National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women

In honor of International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women (Nov. 25), many countries in Latin America and around the world will hold different events. To commemorate this day and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence (which goes until Dec. 10th), the State Department is hosting a panel discussion on Monday, Nov. 29th with Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer entitled : “Changing Attitudes: What Men and Boys Can Do to Address and Prevent Violence against Women.”

People around the world can tune in via webcast . For more information and to listen to this webcast, you can click here or utilize the links below. This panel will feature Carol Kurzig, President, Avon Foundation for Women; Ambassador Meera Shankar, Indian Ambassador to the U.S.; Nisha Biswal, Assistant Administrator for Asia, USAID; Anthony Porter, Co-Founder, A Call to Men; and Nandini Azad, Chairperson of the Independent Commission for People’s Rights and Development (ICPRD). The panel will highlight actions that governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations are taking to address gender-based violence. A short documentary by the NGO ICPRD will be screened, showcasing how men and boys from rural India are using street plays and performances to change negative attitudes against women.


Monday, November 29 10:30 EST (15:30 GMT)

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

The Hotline Gives Thanks

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is a day to spend time with family, giving thanks for loved ones, eating a home-cooked meal and enjoying all that life has to offer. During this holiday, we at The Hotline pause to give thanks and show gratitude for the following:

  • That those affected by domestic violence find the courage and strength to make that first call for help to 1-800-799-SAFE.
  • That elected officials understand the serious situation that domestic violence victims find themselves in and are working to help end domestic violence.
  • For partners and donors’ support and dedication in helping The Hotline be a vital link to safety for thousands of victims each month.
  • For advocates who give selflessly to each caller and are a voice of hope and safety as they journey toward a life free from violence.

Not everyone will have an easy holiday. Some will not be home, but instead seeking safety and refuge at their local family violence shelter. You can make these families’ holidays brighter by reaching out to your local family violence program this season. There are many ways you can help:

  • Volunteer your time at a local family violence program
  • Donate your professional skills (i.e. legal services, administrative, medical, hairstyling, etc.)
  • Organize a food drive or toy drive through your church, club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.
  • Donate gifts for adults and children. Some programs even provide opportunities for residents to pick and give gifts to their children.
  • Adopt a family at your local program
  • Donate your gently used clothing items. Programs use these items for residents who flee with only the clothes on their backs. Some also have resale shops and accept donations of clothes, toys, books, etc.

Keep watching the website for our “Light Up the Holidays” series, discussing how you can help those affected by domestic violence this holiday season. And from everyone at The Hotline, we wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

The Hotline Ranks in the Top 10 Best Places to Work in Texas

The National Domestic Violence Hotline was honored to rank in the top 10 best places to work in a 2010 report conducted by the Austin American Statesman and Workplace Dynamics, a company with expertise in employee engagement. The Hotline is the only social services nonprofit ranked in the top 10.  “We are honored that our employees find satisfaction in our workplace and believe in our mission, ethics, leadership and values,” said CEO Dyanne Purcell in response.

The evaluation for the Top Workplaces program is based upon feedback from anonymous employee surveys. The surveys were then analyzed for the results and came up with a list of the Top 75 Austin-area employers.

Read more about the recognition.

Click here to read more about employment at The Hotline.


The National Domestic Violence Hotline Ranks as One of the Best Places to Work in Texas

November 22, 2010 — The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) received a Top 10 ranking for great places to work in 2010 by the Austin American Statesman and Workplace Dynamics, a company with expertise in employee engagement surveys. The Hotline is the only social services nonprofit ranked in the Top 10.

The Hotline ranked 9th in the Small Business category. The Hotline is located in Austin, Texas and has been the leading voice and only National Hotline in the nation focusing on helping victims of domestic violence. The Hotline is a vital link to safety, answering calls personally, helping victims and survivors of domestic violence see options for next steps and connecting them to immediate sources of help.

The Austin American Statesman says the winners share one important quality: They have earned the admiration and loyalty of their employees, who say they are great places to work. The survey designed and conducted anonymous employee surveys, analyzed the results and came up with a list of the Top 75 Austin-area employers.

