My name is Deborah Petersen, and I was in an abusive relationship for three years. Things were going along fine for about a year and a half, but then the abuse started. It was mental and verbal at first before progressing to controlling behavior and physical abuse. Over time the abuse grew in both frequency and severity.
In the beginning, I didn’t know exactly what was wrong. I blamed myself. I turned to online resources for help and found The Hotline’s website. I made numerous visits to the site, at first reading the section defining abuse, and soon I realized and accepted that I was being abused.
I learned how abuse often increases over time. I recognized the signs of escalating danger in my own relationship and used the website’s information on safety planning, including keeping a packed bag hidden in my car in case I needed to make a quick escape. When the violence finally did escalate, I called the police and had my partner arrested.
I found myself in the car, leaving town to stay with family, and I picked up the phone and called The Hotline. I knew they would be there when I needed to talk, and they were. What I got from talking to them on the phone that day was a level of understanding I had never had before, a level that my friends and family couldn’t provide. They understood exactly where I was and what I was going through — as opposed to being on the outside looking in.
This is what The Hotline’s advocates do for thousands of victims and survivors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Just one phone call can change someone’s life. It certainly changed mine.
I am proud to be a regular donor to The Hotline because I want to help make sure someone is always available to answer the phone when a victim needs help. I know firsthand what a world of difference that call can make.