FCC proposals require phone companies to help domestic violence survivors

Carriers would have to split family lines and hide calls to hotlines.

SimonSkafar via Getty Images

Now that the Safe Connections Act (SCA) has become law, the Federal Communications Commission is taking steps to help domestic violence survivors leave their partners' phone plans. The agency has proposed rules that would require carriers separate the line for a survivor within two business days of a request. Another proposal would also have carriers hide contact with abuse hotlines from consumer-facing call and text logs.

The FCC also hopes to use the Lifeline or Affordable Connectivity Program to support survivors enduring financial hardships for up to six months. Separately, providers are teaming with the National Domestic Violence Hotline to ensure survivors leaving a family plan will get in touch with someone who can offer support from experts on abuse.

The proposals are entering a public comment phase and may be modified when they take effect as required by the SCA. As they are, though, the measures theoretically provide survivors additional safety when leaving abusive relationships. They can quickly exit a plan managed by an abuser, and will be less vulnerable if they call a support line or need financial aid to stay connected. That, in turn, may help them reclaim independence while staying in touch with supportive friends and family members.

If you are experiencing domestic violence and similar abuse, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by phone at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or by texting "START" to 88788.