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,


Hotline Statement Regarding Dismissal of Charges Against Ray Rice

In light of today’s news that a judge dismissed domestic violence charges against former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, The Hotline is releasing the following statement:

It is not uncommon for first-time offenders, like Ray Rice, to have charges dropped after completing batterers intervention programs. For the past year, this case has brought the dynamics of domestic violence to the forefront of national conversation. It is our hope that these important conversations about the complexity of domestic violence do not end with this decision and victims of domestic violence reach out for help by contacting The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or  It is important that people living in violent situations do not view this decision as evidence that the abusive partner prevails or goes unpunished.


Recognizing Domestic Violence in the LGBTQ Community

Last month, W.N.B.A. stars Brittney Griner and her fiancée, Glory Johnson, were arrested for a domestic dispute that included allegations of assault. Just last week, the W.N.B.A. suspended each player for seven games, the longest in league history, and both women will be required to attend counseling sessions. This response demonstrates that athletic organizations are beginning to take domestic violence among players more seriously. We hope that more and more organizations across the country no longer ignore the issue, but instead take steps to respond appropriately when domestic violence occurs among employees.

The incident between Griner and Johnson also brought to light a lot of misconceptions about domestic violence, namely that it can’t or doesn’t happen in LGBTQ relationships. This could not be further from the truth.

At The Hotline, we know that domestic violence doesn’t discriminate; it can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. People in same-sex relationships are no less susceptible to domestic violence; however, due to societal stigmas around LGBTQ relationships, this abuse is often rendered invisible and victims may feel they have nowhere to turn.

Samantha Master at discusses these issues in her article, “Brittney Griner, Glory Johnson and How We Ignore Domestic Violence in the LGBTQ Community.” In this piece, Ms. Master states: “If abuse, at its core, is about power and control, then same-gender relationships, relationships between trans women and cis men, trans men and cis women, or two trans people are not exempt from this reality.” She goes on to say that, “[t]his…means that LGBTQ people must be visible in anti-IPV campaigns and organizations that provide support for survivors of intimate partner violence. These groups must also be culturally competent, affirming and well-versed in serving LGBTQ people.”

We agree that domestic violence services and programs should be available to ALL victims and survivors who seek support and resources. While Hotline advocates are trained to assist anyone who contacts us regarding intimate partner violence (IPV), including people who identify as LGBTQ, we recognize that there are often gaps in availability for local services to support them. We hope that as more awareness is drawn to this issue, more programs will be able to expand to serve LGBTQ victims and survivors so that all can receive the support they deserve.


Capps Reintroduces Bill to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence and Stalking

As we approach Mother’s Day, Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) announced this week that she has reintroduced legislation to strengthen protections for women everywhere who are victims of domestic violence and stalking by closing loopholes that allow their abusers and stalkers access to guns.

Currently, more than three times as many women are murdered with guns used by their intimate partners than are murdered by strangers using a gun, knife, or any other weapon. Furthermore, dating partners were responsible for 35 percent of intimate partner homicides committed between 1976 and 2005, and the share of intimate partner homicides committed annually by current dating partners has been on the rise.

The Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (H.R. 2216) would address these disturbing figures by closing several loopholes that currently exist in federal protections against gun violence for those who are victims of domestic violence or stalking. “We applaud the reintroduction of the Protecting Domestic Violence and Staking Victims Act,” said Ron LeGrand Vice President of Public Policy for the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “While federal law prohibits some perpetrators from keeping their firearms, dangerous loopholes remain for dating partners, stalkers, and abusers served with emergency temporary protective orders. Representative Capps’s bill closes these dangerous loopholes and will save countless lives when it is enacted.”

“In 2014, The Hotline conducted a survey where nearly 16 percent of the participants said their partners had access to guns, and a startling 67 percent said they believed their partner was capable of killing them,” said Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “For those individuals, it is critical that we continue to work together to strengthen the law to protect survivors from firearm violence at the point when they first seek help.”

The bill has 18 original co-sponsors in Congress. It is supported by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Center for Victims of Crime, Futures Without Violence, National Latin@ Network and Casa de Esperanza.


