CHARLESTON, W.Va. – 11/16/23 – On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as required by the Safe Connections Act passed last year, voted to approve rules that will help survivors of domestic violence escape abusive relationships more safely.
The change supports survivors by helping to shield their call privacy: cloaking call and text logs to domestic violence hotlines and shelters from consumer-facing call records.
Since abusers often monitor survivors to keep them isolated from help, the rules change means survivors can now contact domestic violence shelters and hotlines without being worried that the record that they reached out turns into a trigger for more abuse.
Joyce Yedlosky, a Team Coordinator with the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WVCADV), explained, “Victims are in more danger–and abuse can become more severe–when the abuser discovers the victim is planning to end the relationship. The change means survivors will soon be more empowered to connect with all the critical information and services they need in order to make a plan to leave safely.”
Additionally, the rules allow domestic violence victims to opt-out of family cell service plans without fee, penalty, or charge–lowering the barriers to leaving for domestic violence victims.
“DV victims can now safely opt-out. But there is a process,” said Raymie White, the Legal Services Coordinator for WVCADV. “Survivors will need to reach out to their local domestic violence shelters for a letter of certification.”
People experiencing domestic violence can find contact information for their local West Virginia domestic violence shelters on the WVCADV website.
Now that the FCC has made the change to the rules, the Coalition is currently evaluating next steps to continue ensuring the safety of survivors in West Virginia.