One of the biggest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a worldwide increase in domestic violence. That’s why the Met Council Family Violence Services program has launched a new tool, a texting service, to help domestic violence survivors safely contact Met Council master-level social workers 18 hours a day. Met Council runs America’s largest Jewish domestic violence program. They recognized that during this pandemic and, due to subsequent stay-at-home orders, a bad situation has been made worse for many. Many survivors now have critically fewer routes to safety. Survivors of all forms of abuse – be it physical, financial, verbal, or any other form of domestic abuse or trafficking – can now text 917-540-0225 to receive 100 percent free and confidential services and support from 8:00 a.m. to midnight.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn, we are sadly seeing an unfortunate rise in domestic violence in New York City, including within Jewish and frum communities,” said David G. Greenfield, the CEO of Met Council. “We believe this new texting tool will give survivors a safe and reliable pathway to the vital resources our team is uniquely trained to provide and facilitate.”
Through the Family Justice Centers run by the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic Violence and Gender-Based Violence, Met Council receives referrals involving clients of all backgrounds, races, genders, and sexual orientations. However, as the sole Jewish social services organization working at the city’s Family Justice Centers, most clients from the community have expressed deep relief in knowing that there is someone who understands their culture and who can help them obtain safety.
“We want the community to know that we’re here for them, and our team will work tirelessly to help survivors get the assistance they need,” said Nechama Bakst, the senior director of Met Council’s Family Violence Services program. “We want every person who is experiencing any form of violence to know that you are not alone. We have the expertise and resources to help you work towards the safety and security you deserve.”
Met Council has taken a leading role in New York to help ensure that New Yorkers have safe options should they find themselves in an intimate partner violence situation. With the COVID-19 pandemic and high unemployment, more and more clients are at home with their abusive partner for longer periods of time. For these survivors, talking on the phone could potentially put them at increased risk of harm. To address this issue, the program has launched a secure texting platform that allows clients to securely text the number (917-540-0225) to connect to highly qualified, master’s level clinicians with expertise in helping clients establish safety in a discrete manner.
Met Council’s Family Violence Services program recognizes that many survivors have children and are unable to contact our helpline during traditional hours because they are focused on schooling, childcare, or are therefore unable to easily make a private phone call. In order to give survivors more flexibility to reach out for help, the program has expanded its call-in helpline (212-453-9592) to be open from 8:00 a.m. to midnight, Sunday through Thursday, and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Fridays.