State launches new text hotline for victims of domestic abuse amid COVID-19 quarantine

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On April 24, Governor Cuomo announced a new confidential, text-based program for victims to contact the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and get the help they need.

Due to social distancing protocol, those who are victims of domestic violence are more vulnerable and unsafe while isolated at home without being able to get away from their abuser. In April 2020, the number of calls to New York‘s domestic violence hotline are up 30% compared to last year. Calls also increased 18% from February to March 2020. The New York State Police also report domestic violence incident calls were up 15% in March compared to last year.

“New Yorkers are living through an unimaginably stressful period and we’re seeing signs that domestic violence is on the rise as victims are stuck at home with their abusers and unable to access the help they need,” Governor Cuomo said. “We’ve been working with state agencies to help address this issue and provide more resources, and this new text program and confidential online service will help make it easier for victims to get the help they need and get out of potentially dangerous situations.”

New Yorkers who are seeking help can text 844-997-2121 or chat with a professional on the new confidential website at www.opdv.ny.gov. The text and online services will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with OPDV staff who are experts in the area of domestic violence.

Ever since New York State went on PAUSE, OPDV and many state agency partners have been working to pursue strategies for putting safety information in front of victims in places that such information would not normally be available, including on social media accounts of public utilities or tax/finance. There are also efforts in place to get safety flyers with the Hotline number hung up in essential retailers, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and home repair stores, among others.

“The reality is that abuse victims are often closely surveilled by their abuser,” Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor and Chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls, said. “In New York, no one should be at risk because they can’t find a way to make their need for help known.  The text and online confidential service programs we are rolling out today will provide additional and better methods for victims of domestic violence to get the help and intervention they need when they need it.”