National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Technology Safety for Survivors

Technology safety is a very important issue in the domestic violence community. Technological advances have great benefits but there are also drawbacks and caution must be used, especially when communicating online.  People often don’t realize that the information they post online may reveal more about themselves than they intend. We sat down with an expert in the field to get insight and tips on safety. The following is our short question and answer session:

Where did you learn about online safety?

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) provides a great training program called Safety Net: the National Safe and Strategic Technology Project. Safety Net educates victims, their advocates and the general public on ways to use technology strategically to help find safety and escape domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking.

What advice do you have about internet browsing safety?

The most important thing to remember is to use a safe computer, one that the abuser has absolutely no access to. You can use a computer at the public library, at a friend’s place, a local internet cafe, etc. The reason for this is that everything you do on a computer can be tracked. Clearing the browsing history is not enough of a precaution because abusers can install spyware on your computer to track your usage even if they no longer have physical access to the computer.

What are some best practices for communicating safely online in regards to disclosure of personal information?

It is always best to disclose as little as possible online. You never know who may be reading what you write. Do not write anything you would not want an abuser to know. Think before sharing  any information about yourself or others that can identify you, including  names, specific locations, or any other unique personal information. It is also important to understand that email is not a secure form of communication; it can be tracked. Sending emails should be treated in the same manner you would treat sending postcards, they can end up anywhere and anyone can read them.

What are some other general tips you would like to share?

The following are some general tips provided by NNEDV:

Trust your instincts: If you suspect an abusive person knows too much, it  is possible that your phone, computer, email or other activities are being monitored.

Create a new email account: If you suspect that anyone abusive can access your email, consider creating an additional email account on a safer computer. Do not create or check this new email from a computer your abuser could access, in case it is monitored.

Change passwords and pin numbers: Some abusers use victim’s email and other accounts to impersonate and cause harm. If anyone abusive knows or may guess your passwords, change them quickly and frequently.

Use a donated or new cell phone:  When making or receiving private calls or arranging escape plans, try not to use a shared or family cell phone because cell phone bill records and phone logs might reveal your plans to an abuser.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Sheryl Cates Honored by Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus Group

sheryl-with-lamar-21Sheryl Cates, CEO of the Texas Council on Family Violence, National Domestic Violence Hotline and, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline received the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus Ed Stout Memorial Award for Outstanding Victim Advocacy.  Cates was nominated for the national award by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX-21) pictured, and presented the award by Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX-2), co-chair of the Caucus.

The Ed Stout award honors outstanding individuals, agencies and collaborative initiatives whose efforts directly benefit victims and survivors of crime, and promote individual and public safety.


Meadows and H-E-B Answer Emergency Call for Funding

May 7, 2009—The Meadows Foundation, Dallas, and H-E-B, San Antonio, have donated $639,000 in 2009 for direct services to aid Texans seeking emergency assistance because of domestic violence.

The Meadows Foundation has awarded a total of $364,000 since January in emergency grants to domestic violence agencies, including $175,000 which will be used for the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) in Austin. H-E-B has announced a special grant of $100,000, which includes $25,000 for the Hotline and $75,000 for shelter programs in communities served by H-E-B. Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) will distribute community funds.

“These generous donations come at a time when the demand for services is increasing and many donors are scaling back philanthropic giving because of the depressed economy,” said Sheryl Cates, CEO of the Hotline and TCFV.  “It is a tribute to these two organizations that they have recognized and responded to a call for help so that vulnerable families will have somewhere to turn for help. Reports of increased demand for services at domestic violence shelters are being heard from many communities in Texas, and Hotline calls in the first quarter of 2009 are up significantly over 2008, with March up 43 percent. When families are under stress, incidents of abuse increase, resulting in increased calls to the Hotline and requests for safe shelter for families.”

