what is safety planning

What Is Safety Planning?

Safety planning is an important aspect of how advocates at The Hotline help callers protect themselves emotionally and physically in an abusive relationship.

what is safety planning

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that can help you avoid dangerous situations and know the best way to react when you are in danger. This plan includes ways to remain safe while in the relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action, and more. We safety plan with victims, friends and family members — anyone who is concerned about their own safety or the safety of another.

Although some of the things that you outline in your safety plan may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that in moments of crisis your brain doesn’t function the same was as when you are calm. When adrenaline is pumping through your veins it can be hard to think clearly or to make logical decisions about your safety. Having a safety plan laid out in advance can help you to protect yourself in those stressful moments.

Safety planning looks different for different types of abuse. You safety plan should be tailored to your specific situation.

Physical Violence
If your partner is physically violent, identify the places in your home that are the safest — places where there are no weapons and where there is an easy escape point — and try to get there in the case of an argument. Try to avoid violence if at all possible by leaving. If leaving seems unsafe and violence is unavoidable, make yourself a small target. Go to your safe spot and curl up in a little ball, protecting your face by wrapping your arms around each side of your head and entwining your fingers.

Emotional Abuse
If your partner is emotionally abusive, stay connected to a support network. Friends and family members can be great allies in times of need and can build you up. If you feel comfortable, talking to someone about what is happening can help you stay positive. Try to stay involved in all of the activities that you love or develop new hobbies. Keep a journal of all of the good things in your life and all of the things that you like about yourself. Make a list of things that help you to relax (like taking a warm bath) and do them one by one until you feel calm and relaxed.

If you’ve left the relationship, emotional safety planning may look different than what it would be if you were still in an abusive situation. Leaving a relationship is one of the most dangerous times for victims emotionally as well — it’s normal and expected that you’ll be encountering new feelings (ex: loneliness, struggling with being uprooted, difficulty adjusting to a new life). Our advocates are here for you during this challenging time.

Safety Planning with Children
If you have children, they need to become part of your safety plan — planning for both their physical and emotional safety. If you’re in a physically abusive relationship, don’t run to them when your partner becomes violent. This could potentially put them in danger. Teach them how to get help, but instruct them not to interfere with any arguments that are happening. You can work with them to come up with a code word that will let them know when they need to leave the house or hide to protect themselves. You can also practice how to safely exit the home with them.

If you trust your friend and/or neighbors, develop a system to let them know when violence is occurring and you need help. Your kids can go to their house to stay safe, they can call the police and you can stash an overnight bag there for quick getaways. Check back on the blog in the future for more information on comprehensive safety planning with kids.

Remember that at all times, your safety is the utmost priority. If you need help safety planning, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

sexual violence media

Sexual Violence in the Media: #TweetAboutIt

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center has organized weekly #TweetAboutIt Tuesdays focused on various topics related to sexual assault. Today we joined in on the conversation hosted by reporter Tara Murtha and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape to discuss sexual violence in the media.

What’s a Twitter Chat?
A TwitChat is a conversation that takes place on Twitter, often hosted by an organization or a group with a common interest, to discuss a topic (like sexual violence in the media). There’s generally a hashtag (#) involved, so that anyone can click the hashtag, see what others are saying and follow along. Anyone can join in – simply start tweeting using the hashtag, and you’re part of the conversation. Take part in another SAAM TwitChat organized by NSVRC next Tuesday at 2PM by using the hashtag #TweetAboutIt.

http://storify.com/NDVH/sexual-violence-in-the-media-tweetaboutit

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM)

Every two minutes, someone in this country is sexually assaulted. On average there are 207,754 victims of rape and sexual assault each year.

This April, join us in acknowledging and promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Month. All across the country, people are taking a stand and promoting the prevention of sexual violence through educational speaker series, campaigns, online days of action and other events.

One of the most common misconceptions about sexual violence is that it involves a stranger. In reality, among female rape victims for example, 51.1% of perpetrators are reported to be intimate partners and 40.8% are acquaintances.

