Vice President Biden Tours The Hotline

On October 30, 2013 we were honored with a special visit by Vice President Joe Biden. A vocal advocate for women and men experiencing domestic violence, Vice President Biden helped found the hotline with the Violence Against Women Act. Vice President Biden met with advocates, listened to stories heard on the phone lines and recognized the milestone of the hotline answering its 3 millionth call.

After touring the hotline and loveisrespect, the Vice President spoke at a press conference about the importance of supporting domestic violence services. We are so honored that he he spent time connecting with our advocates and highlighting the work done at the hotline.


I See DV as Unacceptable

Today our special How I See DV guest is Tonya Turner, Director of Legal Services at Break the Cycle. In this position, she oversees the legal services program that represents young domestic and dating violence survivors between the ages of 12-24 in civil protection proceedings and custody matters. Tonya is an expert on LGBTQ dating abuse and has provided key trainings on the issue to law enforcement and the American Bar Association.

blog-posters-ttTonya, can you tell us a little about the service you provide to LGBTQ youth?

I provide holistic legal services to young LGBTQ survivors of dating violence, stalking and sexual assault. I also train young people about healthy relationships so that they can better identify unhealthy or abusive ones.

Why did you get involved with this work?

I believe dating violence, stalking and sexual assault are often normalized and minimized and I wish to help shape a world where dating violence is not acceptable or tolerated.

What sustains you in this work?

The fact that I genuinely believe that helping one person actually makes a difference. I believe the impact of my work can really shape the way young people view relationships and assist them in making healthier choices.

What are some of the unique struggles people in abusive LGBTQ relationships face?

Many LGBTQ teens are not yet “out” to their parents or friends and may be afraid that an abusive dating partner will “out” them to friends or family. Also, many young LGBTQ survivors are afraid to ask for help because bullying or harassment may start or increase.

Many LGBTQ teens also are afraid that they will be not believed or taken seriously. Often adults believe that abuse between LGBTQ partners is always mutual, does not occur in lesbian relationships, or that the abuser is only the more dominate partner.

What would you say to someone who is hesitant to get help about their relationship because they are afraid of getting outed?

I would stress that everyone deserves to be in a healthy and loving relationship. Next, I would discuss their concerns about speaking to their parents. If they are not ready to come out, I would encourage them to safety plan and connect them with LGBTQ resources so that they could get additional support.

How do you define a healthy relationship?

A healthy relationship involves two people who can laugh together, talk about anything, encourage each other and respect each other’s differences. In a healthy relationship, your partner makes you feel like nothing is impossible and they will be right there with you.

We know you were involved with the creation of showmelovedc.org. Can you tell us about that project?

Many LGBTQ people do not feel supported or know their legal rights. Show Me Love was a campaign created to celebrate healthy LGBTQ relationships, and to raise awareness in the LGBTQ community about legal rights and resources available to people in unhealthy or abusive relationships.

Please complete this sentence. I see DV_______.

I see domestic violence not being tolerated as we empower people to have healthier relationships and they stand up and say violence is not acceptable.

About Our Contributor

Tonya Turner is currently the Director of Legal Services at Break the Cycle. In her position at Break the Cycle, Tonya trains Metropolitan Police Department Officers and adult service providers about domestic violence laws that impact young people and how to better help young people experiencing abuse. She has provided substantive and skills training with such programs as the ABA’s Commission on Domestic Violence Custody Institute, the National Institute on Civil Representation of Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Sexual Assault Who Are D/deaf, Hard of Hearing and/or with Disabilities, and Best Practices for Lawyers Assisting Pro Se Victims of DV with Civil Protection Orders. Tonya also does outreach and education on LGBTQ domestic and dating violence. She is a board member of Rainbow Response Coalition (RRC). RRC is actively committed to informing LGBT people in the Washington Metropolitan Area of their legal rights and ensuring that law enforcement officers respond to dating/domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking calls involving LGBT people appropriately. Tonya is also on the advisory board for Show Me Love- a local campaign to raise the awareness, inform survivors in DC’s LGBTQ communities about their legal rights, and direct people to resources about maintaining healthy and violence-free relationships. Tonya received her advanced degree from Rutgers School of Law.


I See DV as the Outcome of Economic, Social & Political Inequality

Money issues can limit a survivor’s ability to move past abuse. Sara Shoener, Research Director at the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice and our guest blogger, works to educate survivors on ways to recover financially from domestic violence. Today she shares her perspective on how abuse, money and freedom intersect.


Please tell us about the work that you do.

I am the Research Director for the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice, which is a national organization dedicated to enhancing advocacy for survivors of domestic violence. We bring together experts to provide training to advocates and attorneys, to organize communities and to offer leadership on addressing the critical issues domestic violence survivors are currently facing across the country.

