Back in March, as the reality of the lockdown set in, a caller to the Shalom Task Force (STF) hotline shared her fears about being trapped with her husband. After safety planning with her, we encouraged her to call back. She explained that she didn’t know if she could, in the presence of her abusive partner. Throughout the past several months, the increase of family abuse has surfaced as the pandemic within the pandemic. Leaving some more vulnerable than ever, and those who were unsafe calling a hotline were finding alternate ways to reach out for help. “I was presenting on a webinar with a panel of other professionals, when one participant used the private chat feature to reach out to me for help,” recounts Dr. Shoshannah Frydman, Executive Director of Shalom Task Force. “This highlighted the need to offer expanded means to reach out.”
Shalom Task Force is excited to announce a new expansion to its national domestic abuse hotline. You can now Live Chat, text, or WhatsApp Shalom Task Force for support, Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can Live Chat by visiting shalomtaskforce.org or by sending a text/WhatsApp message to 888-883-2323. This new service complements Shalom Task Force’s traditional telephone call-in service, which continues to operate by calling 888-883-2323 or 718-337-3700 at the following times: Mon/Wed 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tues/Thurs 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Fri/Sun 9 a.m. to 12 noon.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Shalom Task Force’s call volume doubled. “Once states began to lift stay-at-home orders, we saw a huge surge in calls,” said Meira Zack Gorbaty, Director of Hotline Services. “Not only did our call volume increase, but we have seen an increase in the severity of abuse experienced by callers. Additionally, more survivors have reached out directly seeking support and guidance, as opposed to friends and family calling on their behalf.”
This service expands community members’ options. Each survivor’s story is unique. One person may find it easier and safer to connect by telephone if she suspects her abuser is monitoring her text messages. For another, using Live Chat may be safer because her abuser is in proximity, or simply because it feels too scary to share what she is experiencing out loud. To learn more about safely reaching out using different forms of technology, please visit www.techsafetyapp.org.