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Changes to FCC regulations could help domestic violence survivors

According to NBC News, the FCC is expected to pass regulations that will make phone companies ease up on some policies, helping survivors looking to escape.

DENVER — For some, escaping a domestic violence situation might soon be a little easier.

According to NBC News, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to pass new regulations that will make phone companies ease up on some policies that could help survivors looking to escape violent situations. On Wednesday, the FCC will meet to review final rules related to the Safe Connections Act.

The potential changes could make phone companies: 

  • Remove domestic violence survivors from family billing plans within two business days upon request
  • Provide low-cost emergency phone replacements for domestic violence victims
  • Hide call and text logs to domestic violence hotlines and shelters

9NEWS spoke to Natasha Adler, director of survivor services and data management for SafeHouse Denver, about the potential changes.

What does SafeHouse do?

Adler: SafeHouse Denver is a domestic violence nonprofit. We’ve been around 45-46 years, and we provide both residential and nonresidential services to survivors of all types of domestic violence, both current or past. So we have our emergency shelter, we have counseling and an advocacy center, 24-hour crisis line, and we also do quite a bit of community education.

When you hear about these potential changes what is your initial reaction?

Adler: Exciting and also long overdue, right? Technology is something in this field we’re always trying to catch up on with cyberstalking and all of the things that change so frequently that it’s kind of about time. Yeah, it’s exciting.

What kind of impact does hiding or cloaking calls and texts to shelters and hotlines have?

Adler: Huge impact. Not only do survivors face barriers to technology but maybe to transportation. So far those survivors who are stuck at home with an abuser or unable to travel to physically get to us, that gives them access to be able to connect with us in a safe way, and once they connect with us, that could mean safety planning that could mean leaving their situation. That could mean giving them support and resources for their children. I mean it increases the accessibility for survivors on a whole new level. 

What about being able to be removed from a billing plan or receiving a low-cost emergency phone? 

Adler: Not only again being able to access resources but the stalking concerns are able to be somewhat mitigated. So cyberstalking is a huge thing we’re seeing, and abusers are able to put trackers on phones, they’re able to look through phone records and say, 'Hey this is where you were last week' and use that as something to weaponize with their partner.

They can also use it to track and monitor. So to be able to have that separation, to be able to get that financial independence, that information safety piece, and then also to remove some of those stalking and tracking weapons that abusers have can be huge for safety.

We have so many survivors who – just the access to a phone opens up so many doors. Especially a lot of our transient folks, we have a lot of high domestic violence numbers in our transient population being able to give them that access is, it’s huge.

More 9NEWS stories by Jaleesa Irizarry:



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