Kuster Fights To Protect Domestic Violence Survivors from Being Trapped in Phone Plans with Abusers
Washington, May 24, 2022
Tags: Ending Sexual Violence
**Earlier this year, Rep. Kuster introduced the Safe Connections Act, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Tim Walberg (R-MI)**
Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, questioned communications safety experts during a legislative hearing in the Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee entitled, “Strengthening our Communications Networks: Legislation to Connect and Protect.” Kuster’s line of questioning focused on her bipartisan legislation, the Safe Connections Act, which would help survivors of domestic violence and other crimes cut ties with their abusers and separate from shared wireless service plans, which can be exploited to monitor, stalk, or control victims.
“Survivors of domestic violence face countless challenges as they move forward to rebuild their lives, and the process of separating their phone lines from a wireless plan controlled by their abusers is a critical but often overlooked step,” said Rep. Kuster. “I was proud to introduce the Safe Connections Act, which provides a clear template for survivors to work with their phone carriers to exit from a shared plan and, where applicable, enroll in the Lifeline Program to help cover phone expenses as they get their finances in order. This bill is a commonsense solution that will make a significant difference for survivors, and I thank the witnesses for joining today’s Subcommittee hearing. I look forward to advancing this bill to implement these critical measures to ensure the safety of survivors and help them quickly cut ties with their abusers. I will continue working to prevent domestic and sexual violence and supporting survivors.”
Survivors of crimes like domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual assault, and human trafficking can face challenges when establishing independence from an abuser. When a survivor remains stuck on a family or shared wireless phone plan, their abusers can use the plan to limit their access to the communications tools essential to maintaining connections with family, social safety networks, employers, and support services. Survivors with limited resources and incomes are often unaware that they may qualify for participation in the Lifeline Program, which provides a discount phone service for eligible consumers. The Safe Connections Act seeks to rectify these challenges and help survivors protect themselves by:
Representative Kuster is a founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, which works to raise awareness and propose solutions to the challenges posed by sexual assault and violence. Rep. Kuster co-chairs the Task Force alongside Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA), Dave Joyce (R-OH), and John Katko (R-NY). The Bipartisan Task Force's areas of focus include K-12 education, campus sexual violence, the rape kit backlog, military sexual trauma, improved data and collection, online harassment, and law enforcement training.