National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

PBS Documentary on Domestic Violence to Premiere at Newseum in Washington D.C.

Actress and domestic violence prevention activist Mariska Hargitay, of NBC-TV’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, will introduce and appear in Telling Amy’s Story, a documentary on domestic violence that will premiere May 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Newseum, prior to being broadcast on PBS stations nationwide starting in June.

The documentary, created by Penn State Public Broadcasting, chronicles the time leading up to the death of Amy Homan McGee, a mother of two who was shot and killed by her husband. A question-and-answer session to include Sheryl Cates, CEO Emeritus of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, will follow.

The story of Amy Homan McGee is frightening and difficult to believe.  This hard working mother of two small children was tragically murdered at the hands of her abusive husband.

Penn State Public Broadcasting made a documentary and talked with her family, friends, law enforcement and court officials who were involved with the case to get their perspective on what happened in the weeks, months, and years leading up to Amy’s death.

This documentary was made so Amy Homan McGee and other victims’ voices of domestic violence will not be forgotten.  The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) would like communities across the nation to begin a dialogue of how their community can save lives and change the outcome of Amy’s story.  NDVH believes that domestic violence is preventable.   We as communities can not change the outcome of Amy’s life, but we can be an accountable community working positively wifh families for a different outcome.

Through this documentary, you will never forget Amy Homan McGee and we applaud Verizon Foundation and Penn State Public Broadcasting for collaborating on this documentary and engaging communities and showing that we all have a part to play in ending domestic violence.  To see a trailer of the movie and find out how you can get it shown in your area, visit

Domestic violence is preventable and we can all play a part in social change.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

National Coalition Responds to Recent Tragic Death of University of Virginia Student Yeardley Love

Parents of murdered dating violence victims, advocates and legislators are uniting to fight for education to prevent dating violence. The recent tragic death of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love has brought attention to the need for teen dating violence education legislation. loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, Seventeen Magazine and the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) are joining forces through Liz Claiborne Inc.’s MADE – Moms and Dads for Education to Stop Teen Dating Abuse – to ensure every middle school and high school in every state across the country teaches a curriculum about preventing dating relationship violence and abuse each year. Currently, only four states, Rhode Island, Texas, Ohio and Nebraska, have passed strong laws requiring school districts to have a dating violence policy to address incidents of dating violence at school. Please click here to read the full press release. News coverage of the tragic event is available at


Parents of Murdered Dating Violence Victims, Advocates and Legislators Unite To Fight For Education To Prevent Dating Violence

National coalition responds to recent tragic death of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love and urges parents to push for teen dating violence education legislation

New York, NY – May 5, 2010 – Today, advocates for teen dating violence education are calling on parents nationwide to take action and urge potentially life-saving legislation mandating teen dating violence education be required in their states. The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline,, Seventeen Magazine and the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) are joining forces through Liz Claiborne Inc.’s ‘MADE’ — Moms and Dads for Education to Stop Teen Dating Abuse — to ensure that every middle school and high school in every state across the country teach a curriculum about preventing dating relationship violence and abuse each year.

Currently, only four states, Rhode Island, Texas, Ohio and Nebraska, have passed strong laws requiring school districts to have a dating violence policy to address incidents of dating violence at school. Just last week, Florida legislation successfully passed that calls for teen dating violence education to be included in health curriculum for 7th-12th graders and for school district boards to adopt and implement teen dating violence policies.  Legislation is pending in ten additional states where NFWL’s women legislators and MADE advocates have been working together, but only a handful of those legislative bills are considered comprehensive, mandating updated curriculums and teen dating violence education policies.

Across the country, parents who have tragically lost their children to dating violence are making their voices heard and pushing for legislation which has been stalled or has not even been introduced in their states. Ann and Chris Burke, educators and parents of Lindsay Ann Burke who was murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend, spearheaded efforts in Rhode Island to pass the “Lindsay Ann Burke Act.” Gary Cuccia in Pennsylvania is actively fighting for the “Demi Brae Cuccia Act” which is awaiting a vote in the Senate and Bill and Michele Mitchell in Maryland have been working tirelessly to strengthen the policies in House Bill 845, “Tween and Teen Dating Violence Education.” Women legislators are supporting these parents.

“It is time for all parents to make the commitment and address teen dating violence as a serious health issue,” said Ann Burke.  “I want to show all parents and teachers that having legislation passed is possible. I want to see teens in all 50 states educated on this issue.”