Right now we are focusing on our Consumer Rights for Domestic Violence Survivors Initiative, where we are working with a group of inspiring consumer rights, anti-poverty, and domestic violence attorneys and advocates to develop some really ground-breaking projects, training, and written resources that focus on domestic violence survivors’ physical and economic security.

How do domestic violence and finances intersect?

Economic hardship and domestic violence exacerbate one another. Research shows that women living in poverty experience domestic violence at twice the rates of those who do not. Domestic violence increases financial insecurity, and in turn, poverty heightens one’s vulnerability to domestic violence. Batterers’ acts of sabotage and control can create economic instability that last long after the abuse has ended.

Domestic violence has been linked to a range of negative economic outcomes such as housing instability, fewer days of employment, job loss and difficulty finding employment. Correspondingly, poverty limits one’s options for achieving long-term safety.

Domestic violence survivors often rank material factors such as income, housing, transportation, and childcare as their biggest considerations when assessing their safety plans. Given the relationship between finances and domestic violence, it’s not surprising that research has often reported income to be one of (if not the) biggest predictors of domestic violence.

What does economic abuse look like?

It can look like a lot of things, but is generally thought of as batterers’ tactics to control their partners or ex-partners by restricting or sabotaging their access to material resources. Something we hear about a lot is abusers putting survivors’ names on bills or taking credit cards out in survivors’ names to drive them into debt and ruin their credit.

Employment sabotage, such as hiding a survivor’s car keys on the day of a job interview or stalking her or him at work, is also economic abuse. Batterers use institutions survivors often navigate to bolster their economic abuse, too. For example, an abuser might use the custody court system to require the mother of his children not to move out of the area, arguing that if she leaves he will not be able to see his children as easily.

Survivors who have received orders like this have been forced to give up economic opportunities in other places such as better jobs, affordable education, and rent sharing with family members. Other batterers continually file protection orders against their partners and ex-partners in order to force them to miss school or work to be present in court.

Domestic violence can create economic damage that endures long after an abusive relationship is over, too. Survivors often face damage to their credit reports, social networks, bodies, mental wellbeing and professional reputations that generate persistent economic loss. These negative economic impacts restrict survivor’s options and as increase their vulnerability to future harm.

What interested you in this work? 

The short answer is that I recently spent many months on a research project where I had the opportunity to meet domestic violence survivors from different communities and interview them about their experiences seeking safety through institutions such as the court system, public housing and law enforcement.

What I heard from all types of people in all types of places was that they didn’t have the economic stability necessary to end the abuse they were experiencing. Sometimes that included huge ongoing expenses such as affording rent on one’s own. Other costs were more of a one-shot-deal, such as having to take time off work to go to court for a protection order.

The beginning of the longer answer is that the domestic violence survivors I have met are some of the strongest, smartest, kindest and most resilient people I will ever be lucky enough to know. Yet, they often face institutional barriers to safety rooted in social factors such as race, class and gender. Because of that, I find this work especially important and meaningful.

Please complete this sentence. I see DV ___________.

I see domestic violence as the outcome of economic, social, and political inequality.

About Our Contributor

Sara Shoener is the Research Director at the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice. She has been advocating for and conducting research on effective approaches to reduce violence against women for over 10 years. Sara’s love of qualitative research stems from the opportunity it grants to listen to and learn from women’s narratives. As a result, she has conducted numerous focus groups, surveys, needs assessments, program evaluations and in-depth interviews related to anti-violence projects. A Truman Scholar and American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellow, Ms. Shoener is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, where she also obtained her MPH.


I See DV As An Issue That Can Be Resolved If We Can Come Together

Today we’re very excited to have Denver Broncos Chris Harris, Jr. share his perspective on domestic violence and discuss how men and athletes can promote healthy relationships.

dvam-chris-harrisWhat motivated you to speak out against domestic violence?

Domestic violence is an issue that affects everyone whether they know it or not. When you look at the statistics that approximately 1 in 4 women are affected, you know that all of us probably have at least one friend or family member being affected. In the past I think people have viewed domestic violence as a ‘women’s issue’ but I feel it is important for male role models to speak out and set a good example.

How do you define a healthy relationship for yourself?

I think in a healthy relationship there has to be love, support, respect and equality. If any of those aspects are missing you end up having a relationship that just doesn’t really work. Even though two people bring different things to a relationship, you have to respect the other person and realize that what they are bringing is equally important as what you are bringing.

Through your career, the Chris Harris Foundation and your work with Big Brothers Big Sisters, you’ve been such a role model to young boys. What do you hope to teach them about relationships?

I just think it is important for young men and boys to realize that relationships are a two-way street. If they are going to be involved with a woman, they should be bringing out the best in that person and vice versa. Relationships require give and take, so I want young men to realize that and be responsible for the roles they play in relationships. But all of this really comes back to respecting the person they are with and being a source of strength rather than an obstacle.

