By Tracey Dowdy
For most of us, our cell phone is how we connect with friends, family and even co-workers. We call, we text, and we post pictures of our lunch, our kids and our pets. We check our email, we do our online banking, we surf the web for news and entertainment. For victims of domestic violence, a cell phone is far more than a way to stay entertained – it’s a lifeline.
What Does Domestic Violence Look Like?
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior intended to establish power and control over another individual, either by fear or intimidation which often taking the form of physical aggression. Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness in America and it crosses every social, ethnic, gender, racial and economic boundary. One in every three female homicide victims is murdered by a current or former partner. From an economic perspective, domestic violence costs upward of $37 billion annually in law enforcement involvement, healthcare costs, lost productivity and wages, and legal costs and court fees.
According to Safe Horizon, America’s largest organization helping victims of crime and domestic violence, 1 out of every 4 women will experience domestic violence at some point in her lifetime. It’s important to note that victims are not always women; men are the victims of 4 million domestic assaults each year.
What is HopeLine®?
Seeing a need, Verizon Wireless established HopeLine® in 2001 as a way to support victims of domestic violence. Since its inception, Verizon has collected over 10.8 million phones nationwide, given over $21 million in cash grants to domestic violence organizations, and donated over 180,000 phones to victims and survivors to help break the cycle of violence.
How Can You Participate?
To participate, you can donate your unused phone and accessories in any condition, from any provider, by dropping it off at a Verizon Wireless store, by mailing it in, or by hosting a HopeLine® phone drive. Complete instructions on preparing and donating your phone can be found here, including a postage paid mailing label, as well as instructions on hosting your own HopeLine® phone drive. It couldn’t be simpler.
I Donated, Now What?
If Verizon receives a reusable phone, they will refurbish the device, which includes removing any existing data. Phones that are too damaged or unable to be repaired are responsibly recycled, keeping them out of landfills. Restored phones are distributed through the HopeLine® program. Survivors receive phones loaded with 3,000 anytime minutes and include Verizon Wireless nationwide coverage, call forwarding, call waiting, caller ID, basic voice mail, as well as texting capability.
Here in the United States, twenty people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner. Everyone matters and everyone deserves a life free of fear and violence. You can help make that happen. To learn more about the HopeLine® program and how you can get involved, visit the Verizon Wireless HopeLine website.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.