4M-blog

4 Million Voices: Giving Hope to Survivors of Domestic Violence

by Katie Ray-Jones, CEO

 

This month, The Hotline answered its four millionth contact, which is one of four million conversations that our advocates have had with victims and survivors of domestic violence in need over the last 20 years. From my perspective, that number represents a large population of people hurting, and it reinforces that there is still work to be done. On the other hand, that number also represents the courage of so many people seeking help and resources.

To commemorate this milestone, we created the audio piece embedded in this post. You’ll hear examples of stories our advocates hear on a daily basis, representing the difficult realities of millions of people in our communities, and the hope we provide when they courageously choose to reach out.

Read the full post on Medium.

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Katie-in-DC

Promoting Women’s Safety & Empowerment at the United State of Women Summit

Contributed by Lynn Rosenthal, vice president of strategic partnerships

Imagine 5,000 women and supportive men gathered in Washington, DC to celebrate the progress women have made and explore the challenges yet to come. That was the intense energy at last week’s United State of Women Summit convened by the White House Council on Women and Girls. Headlined by President Obama and Vice President Biden, the summit covered key gender equity issues including gender-based violence, women and the economy, entrepreneurship and innovation, and women’s leadership and civic engagement. Rob Valente, The Hotline’s chief officer of government affairs, and I represented The Hotline in both planning and presenting at the summit.

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Photograph of football player Brandon Marshall with his mother Barbara standing next to each other with their hands on a silver football helmet

Support Moms & Families with Barbara & Brandon Marshall

Barbara Marshall, mom of Denver Broncos linebacker and Super Bowl champion Brandon Marshall, knows how devastating domestic violence can be.

When Brandon was 10 years old, his father was arrested for domestic violence. He and his older brother, Marcus, lived with Barbara in a shelter for 26 days. She worked two jobs to support them. It was a difficult time, and Barbara says she couldn’t have persevered without the love and support of her family, particularly her father and her brothers. “Family is important to me. That’s what helped me and my boys get through,” she says.

Brandon, Barbara and Marcus Marshall

Brandon, Barbara and Marcus Marshall

However, Barbara knows that not everyone has that kind of support. “There’s a stigma,” Barbara says of domestic violence. “So many of us feel ashamed. I just want to tell people, don’t give up. It might seem dark, but you can get through it. There’s hope.”

Brandon Marshall

She and Brandon recognize organizations like The Hotline that serve victims and survivors, many of whom are mothers, every day. “It gives women a voice and a chance to seek help when they feel they have nowhere else to turn,” says Barbara. “It can save lives!”

This Mother’s Day, please support mothers and families across the country by making a gift to The Hotline.

Click here to make your gift and choose a unique Mother’s Day e-card to send to a special mom in your life!

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The Hotline Receives National Crime Victim Service Award

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) announced that the National Domestic Violence Hotline is receiving a National Crime Victim Service Award. This award recognizes individuals and organizations from across the nation that are leading efforts to advance victim services and victims’ rights.

Hotline CEO Katie Ray-Jones was in Washington, DC to accept the award on behalf of the more than 200 staff members who work every day to shift power back to those affected by relationship abuse. “We do this work for the survivor who told an advocate, ‘I have been afraid to ask for help for 16 years. This is the first time I have reached out…It gives me hope I never thought could be.’ We do this work so that someone is there the first time and every time a person reaches out for support,” she said.

OVC_Award

From left to right: Joye E. Frost, Director, Office for Victims of Crime; Karol V. Mason, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs; Loretta E. Lynch, Attorney General of the United States; Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline

The Hotline, which is commemorating 20 years of service this year, operates as a 24/7 lifeline for victims and survivors of domestic violence nationwide. Since 1996, we have answered over 3.8 million calls, chats and texts from those seeking support, resources and hope. In 2015, The Hotline opened an office in Washington, DC, to expand our digital services capabilities and establish a base from which to advocate for policies that protect and support survivors. We continue to explore innovative ways to increase our outreach, particularly to underserved communities.

The Hotline would like to congratulate our fellow 2016 award winners and express our deepest thanks to the Office for Victims of Crime for their ongoing support and recognition. Together, we will continue to work toward a world where all relationships are positive, healthy and free from violence.

Watch the OVC’s tribute video for The Hotline:

20th-blog

The Hotline Commemorates 20 Years of Service

quote1In February 1996, The Hotline answered its first call from a woman seeking resources and information about domestic violence. Twenty years later, we have answered more than 3.5 million calls, chats and text messages from people affected by abuse. This year we are on track to receive our 4 millionth call, a milestone that serves as a reminder of how far we’ve come and how much work is left to do.

