Legislation to expand access to domestic violence services, authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, has been signed into law. AB 689 will allow for survivors of domestic violence to seek help via text and other computer-based technologies.
“Domestic Violence touches too many of our lives and harms too many of our families,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, author of AB 689 (D-Laguna Beach). “I have been that 12-year-old girl locked in a bathroom with her mom, hiding from our abuser, so I know that moment of desperation. These additional tools and technologies will give survivors more ways to get help when they desperately need it.”
In California, 34.9% of women and 31.1% of men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In 2019, the National Domestic Violence Hotline documented 29,659 contacts from California, the highest in the nation.
“When survivors are ready to reach out for assistance or information it is vital that they have multiple options for doing so,” said AB 689 Sponsor Beth Hassett, CEO of WEAVE.“Expanding the crisis line service to include texting or live chat gives them more doors for entry into lifesaving services and support.”
The Covid-19 Pandemic has caused a dramatic increase in California’s already alarming rates of domestic violence. On a typical day before the pandemic, domestic violence hotlines received approximately 13 calls a minute. As a result of the pandemic, the National Domestic Violence Hotline saw a 9% increase in calls, texts and chats—indicating a clear uptick in need.
The current requirement for domestic violence centers is limited in its definition to phone-based hotlines. Due to this narrow definition, domestic violence centers that want to provide other types of hotline services are unable to receive state funding to expand such services.
By modernizing domestic violence shelter requirements to include the option of other technological platforms, AB 689 allows for domestic violence centers to be better equipped to help more survivors of domestic violence. Additionally, the state will be better able to track and collect more accurate data about domestic abuse.