Over the last five years, The Meadows Foundation has contributed approximately $3.1 million to 29 domestic violence service providers throughout Texas. “We recognize that domestic violence agencies are struggling this year to serve as many families as possible, even in the face of budget and staff reductions,” said Bruce Esterline, Vice President for Grants. “Because of the great need, our foundation will continue to review requests for emergency funding throughout 2009.”

As part of its ongoing commitment to the communities it serves, H-E-B strives to earn, build and maintain a positive relationship of trust, creating a tradition of caring that has come to be known as H-E-B’s Spirit of Giving. Winell Heron, group vice president of public affairs and diversity for H-E-B, said the company’s contributions program has been prioritized this year for direct services to families to help with basic needs, and this statewide gift was conceived as a way to reach many communities in a coordinated effort. “H-E-B prides itself in ‘helping families here,’ and we are deeply grateful to the staff of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and domestic violence shelters throughout the state for working so hard this year, under very challenging circumstances, to protect women, children and families.”

“The combination of $225,000 from The Meadows Foundation and H-E-B will help keep the Hotline service available to thousands more Texans,” Cates said. “We have estimated that as many as 44,000 Hotline calls could go unanswered if fundraising goals are not met, and Texas represents our second-highest state in call volume. We are extremely grateful for the support of The Meadows Foundation and H-E-B.  It is an outstanding example of corporate responsibility toward our communities.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), is part of the National Council on Family Violence headquartered in Austin, Texas, is a confidential 24/7 Hotline, established by Congress and funded by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The confidential service provides crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. Additional information may be obtained at or by calling 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 800-787-3224.

H-E-B was founded in Kerrville, Texas in 1905 with a single grocery store. For more than 100 years, H-E-B has been an innovative retailer known for low prices, fresh food, quality products and convenient services. The company has grown to more than 300 stores in Texas and Northern Mexico, with more than 70,000 employees. It conducts a wide range of efforts geared toward helping the community and the environment. H-E-B is one of the largest food chains in the United States, with annual sales more than $15 billion, and is the largest privately held company in Texas.

Patty Gonzales, Communications Manager
(512) 685-6366 Office

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

GPS Tracking

The following blog entry was written by Cherry Simpson, mother of domestic violence survivor Regan Martin. For more information about her story click here.

Other links of interest:
Cindy Bischof Foundation 
GPS News and Media Harvard Law Professor Diane Rosenfeld

In May 2006 my daughter was handcuffed, raped and beaten by her husband – he confessed and was still allowed to plea out of the sex crime status. He got 3 yrs 9 months and served 19 months. We knew he would do it again upon his release. He stalked my daughter from prison. We were told from day one you’ll never get a GPS put on him. Well we did.

I personally credit the GPS monitor for keeping my daughter and grandchildren alive. I found out about it by looking on The convicts hate it because they have no legal recourse to have them removed once they’re placed on them by DOC and in fact many speak about it providing evidence used against them. I had read about the death of Cindy Bischof and the law which was passed in IL but it wasn’t going into effect until Jan 2009 and the court didn’t have the funds or the man power to order them or to monitor them at the time. So I did what was logical and contacted IDOC, the PRB and parole. I sent them copies of Regan’s abuser’s arrests and criminal record as well as proof of his continued stalking.

I knew DOC had GPS for sex offenders, so I appealed to them on the basis that he was a sex offender. He had also continued to stalk my daughter from prison and we reported that to the prison and PRB and filed charges with the DA.

I had heard that Harvard Law Professor Diane Rosenfeld worked with the Cindy Bischof Foundation and I wrote them asking for their support. Professor Rosenfeld wrote the lethality assessment for my daughter and got her a pro-bono attorney. to represent her victim rights in court. I thank God for women like Professor Rosenfeld and Attorney Rachel Morse who work in the law, their presence in the justice system is helping to change the Law to reflect reality.

My daughter’s case was written about in the Chicago Tribune. In the story my daughters abuser talks about cutting it off and being able to get to her in 5 minutes. But he didn’t.