You’ve faced many challenges in your career. You were an undrafted free agent who worked his way to being named Denver’s Breakout Player of the Year and Overachiever of the Year in 2011. To accomplish this, you must have had a very strong mental game. How do you mentally overcome a bad, or “off” day? 

I just try to stay focused on the positive. Whatever happens happens and nothing can really be gained from dwelling on the past. Obviously we all want to learn from our mistakes, but ultimately we have to stay focused on the challenges that lay ahead. I’ve been very blessed with the talents that I have, so at the end of the day I can be confident that those talents will carry me through even if I have a bad day.

An article once described you and your wife, Leah, as a “packaged deal.” What are some ways the two of you support each other? 

We really are a team in every sense of the word. She is my biggest fan and supports me before and after every game with motivation, love and support. She also handles a lot of business that I am unable to handle due to my busy schedule during the season. She is also starting her own business right now so I am doing all that I can to support that via promoting it with social media and being someone she can talk to about any issues she is facing. Everyone can check out her work at MyTimelessImpression.com.

You were recently the spokesperson for the Domestic Violence Intervention Services program located in your hometown of Tulsa. What did you learn about domestic violence through that experience?

I learned a lot about the statistics of domestic violence and just how big of a problem it is. That experience also really helped me to think about what my role could be in stopping the problem. So much of the domestic violence is caused by attitudes ingrained in children at a young age. I think that if me and other male role models take a stand and teach kids a new way of thinking, we can make progress.

We know that men holding other men accountable for their actions and words makes a difference in promoting a culture of healthy relationships. How do you encourage your friends and teammates to be healthy in their dating behaviors? 

I think the most important thing is just not to be the silent bystander. There are certain issues in our culture that if someone brings it up people are going to tell them they are wrong to think that way. Unfortunately the proper way to treat women or to participate in relationships has not always been one of those issues. We just have to change our thinking about that and make sure that if someone says something that is unacceptable that we call it out and hopefully they won’t be comfortable making those kinds of comments again.

Please finish this sentence. “I see domestic violence ______________________. 

I see domestic violence as an issue that can be resolved if we can come together and change the way people think about it.

About Our Contributor

Denver Broncos Chris Harris, Jr. knows how to make an impact. A third-year cornerback, Harris has played 31 regular-season games in his first two NFL campaigns. While he began his professional career as an undrafted free agent, he finished his rookie season with glowing stats and was voted Denver’s All-Rookie Team, Breakout Player of the Year and Overachiever of the Year. Harris completed the 2012 season ranked 5th in the NFL in receiving yards allowed and holds the record for the longest interception return in Broncos history.

In addition to his on-the-field activities, Harris’ passions extend to helping others experience the same mentorship and opportunity he had growing up. In 2013, he launched the Chris Harris Jr. Foundation to support children of military families. Harris launched a Student Success Challenge, encouraging kids to get involved in school, fitness, community service and more. Harris also participates in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and helps with program initiatives and mentoring children.


donating safely online

Tips for Donating Safely Online

We care very much about our online community. It was recently brought to our attention that there are sources on the internet who are using our name to solicit donations. While this is very unfortunate, there are limited actions we can take against these scammers or to ensure that others don’t use our name falsely.

In order to protect yourself, here are some tips for safely donating online:

  • Is the site legitimate? Whenever we fundraise online, the URL will start with “https://donate.ncfv” (double-check that you see this in the address bar). Please know that if you do donate with us online that our site is secure and that we will always protect your private information.
  • Our website is thehotline.org, NOT hotline.com, thehotline.com, ndvh.com, etc. Please pay attention to what website you’re visiting.
  • Don’t share overly personal information. While a true donation form for us might ask you for your credit card information (including expiration date and security number), we will NEVER ask for your social security number, date of birth, bank account information or debit pin number.
  • If you make a donation to us, “NDVH-TCFV 512-794-1133” will show up on your credit card statement as proof.
  • If you’re giving money to a company or product claiming to be affiliated with us, feel free to check out their connection to us by contacting our Development/Database Specialist, Michael, at mbartz@ndvh.org.

Don’t fear online donations! Donating online can be quick and convenient. By following these tips, you can give safely and make a difference for victims of abuse. Thank you for your ongoing support of our mission to end domestic violence.

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.
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.


Brand New Partnership With Ulla Popken, Plus-Sized Clothing Designer

The Hotline is excited to announce our partnership with Ulla Popken, an online retailer with clothes exclusively designed for the plus-size woman.  This small but growing company has a big heart and has partnered with us to bring awareness about domestic violence to their customers. The Ulla Popken website has information on domestic violence and the services offered by The Hotline. They also include a personal story of one of our Hotline advocates and her own experience with domestic violence.

