RELEASE: Bill to Expand Domestic Violence Services Advances

AB 689 Will Modernize Hotline Services to Include Text and Chat

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Legislation to expand domestic violence services, authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, has passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee with unanimous bipartisan support. AB 689 will allow for survivors of domestic violence to seek help via text and other computer-based technologies.

“We have seen a horrific rise in domestic violence throughout the course of the pandemic,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). “Now more than ever, domestic violence service providers need every available tool to help vulnerable Californians experiencing violence in the home.”

The Covid-19 Pandemic has led to a disturbing rise in domestic violence. In Sacramento, the Prosecutors Office has reported a 39% increase in police activity related to domestic violence over the last year.

Currently, domestic violence centers are hampered by a limited definition for phone-based hotlines in California law. Because of this, domestic violence centers are not eligible for state funding for other types of hotline services, such as text or chatlines. 

By modernizing domestic violence shelter requirements to include the option of other technological platforms, AB 689 allows for domestic violence centers to be better equipped to help more survivors of domestic violence.

This bill is co-authored by Assemblymembers Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach), Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), Luz Rivas (D-Arleta), Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta) and Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa).

AB 689 will be heard later in May for a vote on the Assembly floor.

“When survivors are ready to reach out for assistance or information it is vital that they have multiple options for doing so,” said AB 689 Sponsor Beth Hassett, CEO of WEAVE. “Expanding the crisis line service to include texting or live chat gives them more doors for entry into lifesaving services and support.”

“Laura's House has already implemented a secure chat line platform with secured funding through the State Prevention Funding grant which has proven to be effective as this is the most common mode of communication with our youth and young adult population. The modernized California code to ensure funding and reporting is vital in our ability to provide this improved method of safe contact to assist more victims as we move to a more technology-based society overall,” said Margaret Bayston, CEO and Executive Director of Laura’s House.

“Survivors of domestic violence are often isolated and prevented from reaching out for help,” said Krista Niemczyk, Public Policy Director at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. “That’s why chat and text-based hotlines are crucial. They allow survivors to connect with advocates when they cannot safely call a hotline. We are proud to support AB 689 to fund these pathways to safety planning and healing.”

“Individuals experiencing domestic violence may not be able to safely reach out for help through traditional platforms.  Expanding access points to include chat and text-based options are key to breaking down barriers to survivor safety and increasing access to vital services,” said Maricela Rios-Faust, CEO of Human Options.

"Initially because of reports in the media of the escalation of IPV incidents both in frequency and severity increased during COVID-19 lockdown orders, we urged Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris an 800 text hotline similar to ones established in other states. However after the Assemblywoman convened a meeting with the various organizations working in this space, it was obvious that CA needs are different. We fully support AB 689 and are thankful for the leadership of Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris in addressing the urgent needs of victims of Intimate Partner Violence," said Rima Nashashibi, Founder and President, Global Hope 365.