“Education is the key to preventing teen dating violence,” said Sheryl Cates, CEO of loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. “Parents, friends and family members need to be aware of the warning signs of an abusive dating relationship and know where to turn for resources and help before the violence escalates to a fatal incident. Controlling behavior, verbal and emotional abuse, threatening texts and emails, isolation, hitting, pushing and slapping are all warning signs of a troubled relationship.”

“It is only through education and awareness that we will be able to combat teen dating violence and our elected women who have introduced bills are 100% committed to fighting for strong and effective legislation that will protect the teens and tweens they serve and honor the memories of the young victims who had no idea what teen dating violence was before they lost their lives to it,” stated Robin Read, NFWL’s President and CEO.

“Our recent survey shows that although 75% of teens who have been taught about dating abuse say it has helped them recognize the signs of abuse, only a quarter of the teens have ever taken an actual course,” said Jane Randel, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications for Liz Claiborne Inc. “In the wake of so many recent tragedies, it is becoming increasingly clear that something needs to be done – and that something is education. Curricula, such as Love Is Not Abuse, teach young adults to recognize the signs of abuse and how to seek help – whether they are victims themselves or watching someone else suffer. Teaching these lessons in our schools will save lives.”

“The statistics of girls in abusive relationships are shocking: 23% of our readers have dated a guy who has made them feel afraid, and 70% of girls say that they wouldn’t break up with an abusive boyfriend if they loved him,” said Ann Shoket, Editor-in-Chief, Seventeen Magazine. “Yeardley’s tragic death should be a wake up call to all girls that they need to learn how to recognize the warning signs of a dangerous relationship before they get hurt.” A few warning signs include, he gets angry when guys give you attention or when you want to do things without him; he says it’s your fault when he says hurtful things to you and he tries to control where you go, or what you wear or do.
About Loveisrespect
National Domestic Violence Hotline 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. loveisrespect 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 to chat (IM style).

About the National Foundation For Women Legislators, Inc. (NFWL)
Through annual educational and networking events, the National Foundation for Women Legislators supports women legislators from all levels of governance.   As a non-profit, non-partisan organization, NFWL does not take ideological positions on public policy issues, but rather serves as a forum for women legislators to be empowered through information and experience.

About Liz Claiborne Inc.
Since 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc has been working to end domestic violence. Through its Love Is Not Abuse program, the company provides information and tools that men, women, teens and corporate executives can use to learn more about the issue and find out how they can help end this epidemic.

Seventeen ( is the best-selling monthly teen magazine, reaching more than 13 million readers every month. In each issue, Seventeen reports on the latest in fashion, beauty, health and entertainment, as well as information and advice on the complex real-life issues that young women face every day. Readers can also interact with the brand on the digital front, with Seventeen mobile ( In addition to its U.S. flagship, Seventeen publishes 13 editions around the world. Seventeen is published by Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst Corporation ( and one of the world’s largest publishers of monthly magazines, with nearly 200 editions around the world, including 15 U.S. titles and 20 magazines in the United Kingdom, published through its wholly owned subsidiary, The National Magazine Company Limited. Hearst Magazines is the leading publisher of monthly magazines in the U.S. in terms of total circulation (ABC, Dec. 2009) and reaches 73 million adults (MRI, Fall 2009).

Susan Risdon
Tel: (512) 492-2405

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Be Smart. Be Well Campaign Educates the Public about Domestic Violence

Blue Cross Blue Shield Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas has just launched their Be Smart. Be Well campaign. The campaign aims to educate the public so they can make good healthy choices. They have put together several videos on a variety of topics such as childhood obesity, sexually transmitted diseases and domestic violence. The domestic violence section includes a lot of great information. National Domestic Violence Hotline CEO Sheryl Cates was interviewed last year for the campaign. Please click here to visit the campaign website.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Whole Foods Launches Twitter Campaign Supporting The Hotline

Whole Foods is hosting a Twitter fundraiser to support those moms who need extra love this Mother’s Day benefitting The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Whole Foods Market will donate $1 for each re-tweet (up to $10,000) of the following message: Support Moms in Need! @WholeFoods will donate $1 for each RT of this msg thru 5/9 (up to $10k) to @NDVH (Nat’l Domestic Violence Hotline). The campaign will run from May 5-9. Please click here to visit the WholeFoods Twitter page; please click here to visit The Hotline Twitter page. Be sure to support The Hotline by retweeting the message.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Book Review: Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence: A Workbook for Women

The following blog entry is written by Conrad Williams, Advocate for the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.