The Hotline CEO Dyanne Purcell says, “There is no greater honor for a CEO than for the employees of an organization to say the National Domestic Violence Hotline is a great place to work. It’s a challenge worthy of attention to create a workplace that employees praise, especially during a down economy. We are honored our employees find satisfaction in our workplace and believe in our mission, ethics, leadership and values.”

Here are some of the comments Hotline employees expressed about working in Austin at the National Domestic Violence Hotline– a life saving service that answered more than 250,000 calls this year and over 2 million calls since its inception in 1996 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

“I’m surrounded by strong, kind-hearted, wise people all day. Everyone has amazing dedication and treats one another with respect. That includes supervisors, team-members, and upper management.”

“I am a survivor, and passionate about making sure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to others, or at least try my very best to ensure the options available to the callers.”

“I believe in the mission and it feels rewarding to me to help others.” The Hotline is open 24/7, 365 days out of the year.

The Hotline receives an average of 22,500 calls a month. Since its inception in 1996 the Hotline has responded to over 2 million callers from around the nation. The Hotline has implemented a Wellness Program for staff to utilize to maximize self care and learn new wellness tools. Some of the features of the Wellness program include monthly wellness sessions facilitated by staff, visual reminders throughout The Hotline room encouraging staff to take care of themselves. To emphasize management’s commitment to employee wellness, The Hotline also added an additional paid 15 minute break as a respite from the intensity of the crisis intervention work.


The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline), 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.

Contact: Susan Risdon (512) 492-2405 Cell
National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Silence is Not The Answer

by Christina Owens

When you’re silent
You’re identifying with him
When you’re silent
You’re telling her that her life isn’t valuable
When you’re silent
You’re condoning his behaviour
When you’re silent
You’re disregarding her
When you’re silent
You’re making excuses for him
When you’re silent
It’s your hand striking her
Silence is not the answer
Silence is the problem
Refuse to be silent

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

It’s Not Her Fault

by Christina Owens

You see her every day – in the street, in the supermarket and even at work. She’s the woman who wears long sleeves during the summer, sunglasses inside and keeps to herself. She wears a smile on the outside, but her sad eyes tell of another life; her secret life. No one knows how difficult her life is at home. She is ridiculed, she is told she’s good for nothing, she is yelled at for everything she does or doesn’t do, she generally does very few things right and, as a result, is “punished” by the same man who tells her every night that he loves her. She is afraid for her life at home, but more afraid to leave. She is stuck.

Any woman can find herself in these situations: situations where she is stuck, situations that aren’t her fault, situations where she is the victim of domestic violence. She can’t leave. Leaving puts her in more danger than staying and enduring the abuse that she has come to know. Leaving means starting over; being strong and she thinks that she is weak. She doesn’t know how to take the first step or even if she wants to. Although being a victim of domestic violence isn’t what she had planned for her life, it’s her reality and it’s what she knows.

Many outsiders say things like, “If I were her, I would just leave.” And that’s exactly what she thought she would do too. But the first time he struck her, it was an accident. He didn’t mean to and he apologized for it again and again and promised it was an isolated incident. She forgave him; after all, he was the love of her life. And it seemed like it was an isolated incident. Until three months later, when he struck her again, but this time it was her fault – that’s the lie she believed. Maybe if she had been better at cooking or at cleaning or if she had left the office earlier to avoid the traffic jam, he wouldn’t have gotten so angry. He apologized again and she forgave him again, telling herself she would be better to him. She loves him and believes that he loves her. She has learned all the excuses to make for him and she believes all of his lies. It’s definitely more complicated than “just leaving.” He controls every aspect of her life. She does things out of fear, she isn’t the woman she wanted to be, but she doesn’t know how to become that woman.

Instead of asking, “Why doesn’t she leave?” try asking, “Why doesn’t the abuser stop being violent?” LOVE IS RESPECT.

*Thank you Christina for sharing this moving portrait of a victim. Your words will help others*

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

SEEING Beyond Abuse

By Jessica L. Young, O.D. | Pennsylvania Optometric Association’s 2010 Young Optometrist of the Year

Many may think that visiting an eye doctor would be the last place for an abuse victim to go.  After reading this article, you may disagree. One day, a 49 year-old woman came to see me for a routine eye examination. Her vision was getting a little worse and she thought, “Maybe I need a new pair of glasses.” During the examination, I noticed a tear in the iris of her right eye.

