National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Teen Mom Features The Hotline

A recent episode of Teen Mom showed a family experiencing domestic violence. Teen parents Catelynn and Tyler have a unique situation. Catelynn’s mom April and Tyler’s dad Butch got married after Catelynn and Tyler started dating in middle school. Butch has been physically and emotionally abusive to April prior to this incident.

In the episode, April called Tyler to alert him to an incident that involved Butch assaulting her after suspecting that she was talking  to another man. Butch was arrested, and April told Tyler that she was unsure of their future together. Tyler and Catelynn were immediately concerned and rushed over to April to find out what happened.

Photo from mtv.com, Tyler at Catelynn from a previous episode

As the episode progressed, it became clear that the evening was incredibly violent, leaving April with bruises and pain. Butch had violated a “no contact” order in coming over to April’s home.

Despite the horrible details of the assault, April didn’t place all of the blame on Butch. She was quick to mention that Butch wasn’t himself because of drugs and alcohol. She told Tyler, “I really can’t say that I’m gonna leave him or anything like that because I really don’t know. He wasn’t there, dude, it wasn’t your dad.”

She also maintained hope that he will change, saying, “I honestly think if he’ll do his time, the drinking and the drugging is going to stop.”

Sadly, at The Hotline, we know that experiences like April’s are all too common. It’s not unusual for abusive partners to be extremely jealous, and accuse their partners of cheating, even when that is so far from the truth. We know that children and teens are dealing with the aftermath of abuse every day in their homes, just like Tyler and Catelynn.

April had a hard time deciding what to do in her relationship. An issue that complicated April’s decision-making process is Butch’s substance abuse. Again, this is an issue that is all too common in abusive relationships, and it makes it challenging to understand why someone becomes violent.

A common misconception is that using alcohol and drugs can make someone ‘lose control’ and hurt those around them. Even if Butch was able to get clean and sober, it’s likely that he would still be controlling and abusive. Alcohol and drug use can make abusive situations worse, but it doesn’t cause a non-abusive, non-controlling person to become violent.

Just as April said, it’s very likely that when Butch attacked her, he looked like a different person than the person she fell in love with. But, despite his drug use, Butch was still responsible for how he hurt April. Naturally, April wants to see Butch get the help that he needs so that she can be in a healthy, safe relationship with him, but he would need to accept responsibility for his substance abuse and his controlling and abusive behavior and be committed to getting help for both in order to change. Getting help for substance abuse and domestic violence would require a lot of personal accountability and determination.

When an abusive partner is using drugs or alcohol, there is an increased risk of severe physical violence. It’s really important to be aware of how the substance use affects their behavior. Do they become more aggressive or violent when they’re using or when they’re in withdrawal? This can help survivors know the risks of a situation and take steps to become safer in the moment.

If you have some concerns about similar issues happening in your relationship, you can always call The Hotline to talk. An advocate at The Hotline can help you think about what’s going on in your relationship, what the risks are to your safety and your children’s safety, and what you can do to stay safe.

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Teacher Donates Cell Phone Penalty to The Hotline

At The Hotline, we are moved by the men and women who support our work in protecting victims of domestic violence. A few weeks ago, we received a special letter containing a donation. It was from a college professor and it came with a generous financial contribution. The professor wished to remain anonymous. The letter read,

“With growing frustration over cell phones ringing in my classroom, I decided to turn the distraction into something more positive. I told my students at the beginning of the semester that each time their cell phone rang in class, they would be asked to donate $5 to your program. I then passed a collection jar at the end of the semester, and this gift was the end result. I hope you can put it good use.”

We circulated the letter through our office and smiled as we read it. It’s such a simple but creative way to make a difference. This model of giving can be replicated by all of us, in finding ways to connect our daily lives to the issues we care deeply about.

Thank you, Professor, for teaching a valuable lesson on charity to your students and us.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Finding Resources in Your Area

We often get callers who aren’t sure what services are available to them. They feel alone and that they lack options. We can connect them to resources in their local area to help them in their time of need.

The Hotline is a national service available to anyone. Our advocates can talk through specific situations, provide feedback and connect callers to vital resources. Our goal is to help survivors and their family members and friends understand the dynamics of power and control in abusive and unhealthy relationships. We also help create safety plans, or outlines of what to do in certain situations, that are both practical and effective for someone experiencing abuse.

We maintain a database of over 4,000 domestic violence programs. These programs vary from state-to-state and even from community-to-community on what services they offer and how they offer them. We use this database to give callers information about what resources are available to them in their communities. We can even connect callers to those services immediately.

There are some very common trends among these programs. Most programs offer:

  • Some type of emergency shelter for survivors who are in immediate danger — this is typically short-term housing in a communal setting at a secure location
  • Counseling and/or support groups
  • Legal advocacy — especially advice in how to file a protective order or handling court appearances
  • Community advocacy — they can help connect survivors with other programs in the community that can help rebuild their lives like childcare, employment resources and permanent housing
  • Transitional housing — this is longer term housing, such as apartments that are available for one or two years

Some, but not all, community programs also offer:

  • Battering intervention programs for abusers
  • Assistance for immigrants to self-petition their immigration status under VAWA
  • Customized or culturally specific services for communities of color, deaf, LGBTQ survivors and teens

If you’re unsure of the services which are available in your community, give us a call. We can help you locate and learn about the resources that are at your disposal.