Cell Phones Combat Domestic Abuse

Each October, traditions such as Halloween and midterms often overshadow one important issue: domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The month-long observance emerged from the “Day of Unity” in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). Their purpose was to unite other advocacy groups to stop violence against children and women. With the integration of several groups, one day soon became a week, and eventually an entire month, which was committed to ending domestic violence.

Through a wide range of activities, DVAM mourns the victims of domestic violence, celebrates the survivors and strives to connect with organizations that desire to end domestic violence. One particular group, HopeLine from Verizon, has teamed up with the National Network to end domestic violence.

“HopeLine is a program that puts the nation’s most reliable network to work,” said Cameka Crawford, manager of multicultural communication.

For the past 10 years, Hopeline has collected donated cell phones from people and organizations. The cell phones are collected, they are restyled and refurbished. The FAMU Department of Public Safety collects cell phones on campus, and officers urge students to contribute to the cause.

“We turn them into cash grants and provide refurbished phones to people in domestic violence homes or shelters,” said Crawford. “A wireless phone can be a lifeline.”

HopeLine’s intent is to save lives through cell phones. About one-third of female homicide victims are killed by a intimate partner, according to the NCADV.

Victims who carry a cell phone have a better chance of survival than those who don’t carry one. Each cell phone is not just redesigned, but its equipped with 3,000 minutes of airtime.

“If there is ever a victim who needs a phone, we have one as their outlet,” said Crawford.

HopeLine has collected more than eight million phones and $10 million in cash grants over the past 10 years. The program has also distributed 106,000 phones to those involved in cases of domestic violence, Crawford said.

Domestic violence serves as a business and community problem, so HopeLine has created a method to help spread the word.

“The Journey of Hope bus is a cross-country listening tour that collects and shares the stories of people affected by domestic violence,” said Crawford. “Helping is as easy as taking up faith in a phone and donating it.”

Brice Wright, a graduate assistant at Sunshine Manor, organized seminars and activities in preparation for the month.

“We did many of our seminars last month, specifically because of what happened with Shannon Washington,” said Wright. “There were domestic violence forums, panel discussions and we distributed pamphlets that inform people about it.”

Fourth-year chemistry student Morgan Carrington, 21, from Baltimore said HopeLine could be helpful, but is only a short-term answer to a long-term problem.

“I think it could be beneficial, but preventative measures would be better,” said Carrington.

For more information or help contact the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at (850) 425-2749.