Ulla Popken is not only bringing awareness to this issue, they are also helping The Hotline by donating a portion of the sales from two new empowering message bracelets. The bracelets can be found on their site and $3 from each bracelet will go to The Hotline to allow us to continue to answer calls for help from victims of domestic violence.

As Ulla Popken’s President Phyliss Mosca says, “Feeling beautiful is certainly empowering but giving back and helping others is the absolute best feeling in the world.”

Thank you to Ulla Popken for showing leadership in speaking out against domestic violence and helping those affected by it find help to lead a life safe from violence.


Special Thanks to the Avon Foundation

The Hotline is excited to announce its recent $200,000 gift from the Avon Foundation for Women in support of The Hotline’s efforts to answer calls from domestic violence victims, friends and family members. In 2012, over 53,000 calls for help to The Hotline went unanswered due to a lack of resources. The Avon Foundation’s generous contribution will support two part-time advocates as well as additional relief advocates to support The Hotline’s efforts in responding to calls for help from thousands of women, men, children and families seeking help annually.

Over the last 16 years, The National Domestic Violence Hotline has been proud to call the Avon Foundation for Women a true partner in making a difference in the lives of victims of domestic violence. With continued support from the Avon Foundation, together we can work to end this epidemic. Thank you to everyone at the Avon Foundation for Women for your continued contributions to helping domestic violence victims.


Sportcaster James Brown and Law & Order SVU’s Mariska Hargitay On Bringing Men Into the Conversation

On January 31st, we participated in another important Twitter Chat with our friends from the Verizon Foundation, as a part of the Foundation’s Your Voice Counts campaign.

This Twitter Chat focused on the role that men play in preventing and ending domestic violence. With the Super Bowl then-only days away and recent tragedies in the NFL community still fresh in the minds of many, this was an incredibly timely conversation.

The topic was so popular that the event’s hashtag #YourVoiceCounts even trended nationally on Twitter. Verizon Foundation’s President Rose Stuckey Kirk, CBS Sportscaster James Brown, actress Mariska Hargitay and her organization Joyful Heart Foundation, A CALL TO MEN, and NO MORE all contributed to the success of the chat.

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

1/31 Tweet up with Verizon Foundation @verizongiving, Sportscaster James Brown @JBsportscaster, NO MORE @NOMOREorg, LiveRespect @LiveRESPECT, Joyful Heart Foundation @TheJHF, and actress Mariska Hargitay @Mariska



Our Three Millionth Call Will Come One Year Earlier Than Expected

Today The Hotline is announcing that we expect to reach a critical milestone nearly one year earlier than expected — answering three million calls since The Hotline’s inception in 1996. Today’s announcement was made at a special congressional briefing to highlight the important role The Hotline plays in assisting victims of domestic violence.

“The positive news is that more people in crisis are accessing The Hotline for help and utilizing the services and resources we provide,” said Katie Ray-Jones, president of The Hotline. “But it’s also a sad and sobering reminder that domestic violence continues to be a national health problem in our country.”

The congressional briefing brought together a panel of experts to discuss the issue of domestic violence — what it means and how best to tackle the growing need for services and technology to support victims of abuse. The panel included representatives from the The Hotline, Casa de Esperanza and Verizon Wireless.

“Because one in four Latinas will experience domestic violence in their lifetime and Hispanics comprise over 20 percent of the callers to The Hotline, we believe that greater access to information and resources like The Hotline for Latino communities is vital in our outreach and support of victims,” said Amy Sanchez, chief executive officer for external relations of Casa de Esperanza.

The Hotline provides help to members of all communities regardless of race, age, gender or sexual orientation. As a non-profit organization, we rely on the generous support of individuals, private gifts from corporations and foundations as well as federal grants.

“Today’s announcement underscores the need for strong public/private partnerships and corporate resources to increase awareness of domestic violence and further prevention efforts,” said Elva Lima, executive director of public relations for Verizon Wireless. “We are honored to be a part of today’s panel and committed to our partnership with the The Hotline.”

Exclusive to Verizon, HopeLine puts Verizon technology and the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless network to work in communities by turning no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories into support for victims and survivors of domestic violence and helps protect the environment by disposing of wireless phones and accessories in an environmentally sound way. Those seeking help can also dial #HOPE from their Verizon wireless phones to be connected directly to The Hotline.

Callers to The Hotline may be experiencing physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional/verbal abuse, addiction and abuse, financial abuse, reproductive coercion and many other complex circumstances and situations.

“Unlike other important milestones, like birthdays or anniversaries, responding to three million calls at the hotline is not a cause for celebration,” said Dyanne Purcell, chief executive officer of The Hotline. “Our hope is that today’s announcement and discussion will heighten the dialogue and awareness about the issue of domestic violence.”