TINA, a friend in need for abused women

WAOPETALING JAYA: More and more women who suffer violence at the hands of their spouses, family members or significant others are reaching out for help through their new “friend”, TINA.

TINA, which stands for Think I Need Aid, is a text-based aid service developed by the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) for women who are suffering any form of abuse.

“We launched TINA three years ago because we found that some victims of abuse are more comfortable texting than calling our hotline,” WAO advocacy manager Yu Ren Chung told FMT.

Yu said this could be due to factors such as fear, shame or a preference to text rather than talk.

“What happens is that someone who has been abused can just text TINA, and from there we will extend them support. Basically, we’ll provide information on what they can do and how we can help.”

Yu said this included offering the victims temporary shelter with WAO, counselling as well as case management and support.

From there, he said, it would be up to the victims to decide what they wanted to do next.

Yu said TINA was available to all women who were victims of gender-based violence.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re being abused by your spouse or boyfriend or acquaintance, you can always reach out to TINA. It’s not limited to housewives.

“As long as you are being physically, psychologically or emotionally abused, TINA can help you.”

What started as a five-days-a-week, office hours-only service has now become available 24 hours a day due to the demand for TINA’s help.

Yu said in the first quarter of 2016, TINA helped an average of 20 women per month. This increased to an average of 130 a month in the first quarter of 2017, signalling a worrying trend of increasing violence.

He said most of these women were victims of domestic abuse.

“To all women out there, please do not hesitate to SMS or WhatsApp TINA at 018 988 8058, or WAO at at 03 7956 3488,” he said, adding that TINA could converse in both English and Malay.

Yu also urged members of the public to contact WAO if they knew of someone who was being abused.

Recently, Astro Awani reported that according to police statistics, a total of 15,617 domestic violence cases had been reported between 2014 and December 2016.

Earlier this week, the government tabled the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2011 allowing victims and their families to seek immediate protection by the authorities.

The amendment seeks to strengthen the Interim Protection Order and Emergency Protection Order, allowing social welfare officers at every district level to protect victims from alleged abusers.