As a Domestic Violence Advocate, I am always searching for new material to help our callers. While browsing though Barnes and Noble one Saturday, I noticed a book I had never seen before called “Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence”, written by Edward S. Kubany, PH.D., and published by New Harbinger ($21.95). While most books focus on red flag warnings and getting out, this book focuses on staying out and moving on with your life.

This book is a very thorough manual for moving forward. Every issue is covered and broken down on a subatomic level to set up a good foundation for understanding: PTSD, Guilt, Anger, Grief and Loss (tangible/symbolic). Every chapter has some kind of exercise to gauge your current status and also your progress. Each chapter builds on the previous one in an orderly fashion like steps in a staircase.

There is so much information in the book that I fear talking about it will give away too much. I can say however that there are a couple of chapters on understanding and letting go of guilt. There are also chapters on handling current and future interactions with former partners, going back, learned powerlessness, overcoming fear, and identifying potential perpetrators.

As an advocate I’ve already recommended this book to survivors that are trying to move forward. When I mention the title to the callers who are trying to deal with moving forward, I can literally hear a sigh of relief. The title alone is a form of validation and a catalyst for taking the next step. I also recommend this book for advocates to help understand their clients and enhance their advocacy.

I also had a chance to interview the main author of the book, Edward S. Kubany, PH.D. Mr. Kubany has an extensive amount of experience working with a variety of trauma survivors: Combat Veterans, Natural Disasters, and Battered Women. His inspiration to work with battered women started with a woman that he met while teaching a class on PTSD. This particular woman worked with battered women and referred some of her clients to him.

He was approached by New Harbinger to write a book due to an article written about his form of therapy. Co Author Mari A. McCaig, MSCP is a friend and peer that has a strong background working with crime victims, and Janet R. Laconsay, MA was a Practicum Student at the time of the project.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

A Message from the Board of Directors

After careful consideration by a board search committee and by unanimous vote of the board of directors, we are honored to announce that Dyanne Purcell, former Chief Operating Officer for our organization, is the new Chief Executive Officer for the National Council on Family Violence, Texas Council on Family Violence and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Dyanne is an outstanding leader who has demonstrated unwavering commitment to the mission and success of our organization since she first arrived over 13 years ago.  She is a skilled communicator and brings 20+ years of nonprofit leadership and achievements to the CEO role.  She is skilled at board, employee, donor and government relations, financial management and executive administration.

Dyanne has dedicated over 20 years of her life to touching and changing lives of individuals through non-profit advocacy and she is a perfect fit as the next leader of our organization.   Because of her vast organizational knowledge and work in the domestic violence field there will be a seamless leadership transition.

Sheryl Cates will continue to serve the organization as CEO Emeritus through August 31, 2010.   We are immensely grateful to Sheryl for her tremendous leadership, dedication and tireless efforts to create options and positive changes for domestic violence victims and survivors.

Dyanne and the entire board remain fully committed to continuing the many important projects and initiatives currently underway and to fully supporting the work of our partners and allies in the domestic violence community.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Each April since 1981, the Office of Justice Programs has helped lead communities throughout the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) by promoting victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf.

This year’s theme is Crime Victims’ Rights: Fairness. Dignity. Respect. Communities throughout the nation are rallying in support of NCVRW. This is a time for everyone to learn about victimization, reflect on the devastating effects crime has on our community and society and to support the laws, policies and programs that aid victims of crime. Please click here to visit the official Office of Justice Programs 2010 NCVRW page.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Partner Abuse and Unintended Pregnancy: Making the Connections

The following blog entry is written by Margaret Conway

A new study sheds light on a little-recognized form of abuse in which men use coercion and birth control sabotage to cause their partners to become pregnant against their wills.

“Pregnancy Coercion, Intimate Partner Violence and Unintended Pregnancy,” published in the January issue of Contraception, is the first quantitative examination of the relationship between intimate partner violence, coercion and unintended pregnancy. It finds that young women and teens often face “reproductive coercion,” or efforts by male partners to sabotage their birth control or coerce or pressure them to become pregnant. These behaviors may include damaging condoms and destroying contraceptives.