Upon checking her eye pressure I found that it was elevated in her right eye. I asked the woman if she had ever sustained any injuries to her eyes. She confirmed that she had in fact been hit many times in her eyes and face years ago by a former boyfriend. I explained how the trauma had damaged her eye and the increased eye pressure could lead to optic nerve damage and vision loss if left untreated. We decided to begin medicated eye drops to lower the eye pressure. So far the drops are successfully keeping the pressure down, reducing her chances of vision loss. This woman very well may have lost her eyesight had she not happened to come for a regular eye exam.

Physical assault resulting in trauma to the eye can have both immediate and lasting effects. If trauma to the eye occurs, urgent medical attention should be sought to treat any immediate damage. Visiting an eye doctor is prudent for anyone who has ever sustained trauma to the eye at any time. This is because a form of glaucoma, called traumatic or angle recession glaucoma, can occur months or even years after an eye injury.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. But what is glaucoma? The eye contains fluid, which is constantly being produced and drained. This fluid creates a pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure) and helps the eye keep its shape. If this pressure becomes too high, it can damage the nerve inside the eye (the optic nerve), which can result in permanent vision loss. This is glaucoma.

When the eye undergoes trauma, the damage that occurs can lead to glaucoma. The fluid in the eye is drained where the cornea (the front clear window of the eye) meets the iris (the colored part of the eye); this is called the angle. This drainage angle can be damaged during a traumatic event such as a strike to the eye. When the angle is damaged, the fluid may not drain properly, which can cause the eye pressure to increase and can then lead to glaucoma. This is a special type of glaucoma: angle recession, or traumatic glaucoma.

In the United States, over 1 million Americans experience eye injuries each year. Blunt eye injuries account for over 60% of these injuries, and over 10% of all eye traumas are due to assault[1]. Damage to the eye angle (called angle recession) is one of the most common complications after a strike to the eye[2].  Though infrequent, damage to the eye angle can lead to angle recession glaucoma. This can occur weeks, months, or even many years after the trauma to the eye has occurred. As with most other forms of glaucoma, symptoms of vision loss are not noticed until the glaucoma is advanced and the damage is extensive. In fact, glaucoma is often called the “sneak thief of sight”. Since traumatic glaucoma can occur long after the eye has been injured, it is very important not only have an initial eye examination, but also regular visits to an eye doctor.

At the first visit to an eye doctor, it is necessary to mention any previous eye or head trauma so the eye can be properly evaluated for angle recession and glaucoma. The doctor will check the eye angle with a special lens, measure the eye pressure, and evaluate the optic nerves for any signs of damage. If angle recession is found, regular follow-up visits will be needed to monitor the eye for angle recession glaucoma. If glaucoma is detected, the doctor will likely start prescription eye drops to lower the eye pressure and try to prevent further damage to the optic nerve.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Domestic violence is a serious problem and a common cause of injury.

I urge anyone who has ever sustained an eye injury, especially victims of domestic violence or child abuse, to schedule an examination with an eye doctor. Please mention your history of eye trauma so the eyes can be properly evaluated

[1] American Academy of Ophthalmology.  2009 Eye Injury Snapshot Project Results.

[2] Sullivan, Brian R.  Angle Recession Glaucoma.

* It’s rare to get an eye doctor’s perspective on domestic violence. We thank Dr. Young for reaching out to us and sharing this important piece of information. *

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Judge Pirro Releases PSA for “Love Is” Campaign

Judge Jeanine Pirro, host of the Emmy-nominated and syndicated “Judge Pirro” show, has partnered with The Hotline to launch an educational initiative about domestic violence this season. Pirro has incorporated safety tips and action plans into the show in an effort to empower women and men in abusive situations.

“The public has to be educated about domestic violence,” explained Pirro. “Every time a victim is ignored, a criminal goes unpunished, or violence is excused, our society erodes further.”

Judge Pirro is not only raising awareness about what constitutes emotional, physical and sexual abuse, but is also offering resources to those who may be in unhealthy relationships.

