National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

RHOBH: What Kyle Sees Isn’t What Taylor Gets

Last week’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills episode “Otherwise Engaged” showed a particular moment that we’d like to discuss.

Kyle and her husband Mauricio attended a dinner thrown by Taylor and Russell. While a dinner between friends is common enough, there appeared to be a discomfort between the two couples. One of the reasons for this was shared by Kyle’s voice-over as she walked into the Armstrong’s home.

“Taylor will tell us things that make us not like Russell. That’s very difficult because then when we see him, he’s very polite and seems to be a nice person. It’s very confusing for everyone.”

As the viewer watching this, we know that Taylor will later come forward about Russell abusing her.

This situation between Kyle and Russell is very typical.

Often, abusive partners can be well liked by family members and friends of the victim. This is because friends and family might not see the abuse happen, and they may only ever see the kind side of the abuser.

If you find yourself in a situation like Kyle’s, know that it’s ok to be conflicted. You may like the person and not like their behaviors. It’s ok to question your feelings towards them.

We do want to point out that if you are rude or hostile towards the abusive partner, this can be used against your friend (the victim). The abusive partner can say things like, “What did you tell your friends?” or “Have you been talking about me behind my back?” and then use this situation against the person they are abusing.

Be mindful of how your actions or statements can be used to fuel the abuse.

This moment on RHOBH was significant for us because it seemed to be a red-flag moment for Kyle. She recognized that things weren’t adding up. We encourage you to call The Hotline if you need help reaching a friend experiencing abuse.

Did you see this episode? Did this moment catch your eye? Will you be tuning in tonight?

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

RHBH: Taylor Shares Fears About Marriage With Friends

Photo courtesy of BravoTV.com

In last night’s episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, we see the end of the trip with the housewives to Camille’s ski property. In a conversation between Taylor and Kyle, Taylor shared the anxiety she was experiencing about her failing marriage. A combination of altitude, wine and feelings seemed to overwhelm Taylor as she broke down and displayed emotions ranging from anger to paranoia and depression.

The other ladies showed concern for Taylor, asking her to talk about her situation and offering her their thoughts on her situation. After a moment where Taylor succumbed to tears, Adrienne piped up, “Sometimes two separate happy homes are better than one miserable home.”

From what we have heard of Taylor’s interview on Entertainment Tonight and from watching Taylor struggle on this episode, we know there is something majorly wrong in her relationship. In last week’s episode, she expressed that she was scared, and last night, she confirmed that she was afraid for her child.

Here are moments of this episode that we’d like to point out:

  • When Taylor says she’s scared, the other housewives don’t ask her to clarify. They never directly confront what is making her afraid.
  • Hotline Help: If a friend opens up to you and uses a word like “scared,” “afraid,” “nervous,” “intimidated” and other red flag words, it’s ok to ask for more information. You can ask, “Do you feel safe in your relationship?”.
  • Alcohol seemed to fuel Taylor’s candor. Consuming alcohol can be seen as a coping behavior and may be another red flag.
  • Hotline Help: If you see a friend reach for the bottle whenever he/she discusses their unhealthy relationship, point out this behavior to them when they are sober. It may sound like, “Hey, I’ve noticed you mostly talk about your relationship when you’re drinking.” Let them know that you want to take the opportunity to talk without alcohol present.
  • Kyle didn’t talk about Taylor’s situation when she had reunited with her husband Mauricio because she didn’t want him to think that she didn’t have a good time on the trip.
  • Hotline Help: If you ever are worried about a friend, it’s ok to use the people in your life as your sounding board. If your friend’s behaviors are striking you as off or concerning, talk about it with someone else and air your concerns. Silence might perpetuate your friend’s suffering.
  • It can be hard to know what to say to a friend in need. Make sure you stay away from areas of victim-blaming. This exchange perked our ears:
    Lisa: “Don’t you really feel that maybe you really deserve better than the way you’ve been treated. Really?”
    Taylor: “I think I don’t believe that. “
    Lisa: “That’s the problem, isn’t it?”
    While Lisa was trying to help, her approach placed the guilt on Taylor, making Taylor believe that she had done something wrong.
  • Hotline Help: No one chooses to be in an abusive relationship or wants the abuse to continue. Remember to be supportive and non-judgmental. Respect your friend’s decisions and do not criticize them. Remember that it’s easier to talk as an outsider looking at the relationship than the other way around.
  • This was an emotional trip for the housewives. As they returned home, especially in light of what Taylor had shared, we were concerned that no one asked her the crucial question, “Do you feel safe going home?”
  • Hotline Help: After a friend shares that they worry about their safety, or the safety of a child, address their physical needs by asking if they feel safe to go back to the house.

Are you ready to have the conversation? If you need help or would like more information about how to support a friend or family member, please contact us at The Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Why We’re Blogging About the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

For those of us at The Hotline who are Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fans, it’s difficult to watch this season. Housewife Taylor Armstrong has recently disclosed her experience of abuse and is also coping with the suicide of her allegedly abusive ex-husband. Entertainment Tonight has released gruesome photos of the black eye Taylor suffered and is discussing the incidents of abuse in greater detail.

