More and more domestic violence survivors are seeking help through WhatsApp, leading to a twofold increase in Women’s Aid Organisation’s (WAO) WhatsApp/SMS helpline usage in 2017, according to its recently published Annual Report 2017.
In 2017, WAO gave 1,698 consultations through its WhatsApp/SMS helpline ‘TINA’, compared to 699 consultation in the previous year.
“Many domestic violence survivors feel more comfortable reaching out through WhatsApp. Texting can be less intimidating than speaking over the phone, thus reducing barriers for survivors to seek support,” says Charlene Murray, Case Manager of WAO.
“This trend is consistent with data showing that Malaysians are one of the most avid WhatsApp users globally. By understanding how domestic violence survivors communicate, we can be more strategic in reaching out to them,” adds Charlene.
WAO launched ‘TINA’, which stands for ‘Think I Need Aid’, in 2014. Through TINA, domestic violence survivors can get information about their rights and options. TINA is also an entry point to access WAO’s services such as shelter and social work.
The acronym ‘TINA’ was the brainchild of ad agency, TBWA Kuala Lumpur.
In 2017, artist Chan Wen Li brought TINA to life as an illustrated character. TINA made her debut in a mural at the Masjid Jamek LRT station, and subsequently as a character in WAO’s poetry book, ‘Tina’s Journey’.
“The idea was to visualise TINA as a relatable person, whom survivors can talk to,” explains Charlene.
In addition to TINA, domestic violence survivors can also contact the WAO Hotline. In 2017, the WAO Hotline received 2,078 calls, an increase from 1,640 calls in 2016.
“More domestic violence survivors are coming forward for support. Usage of our Hotline and TINA services are at an all time high. This shows that more women are aware of their rights and are choosing to break the silence,” says Charlene.
“WAO has been going on-ground to raise awareness about domestic violence. In 2017, we reached over 3,000 people in-person, through talks and mobile information booths.”
The number of domestic violence cases reported to the police has also been rising steadily since 2010. In 2016, there was 5,796 reported cases of domestic violence, compared to 3,173 cases in 2010.
“Strong legal protection also encourages survivors to speak up. WAO and women’s groups worked with the government to improve protection for survivors, resulting in the amendments to the Domestic Violence Act in 2017,” adds Charlene.
Domestic violence survivors can text TINA at 018 988 8058 or call the WAO Hotline at 03 7956 3488 to learn about their rights.
For more information about WAO’s services and advocacy, download WAO’s 2017 Annual Report at bit.ly/waoreport.