NEW YORK, NY — When Marilyn Roseberry saw signs of violence in the man she was dating, the Northern New Jersey woman grew fearful and decided to end the relationship. Her suitor grew increasingly angry and would not let the relationship go. That anger culminated in an early morning visit to Marilyn's home on New Year's Day 1997 that left Marilyn hospitalized with a critical skull fracture, and the man with a six-year sentence to New Jersey state prison. Marilyn has recovered from her injuries, but lives in constant fear of her attacker's pending parole.
Today, at the "first-ever" Bell Atlantic Mobile Domestic Violence Leadership Conference, Marilyn shared her story and thanked the company for creating a program that provides domestic violence victims with wireless phones. When her attacker is released from prison, Marilyn will join hundreds of other women who leave home each day with a Bell Atlantic Mobile phone specially-programmed to dial 9-1-1 at the touch of a button.
Victim advocates, prosecutors and shelter counselors from throughout the New York/New Jersey metro area joined Bell Atlantic Mobile today to talk about the success of the program and to explore new ways to harness the power of wireless technology on behalf of victims. The conference is one of a number of activities the company has planned for October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Keynote remarks were delivered by Jeanine Pirro, District Attorney of Westchester County, New York, and a widely recognized expert in domestic violence law enforcement.
"In the fight against domestic violence, a wireless phone often is a battered woman's most powerful weapon against her attacker," Pirro said. "With a wireless phone in hand, a victim of domestic violence can go to work, take her children to school and shop for groceries with the knowledge that she can summon help instantly. These are ordinary, everyday activities. But for women who are paralyzed by the constant threat of attack, a wireless phone is a lifeline."
Today, Bell Atlantic Mobile also introduced * HOPE, a quick-dial number that will connect the company's customers, on any service plan, directly to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The call is free of charge and will refer victims, and those concerned about victims, to local women's advocacy groups.
In addition, the company will donate wireless phones to district attorneys' offices in Manhattan and Westchester County. The phones will be distributed to those victims at the greatest risk of repeated violence. And, in Albany, the company is donating wireless phones to victims through the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Bell Atlantic Mobile employees in Orangeburg, NY, and Morristown, NJ, also will be involved this month as they collect toiletries and children's items for donation to local women's shelters.
"Domestic violence is an epidemic that impacts our communities, our employees and our customers," said Charles Hand, president of Bell Atlantic Mobile's New York/New Jersey metro region. "Today's conference gives us the opportunity to listen to experts who know firsthand how wireless technology can make a difference. What we've learned will help us expand our program of education, prevention and protection."
Bell Atlantic Mobile has supported victims of domestic violence since 1995 through its "Wireless at Work" community service program. The company has donated more than 1,500 wireless phones to victims through local prosecutors' offices. Also, HopeLineâ, a wireless voice mail service, is being used at hundreds of battered women's shelters to help victims communicate with prospective employers and landlords.
Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East, covering 112,000 square miles, and the largest chain of retail outlets devoted exclusively to wireless voice, data and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has 5.7 million customers and 7,000 employees from Maine to Georgia and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. Bell Atlantic Mobile's parent is one of the world's largest wireless communications companies, with domestic operations in 25 states and international investments in Mexico, Europe and the Pacific Rim. For more information on Bell Atlantic global operations visit: www.bellatlantic.com/worldwide.