The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) announced a first-of-its-kind 24/7 sexual harassment counseling hotline.
The hotline, 1-844-Off-Limits (633-5464), will be staffed by counselors from the community advocacy organization Peace Over Violence, which has 45 years of experience counseling victims of sexual abuse in Los Angeles County. The hotline is a one-year pilot program.
Counselors who are trained to address issues related to sexual harassment on a transit system will be featured on the hotline. Peace Over Violence is the pre-eminent victim rights advocacy organization in L.A. County and has maintained a rape and battering hotline for the past 45 years of service.
“A victim of sexual harassment on a bus or train might have to encounter their harasser on a daily basis while traveling to work or school,” said Patty Giggans, executive director of Peace Over Violence. “We want victims to make reports and also have the resources they need to recover in a healthy way.”
Metro ramped up efforts to reduce sexual harassment on the bus and rail system in April 2015 with the “It’s Off Limits” campaign that encouraged victims and witnesses to contact police with reports of harassment. The campaign included advertisements posted on 2,200 buses and 400 train cars in addition to distributing tens of thousands of information cards throughout the transit system. The rate of sexual harassment has decreased from 22% to 15% since the inception of the campaign.
Metro has also implemented cell service in Red/Purple Line stations in downtown Los Angeles, increased video surveillance and monitoring of the transit system and added provisions to the Metro Code of Conduct to specifically prohibit many different types of harassment.
“No other transit agency in the world has a 24/7 sexual harassment victim hotline,” said Metro CEO Phillip Washington. “The establishment of this pilot program exemplifies Metro’s commitment to protecting our customers from this kind of abuse.”