Though we are ready to face our future, this month we are reflecting on what we have accomplished over the past two decades:

Twenty years ago, a phone call was the only option for reaching The Hotline. Today, technology has created opportunities to develop our services in the evolving digital space. We can now safely reach more people through live chat and texting, and we will continue exploring additional ways to expand our digital services.

Education and prevention are the keys to ending domestic violence. Through loveisrespect, our project with Break the Cycle, we engage, educate and empower young people to build healthy relationships and stop abusive relationship behaviors before they start.

quote2Last year, The Hotline opened a digital services office in Washington, DC, where our team also informs policy on The Hill to further protect victims while bringing domestic abusers to justice.

Our vision is to answer every call for help and ensure victims have the protections they need to leave an abusive relationship as safely as possible.

We could not do this work without the commitment and generosity of our staff, partners and donors. Every contribution has a meaningful impact on the future of this organization. We offer our heartfelt thanks to all who support The Hotline’s efforts as we look forward to a world where domestic violence doesn’t exist.

To learn more about The Hotline’s 20th anniversary events, please click here.

thanksgiving-2015

What We’re Thankful For…

thanksgiving-2015As Thanksgiving approaches, we wanted to take a moment to express what we’re thankful for at The Hotline:

We are thankful for the brave survivors, friends and family members who reach out to us every day. Their strength and courage is inspiring, and it is an honor to provide information, resources and comfort in their darkest hours.

We are thankful for the amazing advocates who answer phones, chats and texts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Their dedication and compassion is truly at the heart of this organization.

We are thankful for our friends in the movement to end domestic violence and dating abuse, and for their tireless efforts to protect and support victims and survivors.

We are thankful for our corporate partners and sponsors who recognize that domestic violence is an issue that should not be ignored. Their support allows us to keep doing this work day in and day out.

We are thankful for all of the individual donors whose gifts support our capacity to serve women, men and families affected by domestic violence across the country.

We’re thankful for those who visit this website to learn more about domestic violence and how to stop it, and for those who share information and speak out to raise awareness among their networks.

All of us at The Hotline are thankful every day that we are able to support people affected by domestic violence. Thank YOU for being a part of our community.

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Are You an LGBTQ Survivor? We Want to Hear from You!

survey-blog-imageThis post was contributed by the National LGBTQ DV Capacity Building Learning Center

The past year and a half have been huge for trans*, bi, lesbian and gay people across the United States. Communities big and small are grappling with Marriage Equality and the unprecedented visibility of LGBTQ relationships and families. With this visibility comes greater awareness of the violence that many in our community continue to face. For example, trans* women of color continue to bring much needed attention to the ongoing violence experienced by trans* people across the country. Additionally, the CDC recently released a report showing that LGBTQ people experience domestic abuse at higher rates than heterosexual and non-trans people.

As we gain awareness about the extent of violence experienced by trans*, bi, lesbian and gay people, we must also learn more about how to help those experiencing violence. Where do LGBTQ people go for support? How useful is that support? How can individuals, agencies and communities more effectively work with diverse LGBTQ survivors to meet their needs?

We want to hear from you!
To address these questions and more, the Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs established the National LGBTQ DV Capacity Building Learning Center (the Learning Center). The Learning Center will provide national resources and recommendations to address and prevent domestic violence in LGBTQ communities.

The Learning Center is currently partnering with the National Domestic Violence Hotline to hear directly from bi, trans*, lesbian, gay, or queer people about their experiences seeking help for domestic or dating abuse.

Do you identify as a bi, trans*, lesbian, gay, or queer survivor of abuse in a dating or intimate relationship? We want to hear from you! We invite you to participate in a brief survey to help us learn more about your experiences seeking help. You can also click on the “Take a Survey” button in the sidebar of this website to take the survey.

The information from this survey is critical. It will inform national recommendations for how local, state, and federal programs can support LGBTQ people survive abuse, build safety, and create loving and equitable relationships.

Thank you for your help!

dvam-blog-1

This October #SeeDV with The Hotline

dvam-blog-1October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)! This month serves as a reminder for people in communities across the country to renew their commitment to preventing and ending domestic violence, which affects more than 12 million people in the U.S. each year. Although domestic violence is an important issue year-round, DVAM is an opportunity for all in the movement – from organizations and coalitions to survivors, friends and family members – to come together, amplify our stories and help the world #SeeDV.

Over the past year, the conversation about domestic violence has expanded and, in many ways, become more nuanced. People are learning more about the complexities of abusive relationships, including why it’s so difficult for victims to leave and how our society can better support people who have been abused.