In a relationship that may be displaying signs of abuse, it’s not unlikely that sexual abuse or sexual coercion may be present. Like physical violence, sexual violence helps a batterer gain a sense of power and control. Sexual assault is any nonconsensual sexual act, physical or verbal, that goes against the victim’s will. It almost always involves a use of threat or force.

Coercion can take on many different forms. EX: Making a partner feel obligated to have sex (“Sex is the way you prove your love for me”) or reproductive coercion (tampering with or withholding birth control; pressuring you to become pregnant).

Have you or someone you know experienced any of the signs mentioned above? Call The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE to speak confidentially with an advocate. We can help you learn more about healthy relationships, consent, and types of coercion. We can safety plan with you at any stage, whether you’re questioning something going on, experiencing ongoing abuse, or otherwise.

You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at 1-877-739-3895, or use RAINN’s Online Hotline.


Educate Your Community

Advocate at your local school for further education about healthy relationships. Speak at a board meeting and hold an informational meeting with parents, teachers and others interested in the issue.

Discuss consent – with your children, with your family, with your partner. The absence of a “No” never equals a “Yes.”

Speak Out Against Sexual Violence

Make your voice heard. Join #SAAM Tweet Ups every Tuesday of the month for different discussions about child sexual abuse prevention and how adults can promote healthy development.

Donate your social media accounts to the cause. Visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center for downloadable logos, posters and images for Twitter and Facebook, education tools and other resources.

Volunteer at your local rape crisis center.

Read More

AAUW: Sexual Harassment

RAINN: Get Information

1 in 6: Info for Men

SAFER: Info about Campus Sexual Assault

Circle of 6 App: Healthy Relationships Toolkit

Men Can Stop Rape: Get Information

volunteer spotlight

Meet A Volunteer: Amalie

Here at The Hotline, much of the work we do is made possible by the dedication and effort of our volunteers. We met up with Hotline volunteer Amalie, one of our many advocates on the receiving end of the calls, to talk with her about her experience working here.


How did you become interested in advocating for victims and survivors of domestic violence?

I’ve volunteered for the past 5-6 years. I worked for a citizen review board that monitored children that had been in foster care or in homes with domestic violence — so I had seen a lot of domestic violence before in families. I knew that this was an area I wanted to pursue further.

How did you feel when you answered your first call?

I was really nervous – nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to provide the right tone, and that I was going to seem like I was nervous talking to them. I was worried that I wasn’t going to have the knowledge to give them all of the resources that they needed.

My first call turned out fine. Once you just start talking to a caller, you realize that you can find common ground, and that you’re not in completely different places. It wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be.

What aspects of your job satisfy you the most?

So many! After every phone call, I know that even if the caller doesn’t use the resources I’ve given them, at least they’ve made the phone call, which is a positive first step. Hopefully after the call they know that there’s hope for change.

I like taking the time to speak with the callers — for callers to receive any kind of validation can be huge. I am not there to fix the callers problems or tell them what’s the right path. I can only try my hardest to provide the callers with safe resources and avenues to do this, so they can gain back the quality of life and respect they deserve. If I can help the caller with this in any small way, I have been rewarded in an invaluable way.

You receive calls from family and friends who might be concerned about a loved one. What would you say to someone who’s frustrated and wondering, “Why won’t they just leave?”

It’s just not that easy. The person in the relationship can be scared. They can feel very confused. They can feel at fault. There was a reason initially that they got into that relationship or fell in love with that person.

I try to explain that they should consider giving their loved one support and space to process their feelings. The victim is already being controlled and overwhelmed by their abuser. Telling them what they should do or trying to do it for them only pushes the victim deeper into their isolation. By giving them non-judgmental support and an environment that feels safe they can be empowered to make the necessary changes through their own actions and self-discovery.

Do you receive any calls from abusers?

Yes. Regardless if the caller is an abuser, I still keep an unbiased tone. The fact that they’re calling is a positive step. Most callers that identify as abusers are seeking help. Whether that’s court appointed or they’ve seen behaviors in themselves that they want to change, I try to be supportive of that and try to find them resources in their area.