Judge Pirro joins the National Domestic Violence Hotline in our 15th Anniversary “Love Is” campaign with a series of public service announcements that we will be releasing throughout the year. We are proud to have her be a part of The Hotline’s 15th Anniversary and Honorary Committee.

Visit our 15th Anniversary page to learn more about the “Love Is” Campaign.

A Presidential Commitment to Ending Domestic Violence

“The bottom line is this: No one in America should live in fear because they are unsafe in their own home – no adult, no child. And no one who is the victim of abuse should ever feel as though they have no way to get out. We need to make sure that every victim of domestic violence knows that they are not alone; that there are resources available to them in their moment of greatest need. As a society, we need to ensure that if a victim of abuse reaches out for help, we are there to lend a hand.”

–President Obama

On October 27th, President Obama and Vice President Biden recognized Domestic Violence Awareness Month with an event hosted at The White House. With the East Room filled with advocates, policy makers, politicians and other dignitaries, the President discussed the work being done by the administration on behalf of domestic violence victims, particularly economic provisions that help survivors financially reconstruct their lives.

Also on that date, the Department of Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Labor and FDIC announced new initiatives to protect victims and provide resources for families and communities to prevent abuse. The White House outlined the main goals of these initiatives as the following:

• Protect Children and Break the Cycle of Violence
• Improve Legal Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence
• Increase Sexual Assault Arrests and Successful Prosecutions
• Help Victims Regain Housing and Financial Independence

The Hotline CEO Dyanne Purcell and Katie Ray-Jones, Director for The Hotline and loveisrespect, were in attendance at the event, as well as several members of The Hotline’s Board of Directors.

In addition to the October 27th event, there was also the 16th anniversary of VAWA, hosted by Vice President Biden. To read a summary of that event and to see photos, please click here.

To learn more about the memorable occasion, please read The White House summary of the event.

To read the transcript of President Obama’s remarks, please click here.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Life After

It takes a lot of courage to share these stories. Thanks to Shana Smith for speaking about her experience in the hopes of helping others.

This is something that you just don’t hear enough about. Survivors speak and they go from their abuse to what they are currently doing, not describing enough of the true gut-wrenching feelings that you have in the days weeks or months after you leave. Life after abuse is so positive, but truth be told, sometimes you feel like it’s harder than the abuse. There are many great programs that will help you with the transition from where you have been to where you will be. The Victim Compensation Fund is a great program that will help with Mental Health Therapy, relocation and many other things, plus some cities have at least one shelter to turn to. There are many options for assistance; you just need to safely find them.

After almost 8 years since the abuse, I still deal with my after. There are still days that I apologize incessantly, cry at the drop of a hat, feel totally worthless and take the weight of the world on my shoulders. I still don’t let people see beyond the mask of total happiness — if you met me, you would never know the past that I am hiding. This is the truth about life after abuse. I married my Prince Charming at 19 after a year of dating. We were married about 15 months before he became physically abusive. I became withdrawn from my family and long-term friends out of fear they would find out. I left after 3 ½ years of marriage following a huge fight.

I had no money except for an ATM card that I was just sure he would cancel quickly, no place to go and no clothes. I left with a bag that had no makeup, hair brush or deodorant – only a toothbrush and a change of clothes. I didn’t really know anyone to call, besides I really didn’t want anyone to know. So I drove to the only hotel in town. The hotel was booked! How in the world could a Days Inn in a town of 30,000 people, mostly farm laborers, be BOOKED?! NO WAY was my thought. I begged and pleaded for a room with no luck. I couldn’t go to a shelter for fear I would lose my job if they found out, so I slept in my car that night. Ok, let’s be honest, I didn’t sleep. I waited for him to find me – and then went into work the next day and acted as if everything was normal. My husband worked 30 minutes from our house so I knew that I could, safely, go home at lunch without him there to get something for the next day. I didn’t go home the day after I left because I didn’t know if he would expect that and be there. I knew what the consequence would be for leaving.

