WAO introduces first SMS helpline for domestic abuse survivors

KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has introduced ‘TINA’, a new SMS helpline to reach out to victims who have survived domestic violence and women in crisis. 

TINA, which stands for ‘Think I Need Aid’ was launched as part of WAO’s national public education campaign on March 8 in conjunction with International Women’s Day.

WAO Executive Director Ivy Josiah in a statement here today said TINA is an extension of WAO’s service and takes the form of a ‘virtual friend’ of WAO.

“At the early phase of an abusive relationship, victim survivors may not be ready to accept that they are victims of abuse.

“The thought of calling a helpline may be too much, besides SMS is becoming so much a part of our daily communications. TINA is unique as it is the first of its kind in Malaysia,” she said, adding TINA SMS helpline can be reached at 018-988 8058.

Meanwhile, WAO advocacy officer Sally Wangsawijaya said SMSes would provide a veil of anonymity for survivors who may find ‘calling a helpline’ as a barrier.

“Speaking on the phone may also be dangerous, especially if the perpetrator is close enough to hear. TINA will be approachable and appeal to the younger generation who prefers an informal chat with a friend rather than speaking to a counsellor or social worker.

“TINA will refer callers to WAO’s social workers when they are ready,” said Wangsawijaya.

In 2013, nearly 2,000 women had reached out to WAO by telephone for counselling.

WAO had also sheltered 153 women, and conducted 125 face-to-face counselling last year.

Since 1982, WAO has assisted victim survivors of domestic violence through its shelter services, counselling and advocacy work on women’s rights.

WAO is a non-profit organisation in Malaysia that provides counselling and shelter for abused women and their children. — Bernama

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