What are some common myths about domestic violence that you see regularly?

One myth is that it’s easy to leave and the women who stay are just weak. It’s so much more complicated then that. It’s a web. A victim needs to be slowly able to crawl out of it, and catch their footing. There are just so many different dynamics.

The one that really gets to me is this: the victim must have done something to initially start the abuse. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! No one should EVER justify any form of abuse in relationships. It is never okay and never the victims fault. The abuser is making a distinct choice to react to their emotions in a certain way. They could have just as easily taken a long run or left the relationship.

What message do you have for someone who is recently out of an abusive relationship?

I get phone calls from people who have been out of their abusive relationship for 15 years and they’re just calling now to seek counseling. The fact that they’re reaching out now for support is huge.

There’s a lot of trauma after leaving an abusive relationship. Whether you’re a family or friend of someone who has gone through an abusive relationship, or the survivor yourself, there are support groups out there. You do not have to endure the journey alone. It’ll take time — it’s a process.

The healing process is unpredicatable, so don’t be disheartened if some days are harder than others. Be okay with the fact that it’s not going to be easy. And allow yourself that space to acknowledge and be be aware of what you need. And it’ll be hard. If you feel sad, and feel defeated on some levels – be okay with that, and you can move on from there. By leaving your abuser you have won the biggest battle. … One foot in front of the other.

Final thoughts about your experience at The Hotline?

Volunteering here has been a really beautiful thing for me. Every time I come in here, I’m learning something myself based on how I react to different calls and the feelings I’m left with after the phone calls. These callers re-ground me constantly and I am constantly blown away the incredible strength within these women and men. I am grateful for what they’ve taught me.

history of the hotline

A Look at the History of The National Domestic Violence Hotline

With all the celebration around the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, we have the chance to look back on the history of The Hotline, which was able to take its first call because of this very legislation. Here are some of our most important dates throughout the past 20 years:

  • September 13, 1994: President Clinton signs VAWA, which authorizes the creation of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
  • August 17, 1995: The Texas Council on Family Violence receives a $1 million grant that establishes The Hotline.
  • February 21, 1996: The Hotline takes its first call.
  • October 28, 2000: President Clinton signs the reauthorization of VAWA, supporting The Hotline.
  • August 2, 2003: The Hotline takes its one-millionth call. The caller is a battered woman looking for shelter. After speaking to a local crisis line and learning that shelters are full, she remembers the number of The Hotline, calls, and an advocate helps her find a place to stay.
  • October 2005: The Hotline concludes its Connections Campaign and raises $2.7 million to build the technological capacity of The Hotline to respond to more calls and provide better service.
  • September 26, 2006: Verizon Wireless offers direct connection to The Hotline through the #HOPE Initiative — dialing #HOPE from any Verizon Wireless phone instantly connects callers to The Hotline.
  • February 27, 2006: Senator Biden leads a press conference at The Hotline to mark its 10th anniversary. He meets with advocates to talk about the technological improvements designed to help advocates respond to callers more quickly.
  • February 2006: The Hotline reaches the milestone of answering over 1.5 million calls.
  • February 8, 2007: The Hotline and Liz Claiborne Inc. announce the launch of loveisrespect.org, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (NDAH). Today, this is referred to as the National Dating Abuse Helpline (NDAH).
  • October 21, 2008: The Hotline takes its 2 millionth call.
  • April 28, 2009: Vice President Joe Biden makes a visit to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect for a press event and tour of the facilities. This is his second visit to the organizations in six years.
  • October 13, 2009: The partnership between Marshalls and The Hotline for the Shop ‘til It Stops campaign officially launches with two fundraising and awareness events in Los Angeles and New York.
  • November 22, 2010: The Hotline ranks in the ‘Top 10 Best Places to Work’ in a report conducted by the Austin American Statesman and Workplace Dynamics. The Hotline is the only social services nonprofit ranked in the top 10 winners.
  • January 27, 2011: The leader of the NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell, joins The Hotline to help bring awareness to domestic violence and to celebrate the 15th Anniversary. He joins Dallas Cowboys superstar Jason Witten, baseball great Joe Torre and others to kick off the yearlong campaign.
  • February 8, 2011: The National Dating Abuse Helpline joins forces with Break the Cycle to expand upon loveisrespect.org. This partnership creates the ultimate comprehensive online resource to engage and empower teens through dating abuse awareness.
  • September 26, 2011: loveisrespect announces the nation’s first dating abuse texting service. Vice President Joe Biden premieres the service by sending the first text to National Dating Abuse Helpline peer advocate Whitney Laas.
  • February 21, 2012: The Hotline celebrates its 16th anniversary. At this point, The Hotline currently has about 85 staff members, both paid and volunteer. Of those employees, 12 have been at The Hotline for over 10 years.
  • January 29, 2013: At a special congressional briefing, The Hotline announces they are expecting to reach a milestone nearly one year earlier than predicted — answering 3 million calls since its inception in 1996. While this is not a cause for celebration, it highlights the vital role that The Hotline continues to play in assisting victims of domestic violence.
  • March 7, 2013: President Obama reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act, with provisions that extend the protection of Native American women and members of the LGBTQ community.
  • March 8, 2013: The Hotline is the only center in the nation that has access to service providers and shelters across the U.S. Today, The Hotline continues to grow and explore new avenues of service.
what to expect when you call the hotline

