T-Mobile has recently partnered with the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV) and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. The partnership will give domestic and gender-based violence survivors free mobile devices from the Un-Carrier.
The partnership will provide a total of 1,000 devices worth around $600,000. In addition to the free phone, survivors will also be given a discounted mobile network plan. These will be distributed via the five Family Justice Centers situated throughout the city.
According to ENDGBC Commissioner Cecile Noel:
“Survivors need us now more than ever in these extraordinary times. COVID-19 puts into sharp focus the vulnerabilities that many people in our city face every day, especially gender-based violence survivors; and it highlights the barriers and challenges that we know keep people from seeking help and finding safety.”
Even though domestic violence advocates made use of virtual services to connect with survivors, there is still a huge gap between those who do not have access to an electronic device and internet connection. And this has been quite a challenge for service providers.
“The struggle to stay connected with one another during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a hardship felt around the world, especially for victims of domestic violence. This new public-private partnership with T-Mobile will not only provide domestic violence victims a way to stay connected to friends, family, and 24/7 helplines, but will also offer peace of mind during stressful situations that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.” – Daniele Baierlein and Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle, co-executive directors of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.
It’s important to point out that while there has been a fewer number of domestic violence calls received by the NYPD in 2020, it is not because of fewer incidents compared to previous years. Rather, it is because of the added worries brought about by the pandemic, which caused the decrease.
According to advocates, victims were often forced to stay with their abusers. And with the worsening environment within a home, reporting the abuse to the police was a non-option for many victims.
To help address this, various organizations and FJCs made use of different ways victims could get help. One of which is a ‘safe chat’ service that allows survivors to connect through text. But since this also allowed abusers to virtually target victims, more cybersecurity protection steps needed to be taken. And this led to the city’s collaboration with Norton LifeLock. Through this partnership, survivors were given cybersecurity protection.
With T-Mobile stepping into the picture, advocates will be able to reach more survivors, particularly in need of remote services. They can use these devices for counseling sessions and legal consultations to help them with their situation.
T-Mobile’s executive vice president, Mike Katz, shares:
“At T-Mobile, we want to be a force for good in the communities we serve, and that means stepping up to be a part of amazing initiatives like this with ENDGBV and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC that get critical connectivity to those who need it the most. The COVID-19 pandemic helped shine a light on many societal gaps and challenges, and we have been ready to step up where we’re needed. This important effort will make a big difference for so many and we’re glad we can play a role in it.”
If you know of anyone who might be a survivor of domestic and gender-based violence, encourage them to call an FJC to be connected to services and get the protection they need.