"When is a cell phone more than a cell phone? When it enables a survivor of domestic or dating abuse to reclaim her life.

Close to 2,000 refurbished cell phones are in the hands of formerly vulnerable women and men thanks to a partnership launched in 2008 between Rutgers and Verizon Wireless.

The used phones, dropped off in bins placed strategically on the university’s major campuses in New Brunswick, Camden and Newark, have been wiped free of existing numbers and loaded with 3,000 minutes of nationwide calling or texting.


One program organizer calls the project “an anonymous act of kindness.”

“We know there is a great need for these phones after a woman leaves her abuser,” says Melanie Hoffman of Rutgers’ Center on Violence against Women and Children (VAWC), which coordinates the campus effort. “The ability to have a ‘clean’ phone gives her back a sense of empowerment and a sense of security.”

Men are also subject to domestic violence. A 2010 survey by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control found that more than 5 million men had experienced abuse at the hands of their wives or girlfriends in the previous year."  To read the full article published in Rutgers Today, click here.