Houston Public Media

UH Moment: ‘1-800-SAFE’

Your browser doesn’t support HTML5 audio

A new social media movement that began at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work aims to connect domestic violence victims to critical assistance through an easily accessible product.

Clinical assistant professor Donna Amtsberg started the hashtag #1800SAFE to urge makers of feminine hygiene products to print the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline on all feminine hygiene products. 

“Women are the most vulnerable to domestic violence during their child-bearing years, which makes up a large part of her life,” Amtsberg said. “If we can get the National Domestic Violence Hotline number on these products, women will have access to that help very readily– in their purses, in their desk drawers at work, in restrooms. The number would be right there at a time when she needs it the most.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Amtsberg is taking to Twitter to publicize information about domestic violence, ending each tweet with the hashtag #1800SAFE.

Amtsberg, a licensed clinical social worker in private practice, says some estimates indicate a woman is abused every nine seconds. Last year, 132 women were killed by their abusers in Texas. She says part of the challenge is raising awareness among domestic violence victims and their supporters regarding available resources, particularly the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Donna Amsteberg

“This is one of the largest public health issues that we have,” she said. “For most of the clientele any of us work with, this has been a part of their life since childhood, and if they’ve made it through childhood without that exposure they’ll likely encounter it in adulthood.”

The hashtag movement began in the fall, and now has the assistance of social media savvy students, who have taken this on as a project. While local domestic violence counselors and agencies are aware of Amtsberg’s effort, she is hopeful that the movement spreads to national organizations and ultimately to the companies that manufacture feminine hygiene products. 

I ultimately would like everyone to be aware of this movement until awareness reaching companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble, the primary manufacturers of these products, in hopes that they realize what a benefit it would be to have that number that accessible,” she said. “The wrapper is advertisement real estate that’s not being used, so why not use it to save women’s lives?”