phone drive that will allow the public to donate their no-longer-used wireless devices from any provider in any condition. Members of the public looking to get involved can host a drive in their community.