Petrie-Norris introduced bill would modernize domestic violence hotlines

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Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) was sworn in for a second term in December 2020 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. Courtesy of 74th Assembly District Office

Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) has introduced AB 689 which will support the expansion of domestic violence crisis hotline services to include computer chat and phone text platforms. This bill passed the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee with unanimous support.

“The stay-at-home order has had a side effect of trapping victims of domestic violence at home with their abusers,” Petrie-Norris said in a statement. “This alarming spike in domestic violence cases has highlighted the need for additional methods for seeking help. Text and chat options will expand access and safety for individuals experiencing violence at home.”

The COVID-19 Pandemic has spurred a dramatic increase in the state’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.

“When survivors are ready to reach out for assistance or information it is vital that they have multiple options for doing so,” bill sponsor Beth Hassett, CEO of the advocacy group WEAVE, said in a prepared statement. “Expanding the crisis line service to include texting or live chat gives them more doors for entry into lifesaving services and support.”

The current requirement for domestic violence centers is limited to phone-based hotlines. This means domestic violence centers that want to diversify hotline services are unable to receive state grants to expand services.

“Survivors of domestic violence are often isolated and prevented from reaching out for help,” said Krista Niemczyk, Public Policy Director at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. “That’s why chat and text-based hotlines are crucial. They allow survivors to connect with advocates when they cannot safely call a hotline.”

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