I met someone at my gym who let me sleep on the couch until I got on my feet. For three months I hid. For three months, my abuser came to my work to ‘take care of me,’ bringing me little things like protein shakes, soup and money, all to entice me back into my old life. I was so secretive about my separation that people I worked with thought we were still happily married until after my divorce was final. Even through it all I wanted to make him happy. I wanted to make everything ok. I knew that I couldn’t go back but that didn’t mean that I wanted anything negative to happen to him or me. I just wanted to move on; I wanted a healthy life and chance to be more than just So & So’s wife – I wanted to be Shana.

Most victims would say that you become the queen of appearance. You know how to smile regardless of what just happened and act like everything is fine. The months after I left were horribly hard. I thought it would never get better. I thought I would never be able to support myself, be able to pay my own bills and be a successful adult without him. I often thought about going back because that would have been so much easier, at least in that arena I knew what to expect.

I couldn’t handle most loud noises. A slamming cupboard in the next apartment would make me jump and TV shows with violence would give me horrible nightmares (I still don’t do well with them). I was sick to my stomach constantly worried that my work or my family would find out my secret. I didn’t sleep very well; always worried that he would come to get me. There were days that I would cry – just sob – because I felt like I failed. I was getting divorced at 23 years old. I couldn’t handle the reality in my mind as a complete failure. To this day I feel like that sometimes.

Two months after I left, I finally went to our apartment to move my things into storage and on that day he tried to kill me. I remember thinking that I would die by strangulation. Thankfully, he let me go and I eventually moved to San Diego where I eventually found a job. To forget the past, I drank and had little self-worth. I did anything to try and forget the past. I thought that forgetting it was better than dealing with it. Most people seem to shy away from people after being in an abusive relationship, but I ran head first into as much attention as I could. I went to therapy and tried to talk to my friends, but no one believed that the man I was married to would do anything to hurt me. I felt so isolated and only two people stuck by me through all of this.

I moved to Orange County in 2003, and it was my big chance for a future. I got a job with a temporary agency, making barely enough money to pay my bills, but everything was MINE. The best part was that HE didn’t know where I lived. Until the day he called and begged to get back together, he had changed.

We had been apart for 18 months so I wanted to believe him. I made the mistake of allowing HIM to come down and spend a weekend to talk and see if there was anything left of the relationship and to see if he had changed. How perfect! I could be with him and have no violence and then I hadn’t really failed at marriage, right? After spending time with him, I realized he hadn’t changed. He was still the same person. I asked him to leave and he did. Over the past several years he has emailed me and contacted me on MySpace and Facebook. I’ve come to realize he will never stop trying to reach me.

After a while, I started working on myself, realizing that my unhappiness was not good for me. I deserved to be happy. What I went through with him was not a reflection of who I am or what I am worth. I started writing again and encourage others to write about their day and feelings and then reflect on what you have written.

I began to feel like my old self again. I started looking at dating again and I even stopped drinking occasionally. I didn’t feel the need to be numb any more. In 2006, I had the amazing opportunity to become a mother through adoption.  Every moment of my life became about this little girl. I knew that everything had to change but I never realized that I had pushed my past so far back in my mind. I didn’t realize how much changing my life would require me to deal with things. I have been the mother to my beautiful daughter for 3 years and 5 months. Two and a half years ago I married an amazing man, a man that would never raise his hand to me. To this day, I don’t like scarves around my neck, or really anything touching the front of my neck. I apologize for everything, my fault or not. I worry that my daughter will follow in my footsteps, just as I followed in my mother’s. I worry that no matter how many times I say I am a SURVIVOR of domestic violence that I will have nightmares for the rest of my life.

Surviving domestic violence is one day at a time. I believe that forgiveness is important in moving on but not forgetting because this made you a stronger person. You lived through something that most people couldn’t. I don’t like people to pity me or apologize for what HE did to me. I want people to see me as a strong woman, a mother and a wife – a woman that survived and is thriving. A woman with a mission to help educate others on domestic violence.

Are you supposed to be terrified to leave? YES. Are you supposed to think about him afterwards? YES. Are you supposed to be able to move on and have a happy and healthy relationship? YES. There is no one way to deal with the after trauma of domestic violence but know you can do it. There are so many people here to help, so many organizations that want you to succeed!

You can do it. Each person deals with this in their own way, none of them are any better – only different.