Emergency cell phones to aid abuse victims
by Laura Gaddy
Oct 07, 2013 | 4908 views |  0 comments | 74 74 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OXFORD — A local branch of the phone- and Internet-service provider EarthLink on Monday donated about 180 mobile phones to an area advocacy organization that helps victims of domestic abuse.

The cell phones were collected by 2nd Chance, an organization that assists victims and is conducting a phone drive through the month of October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 2nd Chance will give the newer phones to victims of domestic violence and recycle older phones to raise money, said Susan Shipman, executive director of the organization.

“Not everybody has a cell phone and domestic violence victims are particularly in need of cell phones,” Shipman said. “They need to be able to call 911.”

All a cell phone needs to dial 911 is a simple battery charge, Shipman said. The devices don’t have to have monthly plans to make the emergency call and that enables the organization to help victims at no cost.

Almost 90 percent of domestic violence victims are women and they are likely to return to their abusers between five and seven times before they leave abusive situations, Shipman said.

The phones are critical tools for victims whether or not they already have their own phones, said Trace Fleming-Smith, lead advocate for 2nd Chance.

“What happens if your perpetrator takes your phone from you or has your phone turned off?” Fleming-Smith said.

Monday’s donation might not have happened if Piedmont police Sgt. Carolyn Durham hadn’t posted a message on Facebook last week to announce that the department will serve as a location where people can donate phones for the drive this month. One of Durham’s Facebook friends, Jennifer Cofield, an EarthLink employee, spotted the post, asked her EarthLink supervisor whether the company could help, and within a week, the company came forward with the donation.

“In the past EarthLink has stepped up and helped with other organizations,” Cofield said. “I know we had the resources to do it, so I just thought it would be a great endeavor.”

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.
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