Tips for Safely Reaching Out for Support

This post was written by advocate Lauren C.

Graphic with yellow background of a cell phone with a caution symbol on its screenBeing in a relationship should not mean you lose your right to privacy or your right to talk to whomever you like. But in an abusive relationship, an abusive person may isolate their partner from sources of support. This is often done by checking their partner’s call log and text history or denying their partner the right to a phone.

Reaching out for support when you’re in an abusive relationship is scary, especially if there are barriers to having a safe phone. If you are having trouble finding a safe way to communicate with others for support, below are some options to consider:

  • Semi-Safe Phone: If you do have a phone that you use but you are concerned your partner sees your messages or call history, you could selectively delete texts and phone calls. Also, you could clear your search history on a smartphone so your abusive partner cannot see what websites you have visited. Additionally, if you have a family member or friend you trust, you can work out a plan with them where you decide on a code word that you’ll text them when you need help. When that person receives that message containing the code word, they’ll know to take some agreed upon action to help you, like calling the police or picking you up at a certain location.
  • Trusted Loved One or Neighbor: If you do not have access to a safe phone, there may be someone you trust who will let you use their phone to safely call for support.
  • Phone Not Connected to Service Provider: Sometimes an abusive partner will cut off their partner’s cell service. Even if the phone doesn’t have service to make general calls, it will call 911. Keeping it charged and near you will give you a way to call 911 in an emergency. If you have a smartphone, you may also be able to use the internet on the phone by connecting to wifi. If your home doesn’t have wifi, going to your local library, community center or coffee shop could be a way for you to reach out for support online.
  • Internet: There are services such as Google Voice (only available in the U.S.) or Skype that allow you to call someone via the internet. Keep in mind that Google Voice doesn’t work for all 1-800 numbers, but Skype is able to connect with most of them. Facebook also allows you to call other users you are friends with using wifi.
  • Secret Phone: If it is safe for you to do so, consider getting a phone your abusive partner doesn’t know about. You could keep it at work, with a trusted friend or family member, or in another safe place your partner won’t have access to. There are affordable pay-as-you-go phones which you could purchase and add minutes to when you need them. Another option is Verizon Hopeline, which provides free, refurbished cell phones to survivors through local domestic abuse centers. Safelink is also an option for low-income individuals to receive free phones and minutes.
  • Community Phones: Local community centers and libraries may have pay phones or public phones you can use. If you live in an apartment complex with a business center, it may offer you a safe way to reach out. Online searches can help you locate pay phones in your area as well.

When you feel safe and ready to reach out for help, don’t forget that Hotline advocates are here to support you 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233, or you can chat live here on our website between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time.

32 replies
  1. Melissa says:

    [Admin note: This comment has been edited for safety per our community guidelines]

    I need help. i own my home and i allowed my boyfriend to move in with me … and for the 2 years of crazyness with the police being called for arguments and everything else i am so done….

    Is there any place for financial assistance maybe so i can evict or eject him from my life. Does any one have any suggestions for me … because i am about ready to sell my house and move to another state… cuz i dont have to let him come with me and he cant stop me from selling the house…. But honestly i love my home and i dont want to do that .

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hello Melissa,

      Thank you for reaching out to us. We removed much of your comment due to potentially identifying details, but this sounds like a very scary situation to be in. Your partner’s behavior is unacceptable, and we’re so sorry that you have not found the support you need. We encourage you to contact us whenever you feel safe and ready to do so by calling 1-800-799-7233 or chatting here on our website from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central time. Our advocates will be able to help you plan next steps to keep yourself safe and possibly locate some resources in your area that can help.

      Reply
  2. anonymous says:

    I would like a convenient email I can share my story and talk to an advocate…my only access is thorough work computer…Please advise

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hi anonymous,

      Thank you for reaching out to us. We enourage you to contact an advocate through online chat, which is available via this website from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central time (8 a.m. to 3 a.m. Eastern). Just click the red “Chat Now” button at the top of any page on the website to begin a chat with an advocate. We hope to hear from you soon.

      Reply
  3. Paige Gartin says:

    This is a great article. We are freshman at Wilkes University and we are doing a group project on domestic violence. We feel that it is important to reach out when you feel that you or someone you love is being abused. Is there any way that we can raise awareness to our community?

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hi Paige,

      Thanks for reading! We’re glad to hear you want to raise awareness about this issue in your community. You might want to check out loveisrespect.org for more info related to dating abuse among young adults and ideas for getting involved.

      Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hi Shaquana,

      Thanks for reaching out to us – that takes a lot of courage. It’s understandable to feel afraid if you are dealing with an abusive relationship. We’re definitely here to help in any way we can. Whenever you feel safe and ready to do so, please contact us at 1-800-799-7233 or chat here on our website between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time to speak confidentially with an advocate.

      Reply
  4. Kelljell says:

    I am a survivor and have noticed my new boyfriend showing signs of controlling behaviour so for my protection I have looked up some useful apps just in case that I may not be over reacting from my past relationship. And I feel they might be useful for others in an abusive relationship. The apps are 911 shake to call. And panic which allows you to preload 8 friends and family members contact info straight from your phone. I went as far as letting my 8 people know that if they get a panic message don’t come to the location just send the police. This will also work well for other situations as well but I believe people on here would get great use of these apps. Stay safe everyone and you can survive this I did and I never thought I would get away. That was 28 years ago and I became myself again……happy.