What To Expect When You Call

Every call to The Hotline comes from someone different. Some callers identify as survivors of abuse, some as abusers, and some as concerned family members and friends seeking help for someone else. While every call is specific to the individual, here are some phrases and questions that advocates consistently communicate to best help each caller.

“Thanks for reaching out.”
Calling The Hotline can be nerve-racking, especially if you haven’t reached out for help before. Our calls are completely confidential and anonymous and our advocates have extensive training in domestic violence matters. Reaching out for help is the first step to improving your situation, whatever that may be. We say this line to let you know how happy we are that you’re taking the first step toward getting the help you deserve.

“Are you in a safe place to chat?”
It’s critical for your safety that you reach out when your partner isn’t home. If your partner does come home or walk in while you’re talking with an advocate, immediately disconnect the call. Because abusive relationships are based on power and control, an abusive partner is likely to react in anger as you take steps to regain control. Another way to stay safe is to remember to delete our number from your phone and clear your internet browser history after visiting our website.

“Why don’t you tell me a little bit about your situation?”
Before an advocate can begin helping you, she or he has to know your specific situation. This gives you an opportunity to bring up any concerns you’ve had about your relationship. Sometimes, giving a relationship timeline or explaining a recent altercation with your partner can give the advocate a better idea about what you’ve experienced.

“What have you considered doing at this point?”
You are the expert of your own situation. Callers reach out at all different times in their relationships, so advocates need to know what steps you’re ready to take before they can help you find resources. While an advocate won’t give explicit advice on what you should do next, you can talk out some options to make the best decision for yourself.

“How are you taking care of yourself?”
Self-wellness is important at any stage of a relationship. Especially in the matter of abusive relationships, it is easy to forget about keeping yourself healthy and happy. Taking care of yourself may be as simple as eating a good breakfast to prepare for the day or getting enough sleep at night. Advocates often suggest writing in a journal, reading a good book or taking a bubble bath to ease your mind.

“Let’s brainstorm together.”
Whether you are deciding how to communicate better with your partner, planning on leaving the relationship or finding things that you can do to feel safe, there is always more than one right answer and an advocate can help you sort through the options to determine the best one for you.

“Is there anything else I can help you with tonight?”
Maybe over the course of your conversation with an advocate, you thought of another question you had or feel more comfortable asking something you were scared to ask before. Advocates are always available to answer your questions about healthy relationships and how to handle an unhealthy or abusive relationship, so don’t hesitate to ask.

The advocates at our Hotline are available 365 days a year, 24/7 to take your calls. Read more about what types of things The Hotline can help you with here, and don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).

what can the hotline help you with

What Can The Hotline Help You With?

