This is a formative evaluation of technology-based advocacy services for victims of crime at a community violence prevention and intervention program in Austin, Texas.
This project examined the formation and implementation of chat and text services on SAFEline, the 24/7 hotline service at SAFE Alliance in Austin, Texas. Data were collected to analyze service use and service user needs, and how services are provided. The evaluation found outcomes of services are both short-term and long-term and include increased safety, reduced isolation, and increased resource knowledge. Barriers to successful chat and text hotline interactions include Lack of comfort or access to the platform, perception that the service lacks warmth, and inaccessibility to needed services at the agency due to high demand for interpersonal violence services in the community. The evaluation advises that chat and text hotlines are vital to service availability and access for victims of intimate partner violence (IPV), child abuse and neglect (CAN), sexual assault, and human trafficking, and they extend the benefits of national chat, text, and phone hotlines. Chat, text, and phone hotlines provide an important role in community education by linking people to local supports for education and importantly, teach people how to access help. Technology-based advocacy can increase access to historically marginalized and hard-to-reach populations. Chat and text service user volume is sensitive to local, state, and national events.