SAFEline lets abuse survivors text for help


AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s a sobering statistic: 1 in 3 teenagers experience some form of relationship abuse and two-thirds of them never tell anyone. A resource that started in Austin is working to change that, and it’s already seen results in the four months it’s been online.

SAFE Austin, a local group dedicated to helping survivors and ending sexual and domestic abuse, launched SAFEline. It’s a “24 hour service that we provide crisis intervention over the phone and internet, and now we can provide through texting services,” says SAFEline advocate Sarah Shannon-Wildt. Texting SAFEline is relatively new, kicking off in October 2017. Since then, SAFE Austin says the response has been huge. The group says the average length of the online chats on its website and texts are around 1 hour — that’s three times longer than phone calls to the abuse hotline.

SAFE Austin says teenagers are more comfortable texting for help than actually calling for help. Either way, the message is the same: “We are here to be able to help survivors, and that we want folks to be able to reach out to us in whatever capacity that they feel is the safest for them,” Shannon-Wildt says. She added that survivors who are deaf are also using the new option.

Since the group implemented texting as an option for help, it’s received texts from survivors all over the country asking for help and has successfully placed those survivors in shelters away from their abusers. If you need help, call 512-267-SAFE (7233), chat online with someone who can help, or if you’d rather text, use this number: 737-888-7233.

The Travis County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to recognize February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

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