National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Hope, Help, Heartfelt Thanks

The following entry is written by Regan Martin, survivor and subject of a blog post we featured a few weeks ago dealing with GPS tracking written by her mother Cherry Simpson. This is a follow up to that story and reveals new developments in her case.

Hope, Help, Heartfelt Thanks

I am a survivor of spousal rape and abuse. Lost, alone and repeatedly victimized and dehumanized by the system is how my I felt for the three years I have struggled through the system. I have received help from shelters, advocates, and even gotten media attention but it has been extremely hard on me, I lost my home, I have spent over $22,000 on attorney fees, relocation fees, and countless hours in court. It seemed hopeless and without end. I hated the thought of how my children and I could live like this any longer.

Then in November 2008 Rachel Sandal Morse became my friend, advocate and pro bono [Latin, For the public good] attorney she helped the prosecution in the goal of holding the offender accountable and me and my children, from any future harm. My mother had written a letter asking for help from the Cindy Bischof Foundation. Harvard Law Professor Diane Rosenfeld contacted an ex-student with the firm of Jenner and Block in Chicago, IL.

Rachel first acted on my behalf as my attorney during the criminal prosecution of the 3rd (13 counts) and 4th (3 counts) violation’s of OP. Rachel made the court more bearable; she made me comfortable and spoke for me better than anyone ever had. Words can’t describe how she changed everything. She was my communicator, my navigator, my rescuer, and gave me hope when I thought I had none. She was so gracious and knowledgeable. She made everyone want to do a better job. She helped mend the huge gaping hole of misunderstanding and uncaring felt between the system and the victim. She turned it all around so smoothly, so kindly. She helped my children and me more than anyone else ever has.

Don’t give up hope, my abuser is in prison now and I have some sense of peace until his release on 1/2/2011. I am continuing to fight and I have an active order of protection even though he is in prison. He has stalked me since 2006. I have asked a federal prosecutor to do a Federal Stalking Threshold Analysis.

Don’t be afraid to ask for legal help with your domestic violence case. There are people out there willing to serve and help others. I thank God for them.

Recently my mother wrote about the use of the GPS on my abuser and how it helped to save our lives. Because she shared my story a representative from Justice for Children came forward and offered to help me with the visitation family court problems still looming over us.

I will do all I can to keep my children and myself safe. Don’t be afraid to share your story. Asking for help is good. Helping others helps you.

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

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Vice President Joe Biden Visits the Hotline

joe-bidenVice President Joe Biden made a visit to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline on Tuesday April 28, 2009 for a press event and tour of the facilities. This was his second visit to the organizations in six years. The Office on Violence Against Women Acting Director Catherine Pierce and Austin Mayor Will Wynn joined the Vice President at this event.

Vice President Joe Biden’s support for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and his vision for safe families has been unwavering. Biden is the author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA). The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established in 1996 as a component of VAWA passed by Congress.

VAWA changed the way law enforcement and the legal system handled domestic violence cases. VAWA provided $1.6 billion to enhance investigation and prosecution of the violent crime perpetrated against women, increased pre-trial detention of the accused and imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted. Biden also helped accomplish the reauthorization of the Act in 2005.

Nearly six years ago, Senator Biden recruited a core group of the nation’s leading technology companies to visit the Hotline and listen first-hand to crisis calls. The result of Biden’s first visit to the Hotline was a $2.7 million plan to replace existing technology with new systems integrating telephone technology with new computer and database technology. The advanced technology has helped save the lives of thousands of women, children and families.


Author of “Crazy Love” Speaks Out Against Domestic Violence

Here’s what I want to say to everyone who is obsessed with Chris Brown and Rihanna, including Oprah, Dr. Phil, The New York Times, The Washington Post, TMZ, and the other 34 million Google hits on their names:  Thank you!  Shining a spotlight on abusive violence is good for everyone. Abuse is a crime.  If you are being abused, you need help immediately — and you need to end the abusive relationship.  Our society and criminal justice system need to hold abusers responsible for their actions, and stop further abuse.
However, anger at Chris Brown, and the backlash on those who defend him, masks a terrible truth that women and children who have loved abusers know all too well: that most abusers have already been punished, usually by enduring awful abuse during their childhoods, as Chris Brown says he did at the hands of his stepfather. I share the anger at abusers (male and female), but If we oversimplify the dynamics of domestic violence, neither victims nor abusers can ever get the help they need.  To break the cycle of violence, our culture needs to understand more completely how intimate partner violence unfolds and repeats itself.

Batterers are criminals, but they are real people — not villains. We would never fall in love with them, or trust them with our love, in the first place if they were so obviously horrific. I’m not defending batterers — they need to come clean and take responsibility for their actions and their treatment, and you should never stay with an abusive man, no matter how much good you see in him, and how much you feel you love him.  But it’s destructive for our society to paint a batterer in black and white terms.  The hidden message perversely blames the victim: “How could she have fallen in love with such an awful man?”  The truth is far more complex and dangerous.

It was so hard to recognize that I was being abused, and to leave my abusive partner, but I have gotten tremendous solace and support by joining the Million Voices campaign and by sharing my story in my book Crazy Love and a YouTube video.

If you want to tell your story, please join The Crazy Love Project, a safe place for people to share stories of surviving abusive love (anonymously if you prefer).

