On Wednesday, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Uber announced a program to offer free rides to help victims of domestic violence escape abuse.
There are reports of increases in domestic violence calls in some parts of the state while calls for safe shelter and abuse counseling are decreasing in many locations. There is growing concern that victims of abuse may not know that help and safe shelter are still available as social distancing measures are taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. Through this new program, free Uber rides will be directed to domestic violence shelters in areas of Florida that have seen the highest call volumes including Hillsborough, Orange and Pinellas Counties.
“Victims of domestic violence need to know that help is still available and there are people who care deeply about their health and safety. Victims do not have to stay isolated with their abusers. Domestic violence shelters remain open around the state, and through this new program with Uber, I am hopeful that we can connect more victims with the shelter and life-saving services they need to escape abuse and begin the healing process,” Moody said.
Stephanie Smith, Uber’s senior public policy manager, also weighed in on the new partnership.
“As the coronavirus continues to impact Florida communities, current safer-at-home guidelines may prove challenging for some of our most vulnerable citizens, including victims of domestic violence. That is why Uber is proud to work with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody in providing free rides to domestic violence shelters. We want to do our part to ensure that to those faced with limited, or no, transportation options have access to supportive spaces where they can remain safe through this public health crisis,” Smith
Last month, Moody issued an alert to inform victims of domestic violence that shelters remain open across the state and victims’ services are still available.
Anyone who is a victim of domestic violence can contact the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 500-1119—anyone in immediate danger should call local law enforcement by dialing 911. Many nonprofits are now offering telephone counseling and video sessions for victims who feel safe enough to utilize these services. Options may vary by organization.
In Uber’s previous announcement, they shared the creation of partnerships with domestic violence organizations and local governments in 35 cities across 16 countries to provide 50,000 free rides to shelters and safe spaces, and more than 45,000 free meals. This came at a time when many shelters and service providers were in urgent need of assistance. Now even more rides will be available to Floridians thanks to the program between Uber and Moody.