LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — There used to be a time that if you needed to call for help inside your home there may have been only a few places inside where you have a phone.
Now nearly everyone has cell phone and making a call for help is easy. But there are times when calling for help isn't the best option. And for people in a domestic violence situation, it could make an already volatile situation worse!
That's why the 24-hour crisis hotline for SafeNest, a nonprofit agency which assists abused women and children, has launched live online chat and texting capabilities.
Laurie Cody is the Vice President of Communications and Marketing for SafeNest.
"This gives us just another way to communicate with our callers who are in crisis and they don't have to speak a word," said Cody.
It’s the same hotline that has been assisting women in crisis since 1978, answering more than 500,000 calls since then. But now there's an option to reach out for help that some victims might find less intimidating or safer.
Instead of calling they can go to SafeNest’s website. There they can answer a few questions, or get connected directly via text or chat to the hotline and an advocate who guides them through their next steps to safety. There they can answer a few questions, or get connected directly via text or chat to the hotline and an advocate who guides them through their next steps to safety.
"The ability to make a call is not always an option when you are in crisis,” said Cody. ”Or when you are trying to hide or you are in a lethal situation and can't get to a place to make an actual phone call."
The soft launch was on Jan. 1 with new software used by many non profit hotlines. SafeNest advocates underwent training to learn how to communicate in delicate situations using only text.
"It can't convey personality,” Cody said. “It can't convey the feelings behind the words the way a phone call can."
Liz Ortenburger, CEO SafeNest, admits there was a bit of a learning curve.
"And of course like everyone over 40 we had to get training on what are the text acronyms because not only does that change regularly, but it's also different depending on who you are chatting with,” said Ortenburger.
Once word gets out it's available there's hope this small upgrade in technology will allow SafeNest to connect with and help even more victims of domestic violence.
If you or someone you know needs help getting out of a domestic abuse situation you can call the crisis hotline at (702) 646-4981. And remember you can now send a text to that number and be connected to a SafeNest trained crisis advocate. The hotline is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.