The study of women ages16-29 years of age who sought health care at reproductive health clinics was conducted by researchers at the University of California Davis School of Medicine and the Harvard School of Public Health, in collaboration with the FVPF and Planned Parenthood Shasta Diablo.  It also finds that among women who experienced both reproductive coercion and partner violence, the risk of unintended pregnancy doubled.  The prevalence of reproductive coercion is notable:

• Approximately one in five young women said they experienced pregnancy coercion;
• 15% said they experienced birth control sabotage;
• 53%  had experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner;
• 35% of the women who reported partner violence also reported either pregnancy coercion or birth control sabotage.

Reproductive coercion takes many forms, but frequently involves a male partner’s direct interference with a woman’s use of contraception, called “birth control sabotage.” It may include removing condoms during sex to get a woman pregnant, intentionally breaking condoms, and preventing her from taking birth control pills. In addition, a male partner may threaten, coerce a woman to get pregnant (‘pregnancy coercion’), such as telling her not to use contraception and threatening to leave her if she doesn’t get pregnant.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund has an initiative called kNOwMORE to create a dialogue about birth control sabotage and reproductive coercion, which can result in unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, miscarriage, infertility, coerced abortion, poor birth outcomes including preterm birth and low birth-weight babies, and other serious health problems. The website features the stories of women who share their experiences with birth control sabotage and reproductive coercion.

“Janey” tells how her boyfriend forced her to have sex: “Every time I would confront him about his lies and unfaithfulness, he would force himself on me sexually. He always refused to wear a condom and would act offended when I suggested he use one.”  “Carollee” noticed that whole rows of pills would disappear. When Carollee called her boyfriend on the disappearing birth control, he responded that he “knew” she wanted to have his child.  “Sandi’s” boyfriend Chris pretended that his condoms had slipped or broken, when in fact he would purposely remove them.

Those of us who work to stop dating, domestic and sexual violence have long known that many victims face threats, verbal demands and physical violence designed to interfere with their efforts to use birth control. It is a big part of the reason that women in abusive relationships are at a higher risk for unintended pregnancy. This very important study underscores the link between violence and abuse and unintended pregnancy – and the need for providers at reproductive clinics to screen female patients for violence, as well as for pregnancy coercion and birth control sabotage. If we are serious about reducing unintended pregnancy in this country, we have to do more to stop violence and abuse, and help victims.

The kNOwMORE project also works to promote policies and other efforts to increase awareness about reproductive coercion among both men and women, among providers of reproductive health services, and among advocates working to end intimate partner violence, including:

• Increasing awareness among women and men, who may perceive reproductive coercion and physical violence in a relationship as different issues, and may need support and information to connect the dots between this range of behaviors and their reproductive health needs;
• Educating family planning practitioners about effective ways to identify reproductive coercion and provide interventions;
• Encouraging comprehensive sexuality education and pregnancy prevention programs to integrate information about reproductive coercion and healthy relationships.

Have you experienced reproductive coercion?  If you would like to learn more, or are willing to share your own story, please visit us at or email  Together we can help increase awareness and decrease the incidence of reproductive coercion and its negative health outcomes.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

What You Can Do Series Addresses Domestic Violence


Katie Ray-Jones, Operations Director for the National Domestic Violence Hotline recently participated in an online interview with On the Leesh Productions for their What You Can Do Series. The Series hopes to prove that our greatest issues are solvable one minute at a time. The interview focused on many interesting issues related to domestic violence including misunderstandings about domestic violence, unreported cases and statistics.  Please click here to read the whole interview. They also have created a really informative and thought provoking PSA about domestic violence, based on the one minute concept. Statistics used in the video were provided by The Hotline. Please click here to view the PSA.

On the Leesh Productions is a New York City based company devoted to the production of innovative, energetic and challenging film, theater, webseries and instructional video.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Domestic Violence and Immigration

survivorblogimageThe following blog entry is written by Lyn Twyman. She is a survivor and creator of the is a community for domestic violence advocates and organizations with a world-wide goal in mind to draw organizations, advocates and individuals together.