The GPS has a 100% success rate in keeping women alive. We wanted an effective legal guarantee of personal-security for my daughter and her children. I think it’s a wonderful tool and will not only help save lives but prevents crime and helps to prosecute crime. We all have GPS on our phones and now we’ve got a microchip being put on our USPS postage stamps because of anthrax and congress. They already use them on sex offenders DOC has them and have monitored them and used the data to prosecute perpetrators. I believe it is inevitable we will all see them utilized soon. Congress wants to live too.

I also think the GPS is important for womens human rights. Too many women are dying from domestic violence. I personally find it very disingenuous that any domestic violence coalition wouldn’t want it. It saves lives. It shouldn’t be about money, it should be about saving womens lives. The rate prisoners are being released early we all need this crime deterrent tool.

Women are being blamed for getting themselves beat and raped by men they know and then chastised for not liking them afterwards. We need the state to recognize that women are violated because we are women (a form of unequal treatment which needs legal teeth) the GPS helps do exactly that and more.

The problems I hear about have been about state lines but according to the VAWA and the Full Faith and Credit Laws it should not be a problem. We have asked PRB upon my daughter’s abuser’s new release that he be given a GPS monitor just like the last time (he was just put back into prison for the 3rd and 4th violation of OP). The Attorney General of Illinois has assured me he will have it put on him. We received a letter from IDOC told my daughter she would qualify for the GPS under the new Cindy Bischof Law.

I already have the proof it works to save lives…my daughter and grandchildren LIVE with us now.


Cherry Simpson

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Share Your Voice

About a year ago, we had a vision of creating a space where survivors and people who are interested in the cause of domestic violence could share opinions and ideas on current events. Today, we are making that vision a reality with the creation of “Share Your Voice”, a blog that will feature guest authors who will write on various topics related to domestic violence. We will also present the opportunity for comments to be posted. The topic of domestic violence will often create a heated discussion. Our hope is that this will be a place where we can all share our ideas and thoughts in a respectful manner, as well as feel free to voice our disagreements. We hope to have little moderation over comments, because we believe this community will be able to moderate itself. However, we will remove comments we deem to be inappropriate.

My husband grew up in community where violence was prevalent. His mother left his father when he was a very young child. Although he has no actual memory of his father, he does remember hearing yelling and screaming while his father was abusing his mother. He has told me that when he was growing up and would see a father and son together, he would feel envious. He has also told stories about how he needed to learn to fight at an early age in order to protect himself. When I first started working in the field of domestic violence, which was over ten years ago, I remember sitting in a training and the trainer was covering “Characteristic of a Batterer” and talking about children who witness violence, cultural norms, etc. I remember thinking, “my partner has some of these characteristics”. So, I began to think, how did we get so lucky? How is it that my husband didn’t follow that behavior? What characteristics does he have that allowed him to stop the cycle of violence?

Well, my husband had positive male role models in his life. These men were coaches, his playmates’ fathers and most significantly, three young men from his neighborhood, who let a young boy, follow them around, play football with them in the street and hang out with them each summer. They helped him dream big dreams, they challenged him and although they pestered him as young kids do, they taught him respect. They are all grown up now and all are fathers themselves, but are still connected.

My husband worked against the odds and I know I am truly blessed to have found him. Now, that we are parents ourselves, we work on a daily basis to ensure our son has a nurturing, loving home environment. We want our son to respect all people and know that violence is never okay. At the same time, we want to teach him how to be confident and assertive. We question ourselves daily about whether or not we are saying or doing the right things. As parents, we are aware of how our behaviors impact our little one and that his eyes and ears are aware of our actions and words.

At the National Domestic Violence Hotline, we dream of a day when our services will no longer be needed and the phone will stop ringing. It is my personal hope that someday, I will be able to tell my grandchildren what I used to do and they will have no idea what domestic violence is. Perhaps, as we continue this blog, we will begin to see more people join our cause, share their stories and together we will eliminate domestic violence!

– Katie Ray Jones, Hotline Operations Director