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hi Kelljell,

      Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your story. While we haven’t vetted these apps, we’re so glad that you’ve found what works for you! We appreciate your kind and supportive words for other survivors and wish you the best. We’re always here if you ever need us.

      Reply
      • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

        Hi Tondra,

        Our project, loveisrespect, has a texting option that will connect you with an advocate. Just text “loveis” to 22522.

        Reply
  5. James says:

    [Admin note: This comment has been edited for safety per our community guidelines]

    I am deaf man. I lived roommate with deaf lady.
    I lived at them for one year yet, but I still too suffer from them kept treat on me for no reason so I want to leave, but I am stilling in struck,because of them kept watch over at me all the times that is why! They don’t care about my health condition that is true honestly!
    I need someone help me moved out of that problem roommate and bring me to shelter for awhile
    That’s why! I am being suffer in abused inside my head become much real headace.

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hello James,

      Thank you for your comment. We are so sorry to hear that you are being treated this way. We may be able to locate some resources for your situation. I encourage you to reach out to us directly whenever you feel safe doing so. You may contact us by calling 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or by video phone at 1-855-812-1001 (Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time). Our online chat service is available daily between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time.

      Reply
  6. Faye says:

    I live every day in fear.. He could go off any second. .I can never please him or do anything right.. I’ve been diagnosed with MS but he refuses to believe my own neurologist telling him and showing him facts… I’m scared

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hi Faye,

      Thank you for reaching out. It sounds like you are in a very scary and difficult situation, and we’re so sorry to hear that your partner is mistreating you and not supporting you after your diagnosis. We’d be happy to help in any way we can. To speak confidentially with an advocate, please call us at 1-800-799-7233 (24/7) or chat here on our website between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time.

      Reply
  7. AC says:

    I just wrote earlier. It is seven my time, and I am trying to find the “chat” icon, but to no avail. Please help, or send me a link through email, please, and thank you.

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hi AC,

      I’m so sorry the chat service was not available. You are so brave to reach out for help, and I hope you will consider trying again via chat between the hours of 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time. If you have access to a safe phone, you are also welcome to call us at 1-800-799-7233 any time.

      Reply
      • Eva says:

        Hi, thank you for the wonderful help you’re offering to people in need. I noticed that you’re giving times of service in the Central time zone. Some people might also need to have the hours given in their time zone and may not know what they are, or how to calculate the difference. It would be helpful to post them all. Thank you.

        Reply
        • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

          Hello Eva,

          Thank you for your kind words and your suggestion. We have added links to the site so that visitors can find their respective time zones.

          Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hi Sylvia,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s totally understandable to feel afraid, especially if you are in a scary situation with your partner. Reaching out for help takes a lot of courage, and just reading our blog and leaving a comment shows that you are already taking some brave steps. That’s amazing! If you feel safe and ready to do so, we encourage you to get in touch with us by calling 1-800-799-7233 any time or chatting here on our website between 7 a.m and 2 a.m. Central time. Our services are totally confidential, and we are here to help in any way we can.

      Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hi Mandy,

      It’s very brave of you to reach out for support. If you have concerns about a relationship and would like to speak confidentially with one of our advocates, please call 1-800-799-7233 any time or chat here on our website between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time.

      Reply
  8. TCheek says:

    [Admin note: This comment has been edited for safety per our community guidelines]

    I’ve been trying to use the live chat option… Not working. Possible different time zone. I need help. I’m a house wife…2 weeks ago (payday) my husband was in a 3 hour drug nod, the first time I’ve seen him do that, I took several pictures. This pay I’m finding out that bills weren’t paid…including rent! … I need help.

    Reply
      • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

        Hi TCheek,

        Thanks for your comment – I’m sorry the chat service was not available to you! We offer live chat from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central time every day. I encourage you to reach out during those hours, or if you have access to a safe phone, you can call 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233.

        Reply
  9. Margie Downey says:

    Sorry, I mistyped a note above. Our DVP charity is Abigail’s Archangels Domestic Violence Prevention. I had “protection” of victims on my mind and used that word subconsciously. Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hi Margie,

      Thanks so much for sharing your story! We’re always here to help with safety planning, and that includes finding ways to use technology safely.

      Reply
  10. Margie Downey says:

    This is a terrific phone safety plan for being connected, having usable lifelines, and yet protecting the victim/ survivor while action plans are being put in place for her. At our events and in person with clients, this has been a concern with our clients, too. University students may be willing to pick up information and ask questions, but were afraid at our events to have any internet paths showing they were seeking solutions to violence, paths their abusers might discover and make life worse. Likewise, senior citizens being abused by caregivers or spouses were afraid of trails, also, and kept resources hidden. As founder of Abigail’s Archangels Domestic Violence Protection and a successful survivor/ overcomer of domestic violence, I remember having to keep my escape resources hidden from my abuser under bathroom shelf paper, as I developed my plan over months. Thank you for this important blog and very appropriate tips in it. We agree with you.

    Reply
    • HotlineAdmin_BR says:

      Hi Julie,

      Thank you for reaching out to us – that takes a lot of courage. We’re here to support you. Whenever you feel safe enough to do so, please call us at 1-800-799-7233 or chat here on our website between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time.

      Reply

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