I hope one day we hear Rihanna’s story. And Chris Brown’s. And yours.
Leslie Morgan Steiner

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

National Domestic Violence Hotline on Larry King Live

Recent coverage of the Chris Brown and Rihanna incident has brought the serious issue of domestic violence into the national spotlight. Many media outlets have been reaching out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) in an effort to bring to light the severity of the issue through use of our statistics and staff commentary on the recent incident.

Victor Rivers and Robin Givens, who are both members of NDVH’s Celebrity Board and spokespeople for the Hotline were recently featured on Tuesday night’s “Larry King Live,” where guest host Joy Behar examined the difficulties in stopping domestic abuse.

Robin Givens, a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of her former husband, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson shared her story and provided valuable insight as to what it feels like to experience domestic abuse and how similar the experiences of victims can be.

“I’ve spoken to women every[where]. … Peoria, El Paso. … And what’s amazing is that I find that my story is their story; their story is my story — down to the details.” Givens said. “He dragged me down the hall by my hair. He pulled me out of bed by my panties. He would like to choke me. He would kick.”

Contact information for the Helpline was featured prominently on the program as well. The Hotline answered an estimated 1,463 phone calls on the day of the broadcast resulting in a 90% increase in call volume on that day over the previous year.

Please visit the link below to view a full transcript of the show. The show will also be rebroadcast on Saturday, March 14, 2009.

Transcript from

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

The More You Know

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is featured in the NBC’s The More You Know public service campaign for 2009. Two spots by two NBC actresses focus on domestic violence with the Hotline number shown on the screen. The More You Know is the longest running, most comprehensive network public service campaign in the media landscape. For nearly two decades, the campaign continues to make a difference in communities across the country by raising awareness of important societal issues and motivating viewers to take action. Through its on-air public service announcements and website, The More You Know reaches more than 53 million viewers each week.

Read More…

announcement Launches Love Mashup To Kickoff National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week Feb. 2-6

Austin, Texas—Feb. 2, 2009 — Today the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (NDAH) launched the new online application Love Mashup! The LOVE message moviemaker from  Users can make quick movies using art and sound elements from the LOVE campaign to spread the message of healthy dating. Love Mashup allows teens to make their own movies, from five seconds up to 30 seconds, by dragging and dropping sound and art clips from The Love Library to send movies to their friends, their Valentine, or anyone for any occasion. The Avon Foundation is funding the social networking interactive campaign through the m.powerment by mark campaign, dedicated to empowering young women and preventing the cycle of dating abuse and partner abuse. “Dating abuse is something that is not normally talked about or discussed,” said Lauren Conrad, Honorary Co-Chair of the mark girl’s m.powerment campaign. “Love Mashup is a great tool that gives a voice to young women who want to express their feelings and concerns to their friends about recognizing the signs of abuse and how to prevent it before it begins.”

The first week of February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week to raise awareness and increase education of the alarming and often under-reported crime of teen dating violence. “It is critical to raise awareness about teen dating violence, and to let teens know the red flags of an unhealthy relationship, as well as what healthy relationships should be,” said Sheryl Cates, CEO of the NTDAH. “Hitting, slapping, pushing and controlling behavior, like repeated text messages and telling you what to wear and who to hang out with are signs of danger in a relationship.” This week also marks the second anniversary of loveisrespect, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. The Helpline and website are designed for teens so they can speak or chat with a peer or adult about their fears and get immediate assistance.

About Loveisrespect
NDVH launched loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline in 2007, to serve as a source of support and resources for teens involved in dating abuse relationships, their peers, parents, teachers, and friends. The Helpline, a project to of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH)  offers new and innovative services to teens across the country who are experiencing dating abuse and those who are looking to engage in healthy relationships by utilizing technologies that teens use most often: the telephone, web, and chat. Young men and women can anonymously contact trained peer-to-peer advocates by telephone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. at 1-866-331-9474 or  HYPERLINK “” to chat (IM style) .

For Immediate Release
Retha Lindsey Fielding, APR
(512) 794-1133 Office
(512) 492-2405 Cell


Increased Financial Stress Affects Domestic Violence Victims

Austin, Texas—January 29, 2009—National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) data released today suggests a link between financial stress and domestic violence. For victims who called the national Hotline during the six week study, 54 percent reported a change in their household’s financial situation in the past year.

NDVH CEO Sheryl Cates said the study was developed in response to both an increase in anecdotal information from callers about how the economic downturn has affected their family, and questions from news media all over the country who asked whether the increase in the demand for Hotline, residential and non-residential services was related to the economy.

“Hotline calls in the third quarter of 2008 were up significantly over 2007, with September up 21 percent,” Cates said. “From what we were hearing on the calls, we believed that there was a link, but needed data to be sure.”

From November 12 until December 31, 2008, 32,316 Hotline calls were received, with 7,868 callers participating in the study. Of those, 54 percent (3,272) answered yes to the question “Has there been a change in your household’s financial situation in the past year?”

Sixty-four percent also answered the second question affirmatively, which was “Do you believe the abusive behavior has increased in the past year?”

“This increase in call volume comes at a time when private donations to the Hotline have decreased significantly,” said Cates. “About 35 percent of our budget is private funds from corporations, foundations and individuals. Given our current capacity and the current call volume, we project as many as 44,000 Hotline calls could go unanswered if we do not reach our funding goals.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), 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.

Retha Lindsey Fielding, APR
(512) 794-1133 Office
(512) 492-2405 Cell