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LawHelpNY Provides Domestic Violence Information Via Text

LawHelpNY, the free, statewide resource for people facing civil legal issues, has launched a new text messaging campaign aimed at informing immigrant victims of domestic violence about their rights to shelter, healthcare and free legal services. LawHelpNY.org is part of the national LawHelp.org network of nonprofit legal information portals that empower individuals to help themselves.

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 and a nonprofit leader in increasing access to justice for the disadvantaged through technology.

This new SMS campaign, through the use of text messages provided in English and Spanish, will guide immigrant victims of domestic violence to emergency hotlines, shelters, local free legal assistance, and emergency health and medical care.

This will allow cell phone users to receive referral information without the need for a data plan, and will allow cell phone users with a data plan to access legal information directly from their phone. This pilot program focuses on three New York counties, The Bronx, Orange and Suffolk counties. Outreach about the plan will focus on bi-lingual programs, health services, Head Start Centers and other community and social services providing immigrant support. The main message of the campaign is “No one has the right to abuse you, even if you are undocumented.”  To get help, text SAFE to 877877. For help in Spanish, text SEGURA a 877877.

“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.

LawHelpNY.org was launched in 2001 and now serves more than 350,000 visitors a year. LawHelp.org was redesigned with support from the Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiative Grant program.

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