A digital resource for people facing civil legal issues has launched a new text-messaging campaign to advise immigrant victims of domestic violence about their rights and services available to them.
LawHelpNY.org is an online source of free legal aid referrals, know-your-rights information and a variety of self-help tools. It is maintained by the New York LawHelp Consortium, a collaboration of 12 legal aid and bar associations, including the City Bar Justice Center and Pro Bono Net, the site developer.
The new campaign, using text messages in both English and Spanish, is designed to guide immigrant victims to emergency hotlines, shelters, local free legal assistance and emergency health and medical care.
Under a pilot program in the Bronx and Orange and Suffolk counties, cellphone users can obtain referral information, without a data plan. For help in English, users text to the address “877877″ and type “SAFE” in the message line for an immediate response. For help in Spanish, users type 877877 in the address field and “SEGURA” as the message.
“With this innovative texting program, we hope domestic violence victims will be safer while asking for help via the privacy of a mobile phone, since the text can be deleted and victims can quickly contact a hotline or free legal service while on the go,” said Leah Margulies, project director of LawHelpNY.