At The Hotline, we #SeeDV every day. We’re seeing that domestic violence intersects with a variety of issues, including HIV/AIDS, firearms policy, law enforcement response and corporate social responsibility. During DVAM 2015, we will be shedding light on these issues with a few of our partners:

  • The Hotline is one of several organizations partnering with Kaiser Family Foundation’s Greater Than AIDS initiative to explore the intersection of HIV/AIDS and intimate partner violence (IPV). The campaign launching this month will include resources, a discussion guide and a video of four IPV survivors sharing their stories of living with abuse while HIV positive.
  • The Hotline will partner with Americans for Responsible Solutions for a joint webinar at 2 p.m. CT on Oct. 27. The webinar, entitled “A Deeper Conversation: The Intersection of Firearms and Domestic Violence,” will take a look at how the presence of a firearm in an abusive relationship intensifies the fear of abuse victims. It will also explore what can be done to provide greater protections to domestic violence victims and survivors. To register, click here.
  • For many years, Verizon has been committed to bringing attention to domestic violence and supporting survivors through its HopeLine program. Throughout October, Verizon will offer an exclusive line of purple accessories and will donate a portion of each sale, up to $100,000 to The Hotline. To learn more about HopeLine, visit their website.
  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is launching a second Pass the Peace campaign, which seeks to raise awareness and funds for The Hotline. Learn more about the campaign and how you can participate here.

We hope you’ll share how you #SeeDV with your friends, family and community this October. Be sure to follow The Hotline on social media for DVAM 2015 updates and ways to get involved!

Find us on:

Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

one-year-later

The Hotline, One Year Later

one-year-laterAt this time last year, we were still reeling from the disturbing footage of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious in an elevator. In the month after that footage was released, contacts to The Hotline spiked by 84%, and the media was discussing domestic violence at an unprecedented level. Although resources for domestic violence programs, including The Hotline, were stretched thin, ultimately the event brought a too-often ignored and misunderstood issue to light in new ways.

This week, USA Today profiled The Hotline and showcased a portrait of progress one year later. Thanks to generous contributions from our partners and supporters, including the National Football League, we have been able to hire additional staff and fulfill crucial operational needs in order to accommodate the increase in contact volume we’ve experienced since last September. This summer, with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, the NFL and Mary Kay Inc., we opened an office in Washington, DC, allowing us to expand our digital service capabilities and increase opportunities to be involved in important policy work on The Hill. Thanks to additional resources, over the first seven months of 2015, The Hotline and loveisrespect answered 185,845 contacts, 61,106 more than we did over the same period in 2014. We’ve been able to answer 72% of all contacts, compared to 59% during the same period last year. This means we are getting ever closer to our goal of answering every call, chat and text that we receive.

The conversation around domestic violence has changed over the past year, but there is still much work to do. We still need more education and prevention programs at all levels, and we must keep fighting to eradicate stigmas around victims and survivors. It’s also crucial that we continue strengthening and enforcing laws regarding domestic violence in order to support survivors in the most effective ways.

We believe that whenever someone reaches out for help in a domestic violence situation, they deserve access to compassionate support and resources that meet them where they are. The Hotline’s mission is to be the lifeline that connects all who are affected by abuse to the support and services they need. If you would like to join us in supporting domestic violence survivors, learn more about how you can get involved.

firearms and dv

Taking a Stand Against Gun Violence

This post was contributed by our VP of Policy, Rob Valente

Firearms and domestic violence are a deadly combination. Last year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline conducted a survey addressing the experiences of survivors of domestic and dating violence around firearms violence. Of those who participated in the voluntary survey:

  • 22% said their partners had threatened to use a firearm to hurt the victim, their children, other family members or friends, household pets, or to commit suicide.
  • 10% said their partner had fired a gun during an argument.
  • 52% said they would feel safer if law enforcement took their partner’s/ex’s/spouse’s firearms.
  • 67% said they believed their partner was capable of killing them.

Homes with guns have a three-fold increased homicide risk as compared to homes without guns. This risk increases to eight-fold when the perpetrator is an intimate partner or relative of the victim. When previous incidents of domestic violence exist, the risk of homicide is 20 times greater.[i]

In light of these sobering statistics, The Hotline would like to thank U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and actress and comedian Amy Schumer for their efforts to address the epidemic of gun violence in our country today. Senator Schumer and Ms. Schumer rightly point to the gaps in our background check system that allow persons – including adjudicated domestic violence abusers – to purchase or gain possession of dangerous firearms. A strong background check system­ is key to reducing firearms violence. Women are 46% less likely to be shot to death by former or current intimate partners in states that require background checks before firearms purchases.[ii]

Senator Schumer and Ms. Schumer proposed three important steps that Congress should undertake to respond to the dangers of lethal firearms violence:

  • Incentivize state efforts to get all necessary records into the federal background check system and penalize states that fail to submit all appropriate records
  • Fully fund mental health and substance abuse programs in the federal budget
  • Have the U.S. Department of Justice study all states’ standards for involuntary commitment and identify best practices.

