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Nationwide emergency alert creates concerns for domestic violence survivors

Violence Free Colorado recommends turning secondary phone completely off during alert Wednesday
Cell phone
Posted at 10:20 PM, Oct 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-04 14:14:18-04

DENVER — Coloradans will receive an important test alert from the federal government at 12:20 p.m. MST Wednesday, which will be sent out across radios, televisions, and cell phones. However, the blaring alarm that will sound from the phones has domestic violence experts concerned for people living with abusive partners.

Violence Free Colorado is a membership organization that consists of community partners and local domestic violence organizations across the state working to end domestic violence.

“Tomorrow, the nationwide alert is scheduled to happen at approximately 12:20 p.m. MST. There's kind of a 30-minute window as I understand on that, so it's important to be aware of that. That's an approximate time," said Hannah Colter, the community impact specialist for Violence Free Colorado. “It particularly creates concern for domestic violence survivors who might have a secondary device that they use for their safety, to access resources or supports or any needed connections that they might have. If it would unexpectedly make a sound or vibration or light up due to this alert, it could make their abusive partner aware of the existence or location of the device.”

Why you should expect a blaring phone alert Wednesday

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Colter said many domestic violence survivors will use a second phone for a variety of reasons, including recording or tracking their experience in order to provide police with future evidence, setting up appointments or reaching out to connections to prevent the isolation that comes with domestic violence,.

“If an abusive partner finds this phone, that could be very vital to a person's safety plan. It could lead to [the abusive partner] escalating their abusive behaviors or retaliating, or that [phone] no longer being an option for the survivor," Colter said. “If possible, the best course of action is to turn the phone off well in advance of the alert going out.”

Colter said turning off the secondary phone should be done well before 12:20 p.m. in case the alert is not sent out at that precise time.

“It's definitely an important time for people to know about," said Colter. "And also, I think, maybe helps other folks who are not as aware of the concern that it creates for the ongoing safety planning that people have to do to keep themselves safe.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, help is available through Violence Free Colorado or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

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