The YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee have announced a collaboration with security camera company Ring to provide 1,000 Ring video doorbells and security cameras to survivors of domestic violence.
Recipients of the devices will receive a free Basic Ring Protect Plan subscription for the life of each device.
The cameras will be distributed on a case-by-case basis. There's no location requirement. Kate Davis, chief of staff at the YWCA, said the eligibility requirements are loosely defined as victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, harassment or stalking.
The main requirement is the survivor can't be living in the same home as the abuser.
The cameras will also be distributed through community partners such as End Slavery, Agape, Legal Aid and the Hispanic Family Foundation.
Sharon K. Roberson, YWCA president and CEO, called the partnership a "game changer for survivors."
"This is just an extra tool that they can use as part of their survival plan," she said.
Rusty Burdge, a YWCA board member, shared her personal story of surviving domestic violence. She stayed in the YWCA's Weaver Center, the largest domestic violence shelter in Tennessee, in the winter of 2008 to 2009.
Burdge was stalked by her ex-husband for over a year. He would break into her home, threaten her kids and slash her tires.
She described the trauma of constantly wondering what her stalker was doing and where he was. She said she wished she would have had access to a Ring camera when she was dealing with her stalker.
"To be able to have this, to be able to give this to survivors is going to help speed up their recovery and to be able to come into a sense of peace so much more quickly," she said.
She also said the cameras would be a deterrent to drive-bys, creepy messages and items left on the porch by abusers because they would be caught.
In addition to the cameras, Amazon and Ring donated $25,000 to the YWCA.
Roberson didn't know the donation was happening and was visibly surprised.
"Our mission is critical, and we want all women and children to be safe in the community. That will go a very long way to add to money that will be well-spent to keep them safe," she said.
The money will go toward the budget to be used for the Weaver Center, Roberson said.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett were on hand at Monday's ceremony.
"Community safety has to be our No. 1 priority," Cooper said as he thanked the YWCA for their work with domestic violence survivors.
This year, there have been 15,300 domestic violence reports in Nashville, Cooper said. Every 20 minutes, police in Nashville answer a domestic violence call.
Hargett shared about the state's Safe at Home program that shields addresses of domestic violence victims from publicly available channels. Survivors are given a substitute address that can be used as an official mailing address.
He said the donation from Amazon and Ring would be a life-saving, generational-impacting gift.
"The real victory are the stories that we're not going to have to hear about," Hargett said.
If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, you can call the YWCA’s 24-hour crisis and support help line at 800-334-4628. The YWCA’s Domestic Violence Crisis text line is 615-983-5170.