A Conversation with a Hotline Advocate: Paula

A Conversation with a Hotline Advocate: Paula

“Knowing that there’s someone on the other end of the phone, I think that makes a big difference in a lot of survivors’ lives.” – Paula M.

Paula has been answering the phones as an advocate at The Hotline for 18 years. This holiday season, she is sharing thoughts about her work and why she’s thankful for those who support The Hotline.

In 1998, when I came to the National Domestic Violence Hotline as an Americorps volunteer, I had no idea that I was a survivor, too. The father of my children was a wonderful provider, but I still knew something wasn’t right when the emotional abuse periodically escalated to physical violence.

Growing up, I would see members of my family being abused. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t know what to do. No one talked about it, so I thought it was normal, but it still didn’t feel good.

When I listened in on the lines, I started to hear my story.

“He’s calling me names. He’s making me feel stupid.”

I now had a name for pain and hurt I experienced: domestic violence.

I knew then I wanted to be a part of helping people from the darkness to the light. After my Americorps volunteer duties were complete, I became a Hotline advocate, and I’ve been answering the phones ever since.

Because of your support, The Hotline is open 24/7. As a survivor, this means so much to me because I remember my own long, restless nights when I felt so hopeless with no one to talk to who would listen. Every day before I come to work, I hope I can make a difference in at least one person’s life. I want to let victims know there is a way out, even when it feels like their situation is so deep and so dark.

Thank you for paving the path to safety so that victims and survivors don’t have to stay silent. With your support, they will have someone on the other end of the line — someone who will listen. I’m so thankful I get to be one of those people.

Together, we can give survivors hope and end domestic violence. Please make a gift today to help ensure that when a survivor is ready to speak, someone at The Hotline is here to listen.

Comment section

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

    I’m in a lesbian relationship and it’s extremely difficult!! I really feel like I have lost myself. I fear, everyday, what she is going to do to me and say to me. She will say and do anything to hurt me. She will never even sit in the same room as me!! She will not help around the house. She barely helps with bills for household things. She is always yelling and screaming at me. Constant lies!! … She don’t care about anything but being abusive to me!!! Tonight for instance, I was in bathroom on toilet and she kept kicking the door open, i would shut door but she just kept kicking it down, knocking stuff off walls and then while I was still on toilet she came and pressed against me with her fists clenched. It’s to the point I just look at her and tell her to go for it!!! She may work when she wants to, comes here and puts on pj’s and lays down in bed. Watches TV and plays games on her cell phone as I sit here in another room alone. The names, violence, put downs, yelling and breaking my things, she even goes through everything I own if she is here and I am not. She helps herself to whatever she wants. She tells me it’s all hers!!! I own this home, the police come, I’m told to stay in my bedroom so then I can’t use bathroom, can’t even go in to my kitchen. She is told to stay in living room…..she tells them she will be leaving in the morning but never does. When they leave, of course I get more abuse, I even have tried to put a dresser behind door and she moves it!!! I wish I knew someone to put a locking doorknob on my bedroom!!! Tonight, even as sick as I am with pneumonia, I must stay in my living room on the couch while she has my bedroom with a nice big bed and TV, everything she could want!!! The cops have seen marks on me and refuse to do anything. They will never take a report or even take our names, I’m sure they know our names by now!! I was left to die a few times already. My house, I’m disabled, I’m told I would have to legally evict her. I don’t have the money!!! I’m stuck in this MISERY!!!!

    1. Hi Cathy,

      Thank you for sharing your story here. This sounds like an incredibly frustrating and difficult situation. We’re so sorry your partner is choosing to behave this way, and that you have not found the support you need. You absolutely deserve to be in a loving, mutually caring and respectful relationship. We’d like to help in any way we can. Whenever you feel safe and ready to do so, please contact us by calling 1-800-799-7233 or chatting here on our website from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central time.

  2. [Admin note: This comment has been modified for safety per our community guidelines]

    My husband and I we were classmate in high school… After we lost contact, I went to college and we had separate life. We reunited later while I was in vacation with my daughter. We started a relationship I went back after my vacation. We have a long distance relationship. He brought his to live with me. When he called, I didn’t answer or to busy to answer because I’m a physician, he got mad , pretending I was talking to someone else. He bagged me to come to live with him. To make it work, I quit my job, brought my daughter and his son to live with him. After the first week we have a big fight for a phone call I received from a old friend. He treated me of wore, rip the marriage authorisation we got 2 days before, broke things in the house. I left the house, went to my cousin and brought a fly to go back home. He bagged me, asked for forgiveness I went back with him, we got married. After that my misery start, I can’t talk to anyone even my family, he tracked my phone to see call and text, he physically abuse me, kick me, I felt on the floor, put his hand on my throat, slap me. He said he will have me deporded. I make a plan with a friend to called me to say my mom is sick so he can let me go back , with the tracker on my phone he intercepted the conversation. One night he slapped me, I had blood on my mouth, I yelled for neighbors to call police, nothing. When he went to work in the morning my friend ask me to go to police, he got arrested. After he seemed calm, the process took 6 months, I didn’t press charges, he applied for me and my daughter to have a green card. After the case was dismissed he became more violent and cancel his application. My daughter already started school, I didn’t know what to do, I had no money, nothing. I went to see an advocate for domestic violence, explained me about shelter. I went to a DV shelter . While I’m there I find a lawyer to apply for a green card, the process still pending. Now I’m still in shelter, totally depressed, I don’t have anything money, I can’t work, I don’t have work permit. I cry all the time, I don’t know what to do. My immigration lawyer says we can’t do anything but wait. My daughter had a good life. Now, we both in a small room in the shelter with other families. I need counselor to talk, can you help me. I can’t sleep, I had nightmares. I’m anxious all the time and afraid to walk on the street

    1. Hello,

      Thank you for sharing your story with our community. What has happened to you is so heartbreaking, and you never deserved any of this abuse. We would be happy to help in any way we can. Please contact us directly whenever you feel safe and ready to do so. You can call 1-800-799-7233 anytime or chat online here on our website from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central time (8 a.m. to 3 a.m. Eastern).

  3. [Admin note: This comment has been modified for safety per our community guidelines]

    I’m in i know in my heart that im being abused.but why do i feel like its me causing this. He is so good at playing the victim and i always second guess myself. I have to.hide the marks and bruises on a weekly basis. What is wrong with me that i cant leave? I filed domestic violence and i feel guilty about it. He has tore a strong independent woman to now feel useless. I.haven’t talked to anyone and i just want help or he is gonna kill me or im gonna be so depressed that im going to kill myself. Just for the record im not suicidal. Someone please help me

    1. Hi Laila,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s so brave to reach out for help when you know you are in an abusive relationship. This is absolutely not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you; your partner is choosing to behave this way, and there is nothing you could possibly do to deserve it. We are here for you if you would like to talk through your situation. Our services are totally free and confidential, so please reach out whenever you feel safe and ready to do so. Just call 1-800-799-7233 any time, or chat here on our website between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time.

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