NFL Suspends Greg Hardy

According to, Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy has been suspended without pay for the first 10 games of the 2015 season. The decision came after the league’s two-month investigation into a domestic violence incident last year involving Hardy and his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder. The league concluded that there was sufficient credible evidence that Hardy had violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.

This is a positive step forward for the NFL as the league continues to evaluate and implement more stringent policies around domestic violence. Our hope is that the NFL’s commitment to addressing and preventing domestic violence will set an example for other organizations across the country. More effective workplace policies can go a long way toward creating support systems and providing protection for employees who are affected by domestic violence, as well as sending a message that abuse will not be tolerated.

Learn more about the laws in your state that protect your employment and housing rights. If you are experiencing domestic violence, The Hotline is here to help. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) any time or chat online via our website from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. CT.


The Hotline Heads to SXSW!

sxsw-blogThe South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference is officially underway in Austin, Texas, and The Hotline is getting in on the action!

This Wednesday, March 18, we’re partnering with our friends at NO MORE and SafePlace to host “Say NO MORE” – a party with a purpose. Presented by DELVE TEXAS, NEWTEK and TIVAMO.COM, the “Say NO MORE” event begins at noon in the “Spontaneous Speakeasy” at the Delve Inn, an exclusive and private venue located in the heart of the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

Event programming includes a diverse selection of bands, artists and special guests. The groundbreaking NO MORE Public Service Announcement (PSA) that was seen by 110 million people during the Super Bowl will be shown along with several other PSAs.

Not in Austin? Not a problem! The event will be webcast live in its entirety at, and online viewers will have the opportunity to donate to The Hotline and SafePlace while watching the event on TIVAMO.COM. Just text SayNOMORE to 41444 to make a donation!

Tune in Wednesday to watch these great acts perform live:

Live Music Schedule
12 p.m.: Doors Open
1 p.m.: Philip Nelson & Friends
2:30 p.m.: The WANS
4 p.m.: Elizabeth Von Santillan
5 p.m.: CultureCulture
6 p.m.: JJ Essen
7:30 p.m.: Cody Joe Hodges
9 p.m.: Eric Tessmer
10:30 p.m.: Willie Heath Neal


NASCAR Suspends Driver for Domestic Violence

NASCAR suspended Sprint Cup driver Kurt Busch indefinitely on Friday, two days before the Daytona 500, for an incident of domestic violence that occurred last September.

NASCAR’s decision shows that the evolving response to domestic violence goes beyond the NFL. More and more organizations are taking notice of the issue and creating policies to proactively respond to domestic violence. After all, domestic violence can affect the workplace. A survey of American employees found that 44% of full-time employed adults personally experienced domestic violence’s effect in their workplaces, and 21% identified themselves as victims of intimate partner violence. Nearly 8 million days of paid work each year is lost due to domestic violence issues – the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, it’s important to know the laws in your state that protect your employment and housing rights. If you have a coworker who is in an abusive relationship, there are ways you can help. Our advocates are here to provide information and support; give us a call 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).


Everyone Deserves a Safe Relationship

You’re probably aware that the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, based on the extremely popular book series, opens today nationwide. Despite the popularity of the series, many different voices have criticized the books for portraying and even romanticizing unhealthy and abusive behaviors.

Some members of the media and other groups have also commented about the characters participating in BDSM. We at The Hotline want to note that a BDSM relationship is not inherently abusive. People in the BDSM community enter into consenting and healthy relationships every day.

A healthy relationship includes open communication, mutually agreed-upon boundaries and consent from all partners. No matter how a relationship is defined, behaviors like verbal abuse, sexual violence, jealousy, possessiveness, stalking and damaging or destroying belongings are all signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship. If you have questions about your own relationship, if you feel unsafe or if you are feeling triggered, advocates are here to support you 24/7, confidentially and without judgment.

At The Hotline, we believe everyone deserves to be in a healthy and safe relationship.