We commend them for speaking out so firmly in support of reasonable efforts to ensure that gun violence does not threaten the safety of our families, friends and communities.


 

[i] Kellermann AL, Rivara FP, Rushforth NB, et al. Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home. New England Journal of Medicine. 1993;329(15):1084-1091

[ii] State Background Check Requirements and Rates of Domestic Violence Homicide, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, New York, NY 2015, http://everytown.org/documents/2015/01/dv-background-checks-fact-sheet.pdf.

dc-office

The Hotline Celebrates the Grand Opening of a New Digital Services Office in Washington, DC

For nearly 20 years, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has been headquartered in Austin, TX. We took our first call in 1996 and since then have received more than 3.5 million contacts. In 2013, we debuted our live chat services via thehotline.org, a crucial lifeline that gave victims and survivors another way to reach out if they couldn’t or didn’t want to speak by phone.

Now, in 2015, we are proud to announce that The Hotline is expanding to include an additional office in Washington, DC. On July 15, friends and partners from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Football League (NFL) and within the DV field gathered with Hotline staff to celebrate the grand opening of our new digital services office.

Hotline DC Opening

More and more domestic violence victims and survivors rely on technology like computers, smartphones and tablets to search for help and information on domestic violence and dating abuse. By expanding our operations, The Hotline is better equipped to meet victims where they are by providing much needed services through online chat and text messaging. We are sharing the new space with the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, one of the original resource centers created by the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA).  Through projects like VAWnet and the DV Evidence Project, the NRCDV has been instrumental in collecting information critical to domestic violence service providers and making it easily accessible online.

Hotline DC Opening 2

This is an exciting time for The Hotline and all of our partners and supporters. Although small, the DC office represents the start of a big idea – digital service centers across the country, which will allow us to extend our capacity to serve victims and survivors during peak times in each time zone. It’s another step toward our goal of answering every call, chat and text for help.

Check out the video below to hear a few words from special guests at the grand opening:

We want to thank the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, and our partners at the NFL and Mary Kay Inc. for their support.

If you would like to show your support for victims and survivors of domestic violence, please consider making a gift to The Hotline

manup-blog

Man Up!

At The Hotline, we recognize that anyone of any gender can be a victim of abuse. The Man Up campaign seeks to redefine our society’s concept of what it means to be a man, so that we hold abusive people accountable as well as provide space for all victims – including men – to find support without shame or stigma.

This post was written by Crayton Webb, Mary Kay Vice President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility. It first appeared on the Mary Kay Blog. Republished with permission.

Suck it up! No pain, no gain! Be a man! You play like a girl!

How many times has someone said one of these things to you? How many times have you said it? Thought about it? Maybe you thought it, but stopped short. These phrases are engrained in our society. They’re a deep part of the way we define what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.

As the father of three boys under the age of seven who works for a company dedicated to enriching women’s lives and committed to being the corporate leader to end domestic violence, I’ve been shocked at the number of times I caught myself thinking one of these things. I thought I would be different! Better, maybe. I expected myself to at least be more sensitive. Thank God I stopped myself before the words crossed my lips.

If we really want to end domestic violence – we have to stop it before it starts. And that begins, frankly, with men. Men have to own violence against women as a man’s issue – a man’s problem. We have to get to the next generation of men – boys my sons’ age – and change the way they and we look at women and look at ourselves.

For men to be part of the solution we have to change the way we think, the way we behave, the way we’re raised and the way we raise our children – both our sons and daughters. We have to change the way men talk to each other and our children; the way we treat each other; the way we hold each other accountable as men.

That’s a big task! So, where do we start? I say, let’s start with something small that speaks volumes. Let’s embrace the gift of parenthood and the obligation and duty we have to raise our children – the next generation – to be better than we are. Let’s begin by taking on a simple phrase – one we’ve all heard a million times – or maybe we’ve said it. It’s time re-define, re-think and re-frame what it means to be a man and what it means to “MAN UP.”

Click here to watch Mary Kay’s “Man Up” video and learn more about how you can be part of the change!

webb-125Crayton Webb, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at Mary Kay Inc, oversees the company’s global media and public relations team and is also responsible for Mary Kay’s global CSR and philanthropic efforts. Crayton is chairman of the men’s auxiliary for Genesis Women’s Shelter in Dallas, HeROs (He Respects Others), and was recently appointed to the board of the Texas Council on Family Violence in Austin, Texas.  Follow Crayton on Twitter @craytonwebb.