president Bob Stott announced a statewide initiative to provide 600 wireless phones to high-risk victims of domestic violence, enabling them to instantly dial 9-1-1 and receive emergency police or medical assistance 24 hours a day.
"For women who fear for their lives and the lives of their children, dialing 9-1-1 is often times their only link to safety. These phones put safety in the palm of their hands," said Cellucci. "We are dedicated to using every resource at our disposal to fight the war against domestic violence -- and today we've taken another step toward protecting women from the blows of abusive men."
Responding to Cellucci's challenge for private companies to join his effort to combat domestic violence, Bell Atlantic Mobile has donated 600 wireless phones to be distributed to battered women across the Commonwealth through local police departments, domestic violence shelters, and advocacy groups. The phones will provide victims of domestic violence with security and protection they need to safely leave an abusive relationship.
"The telecommunications industry is advancing so rapidly that many of us take for granted the ease with which we communicate, anytime, anywhere," said Bob Stott, Bell Atlantic Mobile regional president. "But there are many individuals, particularly victims of domestic violence, whose circumstances do not allow them take communication and, even more importantly, their safety for granted. This program provides instant emergency communication to those domestic violence victims."
Each of the state's 32 battered women's service groups will receive five wireless phones and five battery charges with instructions on how to operate the phones. The remaining 440 phones will be issued to local police departments for distribution to battered women who live day-by-day with the threat of attack from abusive boyfriends or husbands. The wireless phones are pre-programmed to send outbound 9-1-1 calls only.
"Few of us can imagine what it is like to live each moment in fear as these women and children do," said Joyce Williams-Mitchell, executive director of the Coalition. "Courage to break away and stay away from violent relationships is a process. These phones make it possible to stay in the process."
In 1996, the Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women's Service Groups received approximately 75,000 calls for assistance from victims. They also provided shelter to more than 3,000 women and their children.
Last October, Cellucci, who chairs the Governor's Commission on Domestic Violence declared 1998 the Year of Domestic Violence Awareness in Massachusetts and has been unwavering in his crusade for zero tolerance for domestic violence.
Bell Atlantic Mobile's donation is part of the company's umbrella community relations program, "Wireless at Work...", which provides the communities the company serves with the means to improve safety, security and emergency communications through wireless equipment and service. Last October, the company made a state-wide donation of Hopeline(r), a confidential voice mail system, to transition homes and domestic violence shelters in Massachusetts.