Dialing 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) will connect you with an advocate to speak with confidentially at any time, 24/7, 365 days a year.

The Hotline offers help to callers at any stage. Whether you’ve called before or maybe feel nervous about reaching out, it’s helpful to know what we can speak with you about and how we can assist you. We speak to everyone from people who are just slightly questioning something that might be going on with a partner, to others who need immediate assistance in an abusive situation. We also speak with survivors of abuse looking for support.

The Hotline can additionally provide help to those who aren’t personally experiencing abuse, but know someone who is, like a friend, family member, co-worker or community member. We can discuss what’s going on and provide you with resources and next steps.

Here is what else The Hotline offers:

  • Direct Connect: We can immediately put you in contact with sources of help right in your own community (We have access to over 5,000 shelters/service providers across the US). We’ll connect you with places that often can help with protective orders, counseling, support groups, legal help, and more.
  • Advocacy: In certain situations, we can advocate for a caller (ex. To get into a specific shelter program).
  • Education: We’ll provide you with info about everything from the dynamics of an abusive relationship, red flags and warning signs to look for, healthy and unhealthy characteristics of a relationship, and more.
  • Language line: We have both English and Spanish speaking staff, and access to interpretation services for over 170 different languages
  • Complete anonymity and confidentiality
  • Safety planning: We’ll talk with you about creating a “safety plan” for what to do if you find yourself in a difficult situation, or help with emotional safety planning (for instance, after ending an abusive relationship).
  • TTY line for the Deaf, Deaf Blind and Hard of Hearing: We’ve partnered with the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS) to ensure Deaf Advocates are available to callers. These advocates are available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST) by videophone (855-812-1001), instant messenger (DeafHotline) or email.

A call can be as short or as long as you would like it to be. Over 60% of our callers report this is their first call for help – if you haven’t reached out before, you’re not alone. Give us a call today to speak with one of our advocates.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

#NOMOREDay Discussion: Speaking Up Against Sexual and Domestic Violence

Wednesday March 13th marked the first ever “NO MORE Day” and the launch of the first universal symbol to end domestic violence and sexual assault. At 3PM EST, The Hotline joined a Twitter Chat hosted by NO MORE, The Joyful Heart Foundation, and Law & Order SVU’s Mariska Hargitay. The chat focused on the significance of the symbol and how it can be used, as well as methods of bystander intervention and methods of spreading awareness.

If you were involved in the Twit Chat, we’d love to hear your feedback. If not, we hope you join us next time.

On Wednesday March 13th, advocates and supporters everywhere joined together to unite their voices for the first ever No More Day. The 3PM EST TwitChat hosted by @NOMOREorg focused on the launch of the first universal symbol to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

http://storify.com/NDVH/nomoreday

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Today is NO MORE Day

Today is the very first NO MORE Day of Action. Everyone is familiar with symbols for change and hope such as the pink breast cancer ribbon and the red AIDS ribbon. Today, in communities all over the country, advocates and supporters will unite in launching the first universal symbol to end domestic violence and sexual assault. The symbol has been in the making since 2009.

NO MORE seeks to remove the shame and stigma surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault. It aims to empower bystanders to speak up and get involved. Nearly every organization working to combat domestic violence and sexual assault in the U.S. is uniting under this one symbol.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline supports NO MORE as a symbol of dedication to spreading awareness about domestic violence. This is a topic that often remains hidden in our society. With your help, we can bring the realities of domestic violence into the light and make a real change.

What will be taking place today nationwide?

  • A Congressional Briefing with Twilight’s Ashley Greene, highlighting survey results about the role of bystanders in responding to teen dating violence, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
  • Law and Order SVU’s Mariska Hargitay headlines the National press Club Newsmakers Luncheon to speak about domestic violence and assault.
  • The Washington Wizards recognize NO MORE in their game against Milwaukee Bucks at the Verizon Center and information is distributed to fans.
  • Invisible War Screenings (open to the public) – Find one near you

How can you get involved?