Domestic Violence and Immigration

I was 5 years old when I heard one of my parents frequent arguments end with a loud smacking sound.  I had just walked in the front door after the school bus had dropped me off in front of my house from a day at kindergarten to the loud yelling and arguing of my parents, unfortunately something I had grown accustomed to.  If you can imagine my father was well over 6 feet with a loud bellowing voice, my mother just under 5 feet.  With frustration and anger my father struck my mother, leaving a bright red hand mark on the left side of her fair, Asian face.  This was the first time I saw the expression of resentment and hate in my mother’s face for everything that led to that point.  That act of violence shattered the facade that my parents had built up to try to hide the truth from me, that their marriage was a sham and in no way functional.  There were deeply rooted problems within their relationship and after that moment my eyes were wide open to them.  Later I would realize there were great amounts of psychological and emotional abuse in my parent’s relationship that would be directed solely towards me.

My father was an American born in the south, a victim of abuse and neglect by an alcoholic father who was void of most emotion, except anger and depression spurred by the bottle.  My mother, the eldest of her siblings, grew up in third-world poverty with an extremely controlling mother.  In 1977, my mother started receiving pen pal letters from my father.  She became enamored with the idea of a man she had never met before, a man who promised to take care of her and give her a better life, more than what she could have ever imagined.  About a year later when my mother was 23, she immigrated to the United States.

The man who wrote such beautiful words on paper was not reflective of the man my mother met when she came to the U.S. and in less than a month, the fairy tale was over. The stark realities of the deception, lack of respect and obsession over my mother’s every movement was too much to endure. My mother however, was fearful to leave my father with the domestic violence taking place.  My father, a man ridden with personality disorders, would admit years later that his choice to marry my mother was due to the amount of “submissiveness” women like her had for their husbands and the ability to “teach” them and make them become what he wanted.

Unfortunately the story of my parents is not unique. It bares many similarities to the stories of many immigrants who find themselves in relationships where domestic violence is present.  One thing that remains consistent however, as with many instances of domestic violence,  is there is one person that seeks to have control over the other who is thought to be weaker.

Women and men have shared with me their personal experiences, and those of other immigrants who were involved in domestic violence relationships that they knew.  I began hearing similarities in the stories:

  • Victims had little interaction with people other than their partner or lived in complete isolation.
  • Victims were eventually embarrassed by their partner regarding their own language and culture.
  • Communication decreased over time with their families in their homeland.
  • Finances were controlled by the abusive partner.
  • The partner threatened to have them deported or have their children taken away from them if they showed signs of fighting back or escaping.

So many of these stories also began sounding familiar as I realized my mother had faced the same problems with my own father.

Help for Immigrants

Immigrants who are dealing with domestic violence face many challenges unlike those around them because of language and culture barriers.  Whether waiting for citizenship or seeking refugee status, immigrant victims of domestic violence do have rights and can get help to protect themselves from abuse.  There are organizations like American Immigration Lawyers Association, The National Immigration ProjectThe Tahirih Justice and specialty organizations like The Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center,  that help with direct services or referrals at little or no cost.   It is important that immigrant victims get trained advocates to support and assist them in the proper steps to make themselves and their children safer, whether the abuse is physical or not.  Another good online resource is the following link: that talks more in depth about the issue and addresses aspects of the immigration process.  Also the spouses and children of U.S. citizens can self-petition to obtain lawful permanent residency under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  VAWA also allows certain battered immigrants  to seek safety and independence from the abuser by filing for immigration relief without the abuser’s assistance or knowledge .

Domestic violence is wrong, period.  A person’s nationality does not exclude them from the physical and emotional pain that is inflicted from domestic violence.  The best thing we can do as advocates is to remember the warning signs of abuse, stay informed about the issue,  spread awareness and encourage our Federal immigration system to strengthen laws and distribute violence and abuse awareness materials, making them available in multiple languages to each person that comes to their offices and websites.

I am encouraged about the amount of work that has been done with this issue compared to my mother’s time as an immigrant but there is still much work to be done in raising awareness about the problem.  If you see someone who displays signs of being a victim, offer them in confidence the resources they can go to for help.  You will be surprised how far a bit of information and slice of humanity can go to help save a life and lead someone to new found freedom, hope and truly a much better life.

By Lyn Twyman

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

logo-01February has been designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. In the past Congress had designated the first full week of February as a prevention week and this is the first year that a whole month is dedicated to prevention efforts. loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline has put together a comprehensive resources page specially created for this month’s awareness efforts. Please click here for more information and for ways you could do your part this month.