Story By: Dalvin Brown

Uber is offering free rides and food to thousands of women facing violence at home during the shelter-in-place era.

The ride-hailing giant announced plans Thursday to donate 50,000 free rides to domestic violence organizations in more than 30 cities across 16 countries.

The move comes at a time when domestic violence cases are surging in parts of the world. Experts say victims may have a harder time escaping during the coronavirus crisis as public transportation is limited and money is tight.

“A lack of transportation is a huge barrier for survivors of domestic violence every day of the week. And that’s really exacerbated by COVID-19,” said Allison Randall, vice president for policy and emerging issues at the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

“If you’re stuck at home with an abuser, that person might be controlling access to the car, and you literally have no way to get safe.”

Uber is donating the rides directly to domestic violence shelters, and each of those facilities will evaluate how to disperse them to women seeking to get away from toxic home environments.

Local shelters already have relationships with women who need help, and they’re continuing to take emergency hotline calls from survivors. So these centers are positioned to deploy the rides where they need to go, Randall said.

“We’re providing those ride codes to the actual organization and then they will work with the survivor to determine what would be a safe location to take them to,” said Tracey Breeden, head of women’s safety and gender-based violence programs at Uber.

Uber also will provide 45,000 free meals to survivors via donations to shelters.

One in 4 women and 1 in 7 men are on track to experience physical violence by their intimate partner at some point during their lifetimes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, widespread calls to spend more time at home has brought attention to the problem, and some places have seen a rise in evidence suggesting that more foul play is happening at home.

A domestic violence resource website, NYC Hope, saw website visits more than doubled in late March and early April, according to data shared with CNN. Meanwhile, domestic violence helplines and shelters in France, Spain and the United States report seeing more attacks on women and girls, according to UN Women. 

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can call the  National Domestic Violence Hotline to speak confidentially with trained advocates online or by the phone.

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