  • Join our Twitter chat at 3:00 PM EST with @NOMOREorg and @TheJHF (The Joyful Heart Foundation). Use the hashtags #NOMORE and #NOMOREDay
  • Instagram: NOMOREorg with the hashtags #NOMOREDay and #NOMORE
  • KNOW MORE. Go to www.nomore.org and learn the signs of domestic violence and sexual assault. Get the facts and know how to intervene safely. Request the NO MORE Toolkit.
  • Say NO MORE. Break the silence. Speak out and seek help when you see this problem in your family, your community, your workplace or school.
  • Share NO MORE. Share the NO MORE symbol with everyone you know. Facebook it. Tweet it. Pin it. Instagram it. Email it. Wear it. Help to increase awareness about the extent of domestic violence and sexual assault. Click here to shop NO MORE.
  • Ensure NO MORE. Get involved. Volunteer in your community, or donate to a local, state or national domestic violence or sexual assault organization. Visit nomore.org to find out how.
National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Meet an Advocate: Devynn

Ever wondered who is on the other end of calls to The Hotline? Meet Devynn, an advocate who has been with The Hotline since 2003. Devynn has a background in social work, anthropology and women’s studies. During our conversation, it became very clear just how passionate she is about what she does.

Q. How did you become interested in advocating for domestic violence? What brought you here?

A. It was kind of a natural progression. I was in social work for a number of years and then began teaching. But even then I was always volunteering. I volunteered in Houston when I lived there. I was actually a founding volunteer of the Houston Area Women’s Center. And then I moved to Ireland for several months to work on my dissertation for my PhD in Women’s Studies and sex trafficking. I couldn’t stay and finish, though. When I came back I started working here.

Q. What aspects of your job satisfy you the most?

A. As trite as it might sound, giving someone support when they don’t think there is any. When they get off of the phone they say, “You really listened to me. Thank you.” That’s really nice. To have someone say, “Thank you for listening. I had no one,” shows me that there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

Q. Why do you continue to advocate for domestic violence?

A. It’s important. I had an acquaintance of mine who said, “You know, you’re not going to change this. There’s always going to be domestic violence. There’s always going to be sex trafficking.” And I said, “Yeah, I can’t save the world, but at least I can make it a little bit better.” So that’s the way I look at it sometimes.

Q. What are some common myths about domestic violence that you see regularly?

A. “What did she do to push his buttons? She must have done something. You don’t just hit people or scream and yell at them. So, what did she do?” That one and the other one is, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Those are probably the most common.

Q. How do you react when someone says something like that to you?

A. I just say, it’s never that simple. And, there is no excuse for domestic violence. None.

Q. What message do you have for someone who is recently out of an abusive relationship?

A. Reach out for support… because a lot of time they’ve been so isolated. Their abuser has pushed all of their friends away. Their family won’t talk to them. I usually talk about trying to reestablish connections and trying to get involved in whatever they think they can do. And take care of themselves. A lot of times they’re so disconnected that they don’t know where to start. I’ll just tell them to start with a support group at their local program so they can talk to people.

Q. What advice do you give to a teenager who is in their first relationship?

A. I talk to them about peer pressure and about how sometimes people are in a relationship just because it’s cool or because their friends think that he’s a cool guy. They think that if they leave this relationship they’ll never have anyone else. I take that seriously. I talk to them about the kind of relationship that they have with their parents, or if they have another adult that they feel comfortable talking to. I try to tell them that domestic violence doesn’t just happen to older people – it can happen to anyone. I try to give them websites to look at and always let them know about The National Dating Abuse Helpline.

