Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has announced the launch of a new dedicated text line for victims. This line will provide victims with direct access to a victim witness advocate via text message. The line provides the opportunity for victims in non-emergency situations to have live interaction with an advocate in the District Attorney’s Office without having to say a word. This is a valuable tool both for individuals who may feel safer utilizing text and for young people who often prefer text to phone call. Recognizing that many victims are reaching out with questions regarding personal matters, this line provides a person-to-person connection, which can help alleviate the stress of navigating the criminal justice system.
The announcement comes during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time designated to raising awareness of victims’ rights, protections and services.
“As we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis the needs of victims and vulnerable populations remain at the forefront of our work. This line, created specifically for victims or those worried about a friend, or loved one, will provide direct access to a victim witness advocate. The advocate in our office can give important information about how to apply for a restraining order, develop a safety plan or access other services. This new option, to send a text, which we have not had before, can be critical for victims who need information but may be unable to or feel unsafe calling on the phone,” said District Attorney Ryan.
With the launch of the dedicated line, victims can now reach an advocate during regular office hours (8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) via text message at 781-281-4066. The line is not monitored 24/7 and is NOT an emergency line.
Recognizing that the criminal justice system can be complicated, advocates monitoring this line will be able to help:
Guide those impacted by crime through the criminal justice system as the COVID-19 process continues to evolve;
Ensure that victims of crimes understand their rights;
Help victims of stalking and harassment file Harassment Prevention Orders;
Provide assistance to victims of domestic violence; and
Provide referrals to community resources and connect people to trained sexual assault and domestic violence advocates who can provide free and confidential services regarding safety, options and resources.
If individuals are in fear for their safety, they should call 911. If a victim is not in a position to be able to speak aloud about their emergency, text 911 is also available across the Commonwealth.
“Being able to text for help or information allows victims, sheltering in place with abusive partners, to silently reach out for support, validation, and resources without alerting their abusers. During these seriously constrained times with victims locked in and resources locked down, this text line can provide a vital portal of hope and connection,” Jacquelin Apsler, Executive Director of Domestic Violence Services Network, Inc.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Victim Witness Services Bureau is dedicated to ensuring that crime victims and witnesses are aware of their important entitlements and are committed to remaining available to the people of Middlesex County during this time. This line will serve new victims; victims in pending cases are encouraged to contact the victim witness advocate assigned to their case. This is not a confidential line and specific case information will not be shared via text.
Victims of domestic violence can access help 24/7 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) in more than 200 languages or online at https://www.thehotline.org/help/. Live chat services are also available.
Victims can also access SafeLink, Massachusetts’ statewide 24/7 toll-free domestic violence hotline and a resource for anyone affected by domestic or dating violence. The SafeLink toll-free number is (877) 785-2020. If you are hearing-impaired, please call the SafeLink TTY number at (877) 521-2601. Advocates are bilingual in English and Spanish and have access to a service that can provide translation in more than 130 languages.
Victims of sexual violence can access help 24/7 through RAINN Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE) in multiple languages or online at https://www.rainn.org/. Live chat services are also available.
Victims can also visit Jane Doe Inc. at janedoe.org/findhelp to locate the sexual assault/rape crisis center and domestic violence services near them.
Information about the bureau, victim’s rights and resources and additional services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can be found on the Middlesex District Attorney’s website by clicking here.
Members of the public can continue to contact the Middlesex District Attorney’s office using the main line 781-897-8300. Staff will be answering calls during regular business hours, Voicemails left on this line will be checked, and the call will be returned.