BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) – People in Benton can now get help in emergencies through sending a text message, and advocates say this can help people who are experiencing domestic violence.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and in honor of that, the Benton Police Department wants to help solve domestic violence by allowing victims to text in emergency situations.
Michelle Harper with Dorcas House said this program can really help give victims a voice when their abusers are with them.
"In the middle of that horrific experience, they're not in a position to make a phone call," Harper said. "If they could discretely just text off that they need help and what they're going through...life changing."
Harper said sending a text could potentially encourage more victims to get help.
“We want to encourage women to speak up for themselves, stand up for themselves and sometimes that can't be, in a situation like that, a phone call," Harper said.
On average 20 people are physically abused by a partner every minute, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies say that every nine seconds a woman is assaulted in America and that up 10 million children witness domestic violence annually.
The Benton Police Department also allows victims to get help through an app by sending in a tip, but some say an app and texting could still potentially be dangerous in certain situations.
Angela McGraw of Women and Children First said sometimes an abuser may be secretly tracking a victim's phone.
"I just know that there's a lot of perpetrators who put things on our phones as a way of having control," McGraw said.
McGraw said it's important for victims to be aware of protecting their mobile devices to ensure they are not being stalked.
"I think that if it can be used to where it's hidden, away from the perpetrator, I think that's a good thing," she said.
“I’ve had my own experience with domestic violence and in that situation, if I had had the opportunity to text off in the heat of the moment, that could’ve saved me in some ways,” Harper said.
If you or anyone you know may be in an abusive relationship, please do not hesitate to call and get help. If you live in Benton, you can call the Benton Police Department or the Saline County Safe Haven at 501-315-SAFE (7233).
You can also contact the Benton Police Department anonymously at 501-315-TIPS or text to CRIMES (274637) with the keyword BNPD, or via the official Benton Police Department app found on iTunes and Google Play.