Q. What are some reasons that people give for their hesitance to call The Hotline?

A. Some people think that regardless of what we say that we’re not really anonymous — that we’re going to turn them into CPS or that we’re going to send out the police or that somehow their abuser is going to know that they called. I try to assure them that we are an anonymous, confidential hotline. Now, if they give us information about child abuse and give us details we are required by law to report it, but we explain that. They think that we’re going to call immigration. Or sometimes they want to make sure they don’t get someone in trouble. I just tell them that they aren’t getting their partner in trouble –  their partner is doing that all on their own. I tell them that it’s common for an abuser to blame their victim for their actions. Also, a lot of times people call and say, “Well this isn’t domestic violence because he’s just yelling at me.” They don’t understand that domestic violence has all of these different dimensions to it. Or that no one else believes them, so why would we. People will say, “You’re going to think I’m crazy if I tell you this.” I say, “Go right ahead. That’s what abusers often tell their partners. I’m not here to judge, I’m just here to listen.”

 

Advocates like Devynn are on the frontlines of our organization. They are the people that you speak with when you call, they listen to you when you need support and they connect you with resources when you’re in need.

If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic violence and wish to speak with an advocate, please give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

a day in the life of an advocate

A Day in the Life

It was summer in Austin, Texas and the temperature was hovering close to three-digits. Mary, an advocate at The Hotline who has been with the organization for five years, was sitting in her cubicle. The air conditioner was blowing but she could still feel the heat blaring in from the full-length windows to her left.

She had been at work for the past seven hours and was counting down the minutes until the end of her shift. By then, she’d answered close to 30 calls from people seeking support, information and aid. She was tired and emotionally drained.

She looked at the print of a landscape that she has pinned to her gray cubicle wall and put her head in her hand. She imagined that the white noise (created by a discretely hidden machine across the room) was the sound of the river pictured in her landscape.

Her phone rang and she was pulled back into reality. She took a deep breath. She answered.

The caller was an adult woman in her mid-thirties. She lived somewhere on the upper east coast in a home that she bought and paid for herself. She had a good job and was proud of her life. She described herself as being strong in her faith.

The caller explained that she had been dating her boyfriend for several months. “Well, kind of dating,” she said.

Mary asked what she meant by “kind of.”

The caller told Mary that she would describe their relationship as dating, but that her partner often minimized the relationship. He told her that she wasn’t his girlfriend and that they weren’t together. The caller told Mary that even though her partner said these things, he asked her to spend the night on a regular basis, got jealous when she talked to other men and called her all the time. She was confused.

Mary asked the caller why she thought that her partner was saying these things to her when he was clearly acting in a way that contradicted them.

The caller explained that she refused to sleep with her partner and that had angered him. She said that she felt uncomfortable, like she was violating her faith, engaging in sexual relations with a man that she was not committed to. She didn’t know if she should sleep with him because they are dating – if doing so would change his attitude – or if she should continue to abstain.

Mary told her that her feelings were completely justified and that she shouldn’t do anything that she was uncomfortable with. She explained that what the caller was describing sounded a lot like controlling behavior. She told the caller that her partner might be minimizing the relationship in order to convince her to sleep with him. She then took time to explain the dynamics of relationships – abusive relationships in particular –  and talk with the caller about other things that were happening in the relationship.

After spending 15 minutes on the phone with Mary, the caller sounded more confident and comfortable in her relationship. She told Mary that she understood that her partner was attempting to manipulate her by making their relationship seem less than it was. She understood that that manipulation was a sign that her relationship was unhealthy.

She thanked Mary for speaking with her and then ended the call.

Most calls that Mary takes aren’t straightforward or easy. She deals with pain and anger and sadness on a daily basis. She fights shrinking domestic violence program budgets and long waitlists at shelters every day as she tries to find aid for callers. After all of the adversity that she faces, hearing a caller tell Mary that “she is awesome” is something that she will hold on to.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

A Special Thank You for VAWA

Today President Obama signed the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the very piece of legislation that allowed us to take our very first call. We are so grateful to the national leaders and decision makers, advocates and all involved in the re-authorization.

Here is a video of our advocates saying a special thank you:

About VAWA:

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of legislation that seeks to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States.

The passage of VAWA in 1994 has changed the landscape for victims who once suffered in silence. Victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking have been able to access services, and a new generation of families and justice system professionals has come to understand that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking are crimes that our society will not tolerate.

Here’s a link to our official press release.