Voices in the Dark

Austin Monthly – It’s midnight. Sixteen seconds into the new day, the first call comes in: a distraught mother in New Mexico who’s been physically abused by her husband and wants to know where she can go to escape yet another beating. Thirty-two seconds later, a teenager in Nebraska is asking for help on how to handle her boyfriend’s increasingly aggressive sexual advances. A caller from New Jersey gets through, says a few words and then abruptly hangs up; the purpose of her call—and her fate—is a mystery. At 12:03, a woman in Nevada is texting with some questions about child abuse. As another call line lights up, the clock ticks to 12:05.

Read More


Update on NFL Commitment to The Hotline

Our CEO, Katie Ray-Jones, has released the following update on the status of the NFL commitment to the Hotline:

“We are in lock step with the NFL as we work through final details of our multi-million dollar, multi-year agreement. We are working together to fulfill this commitment, and look forward to partnering with Commissioner Goodell and his staff to work toward our ultimate goal of answering every call. Because of the NFL’s commitment to providing much-needed support to The Hotline and the people we serve, we have been able to hire additional staff to answer more calls for help and prepare the organization so no call goes unanswered.”


Ray Rice, the NFL, and What We Know About Domestic Violence

no-excuseThe recent events and media coverage surrounding Ray Rice and the NFL have created a powerful swell of conversation about domestic violence. Many people are speaking outsharing personal stories, and calling for less victim-blaming and more accountability for abusers and their public enablers. While we are outraged by the stories we hear daily at the Hotline, we are heartened by the support of so many people who recognize that there is no excuse for abuse.

Often, a lack of understanding about the dynamics of abuse leads to misguided comments and notions about why victims stay with their abusive partners, or how domestic violence isn’t that pervasive of an issue (because it’s so often hidden from the public). At the Hotline, there are a few things we know for sure about domestic violence:

Domestic violence happens everyday, in every community. Studies show that domestic violence affects roughly 12 million people in the United States. However, abuse is often not reported, in many cases due to a victim’s fear or not knowing where to turn. Maybe you know someone – a friend, a family member, a coworker – who is experiencing abuse at home with their partner. Maybe you’re experiencing it yourself. Whatever the case, please know that help is out there.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or religion.

Domestic violence isn’t just physical abuse. The media tends to focus on physical abuse, but domestic violence includes emotional, verbal, sexual, and/or financial abuse.

Domestic violence is complex. Each person’s situation is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to domestic violence. There are many reasons victims stay in abusive relationships. What they need – what they deserve – are resources and support to help them find their own paths to safety.

Domestic violence is not the victim’s fault. The choice to be abusive lies solely with the abusive partner.

We believe that ALL people deserve to feel safe and respected in their relationships. If you or someone you know needs help, we are here to support you. Contacts to the Hotline are anonymous and confidential. Call us 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or chat here on our website Monday through Friday, 9am-7pm CT.

$20 covers the total cost of one phone call to the Hotline, and one phone call can be life-changing. If you would like to show your support for domestic violence victims and survivors with a donation, please fill out our secure online donation form. Thank you!


Violence is Never Okay (Or a Joke)

dvinthenewsFor the past few days, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about the incident between Jay-Z and Beyonce’s sister, Solange. Quick recap: footage was leaked to TMZ of Solange physically attacking Jay-Z in an elevator, while a bodyguard attempted to restrain her and Beyonce stood by. No sound was available with the footage, so we don’t know what was said between any of them, and (so far) no one involved has come forward with an explanation (Update: they have released a statement). In fact, it seems like they’re all doing their best to pretend it didn’t happen.

Plenty of people all over the internet have been speculating about the reasons for the attack, and unfortunately many are choosing to make jokes about it (for examples, just check Twitter). At the Hotline, we believe that jokes about violence only serve to diminish people’s perception of its severity. Abuse in any relationship – whether it’s between family members, friends, or people in an intimate partnership – is not acceptable, no matter the “reasons” behind it or the gender of the people involved.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, or if you have questions about domestic violence, our advocates are here to help. Please give us a call anytime, or chat online whenever the chat button is active.