AUSTIN, Texas — Uber is taking a stance against domestic violence and teaming up with the Texas Council on Family Violence to provide free rides to domestic violence victims.

“Transportation should never be a barrier to seeking help for domestic violence,” said Chris Miller, Uber’s senior manager of public affairs.

Access to this service is critical, especially now. During the pandemic, multiple domestic violence organizations reported an uptick in calls and other communications from victims.

SAFE, a Central Texas nonprofit that helps survivors of violence and abuse, reported a 14% increase in calls, chats and texts to its 24/7 SAFELine from March 1, 2020, to February 28, 2021, compared to the same time frame the previous year.

“This is part of a larger commitment to combat gender-based violence,” Miller said. “This year, globally, will be donated over $2.5 million to combat gender-based and domestic violence, which is just been exacerbated, as a lot of people know, with the stay-at-home [orders] and COVID.”

The rides will be split among seven domestic violence programs in the state, including Asian Family Support Services of Austin. Each group will be set up with its own Uber account where staff and volunteers can send victims a voucher for a free ride or call the ride on their behalf.

“We will continue to work to encourage everyone in their community to be involved,” Miller said.

If you or someone you know need access to this program, visit tcfv.org or contact the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

*By Daranesha Herron, KVUE*