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The isolation created by COVID-19 affects all of us. But combined with the danger of domestic violence, it can be deadly. Victims at home with their abusers may not be able to reach out for help by calling 9-1-1. One lifesaving option may be texting 9-1-1 instead.

Texting 9-1-1 May Be Lifesaving Option for Domestic Violence Victims

Text, Text 911, Domestic Violence, Lifesaving

PHOENIX (May 6, 2020)—The isolation created by COVID-19 affects all of us. But combined with the danger of domestic violence, it can be deadly. Victims at home with their abusers may not be able to reach out for help by calling 9-1-1. One lifesaving option may be texting 9-1-1 instead. 

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), which coordinates the regional response to domestic violence and administers 9-1-1, is highlighting this important option through a new public service announcement (Spanish link here). 

“We stay home to stay healthy, but home is not always a safe place. Being separated from friends, family and neighbors takes a toll emotionally. Domestic violence victims especially may feel cut off from support systems,” says MAG Regional Council Chair Mark Mitchell, mayor of Tempe. “We want victims to know they are not alone, and that they can text 9-1-1 if they are unable to safely call.” 

One in four women and one in ten men are victims of violence or stalking by an intimate partner. In 2019, there were 95 fatalities related to domestic violence in the state of Arizona. 

“As of March 31, 2020, there have been 25 deaths related to intimate partner violence in Arizona,” said MAG Regional Domestic Violence Council Chair Steve Stahl, police chief for the City of Maricopa. “Not only do communities need to reduce deaths for COVID-19, we are working equally hard to decrease the number of people who die at the hands of their abusers. We need people to know we are here to help.” 

Domestic violence calls are among the most dangerous calls received by law enforcement. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego says promoting advocacy resources helps to protect both victims and first responders. 

“Domestic violence is its own ongoing health crisis. The more people are aware of the availability of this important service, the better we can respond to highly dangerous situations and keep both victims and first responders safe.” 

Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers, vice chair of the MAG Regional Council, notes that while voice calls are always best, text to 9-1-1 should be used any time a voice call is dangerous or impossible. 

“This technology helps in a wide variety of scenarios, such as domestic violence, active shooter, or home invasions. It is also being incredibly helpful for those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability,” said Weiers. 

The :15 second public service announcement can be broadcast or used on social media. The PSA includes the four speakers above. 

Text to 9-1-1 became live in Maricopa County in April 2018, and is currently being rolled out in other areas of the state. 

For a list of domestic violence resources, go to azmag.gov/dv

Published May 5, 2020

About MAG

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

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