Russell Armstrong’s death occurred after season two of the RHWOBH had finished filming. There has been a lot of controversy around the choice made by Bravo to continue airing the therapy sessions with Taylor in which she analyzed her relationship with Russell.

As this season airs, we are going to blog about the behaviors we see. We want to provide you a context for the human experiences we are all watching unfold as we tune in to each week’s episode. We hope to empower you, our readers, with knowledge that you can use if you find yourself in a similar situation to what you see on screen. What are ways to help a friend in Taylor’s situation? Is therapy recommended for abusive couples? How should you react if someone tells you that they are abused? These and other questions are areas we strive to answer by using the lens of this show to examine domestic violence.

As we write about what we see, we do not mean to exploit, objectify or judge the very real people who we are watching. We extend our saddest condolences to Russell Armstrong’s family and wish nothing but support for Taylor and her daughter as they grieve and begin their healing process.

According to online sources, 2.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the season premiere. The sheer amount of people watching the show, combined with the knowledge that one in four women has experienced abuse, helps us feel that this season could be an important learning moment for all of us.

In season one, Taylor, a domestic violence advocate herself, used her access to the cameras to positively promote a local Beverly Hills shelter, 1736 Family Crisis Center. Blogging about this season is a way for us to use a platform we have — this website — to discuss a topic that deserves our attention.

We hope you’ll join our conversation.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

New Music Video Brings Awareness to Domestic Violence

Rap duo Atmosphere shines a spotlight on domestic violence and The Hotline today with the release of the music video for their new single “The Last To Say.” The song tells the story of two generations of a family suffering due to domestic violence. In the video, the child who witnessed his father’s abuse growing up becomes the abuser as an adult in his own relationship. The end of the video features the website and number of The Hotline.

MTV is premiering the video on its activist-focused ACT blog, MTVU and MTV2 today. The video has already gotten attention on popular music blogs Antiquiet, Music by Goat and The Originators.

“Domestic violence is something that everyone has dealt with, directly or indirectly,” Sean ‘Slug’ Daley, one half of Atmosphere, stated in an MTV interview about the video.

The group is one of the most successful independent hip hop groups since debuting in 1989. Critics have applauded Atmosphere’s lyrics for their thoughtful and introspective quality. This is the first time the group has taken an activist stance through their music.

Daley also said that the group had wanted to speak out on the subject for some time, but needed the right music for his message.

“Making someone aware of the situation you’re in is difficult, but reaching out and asking for help and finding a way to protect yourself is the most important thing,” Daley added.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Domestic Violence Depicted in Summer Music Elicits Strong Response

Popular rapper Eminem and the musical group Odd Future both made headlines this week, spurring debates over the portrayal of domestic violence in the media, specifically through lyrics and music videos.

Music Video Prompts Worry

Eminem released the video for his latest single, “Space Bound,” online June 27.  The video takes the viewer through the escalation of anger into violence and eventually murder as Eminem copes with discovering that his girlfriend cheated on him. Having realized what he’s done, Eminem commits a graphic suicide at the end of the video.

The new single also presents aggressive, violent lyrics including, “I’m trying to stop you from breathing/I put both hands on your throat […]’ til I snap your neck like a Popsicle stick.” The violent imagery and lyrics have prompted outcry from Mothers Against Violence, a British nonprofit, who have called publicly declared the rapper “evil” and “selfish.”

The song’s producer Jim Jonsin defended the video to the press. “People kill themselves, people get killed, they kill other people,” Jonsin clarified to MTV News. “When my kids watch it, I like to explain to them in that manner: ‘It’s like a movie, ya know? He isn’t really killing himself.’”

Eminem has earned negative press before with his previous portrayals of domestic violence. The video for the 2010 hit song “Love the Way You Lie,” in which Eminem collaborated with Rihanna, featured a similarly hostile and abusive relationship between Dominic Monaghan and costar Megan Fox.

Festival Selection Mobilizes Chicago Activists

Pitchfork released the line-up of their summer music festival on June 22th, which includes controversial California-based indie rap group Odd Future. Odd Future has been condemned by several anti-domestic violence and LGBTQ groups, especially since the release of frontman Tyler the Creator’s crude album Goblin earlier this year. With lyrics deemed too vulgar for The Late Show and multiple Twitter feuds with various musicians, Odd Future has garnered a lot of criticism.

Pitchfork’s endorsement of Odd Future has empowered Chicago-based domestic violence groups to voice their concerns. Between Friends, a domestic violence agency providing counseling, court advocacy, prevention and education efforts, has announced that they will be present at Pitchfork Festival to provide another perspective to concertgoers about the content of Odd Future’s music.

Between Friends issued a statement (full message available here) regarding their July 17th protest intentions. “While we don’t agree with this, it is their art, and we’d like to offer a counterpoint and continue to help people that are being affected by the violence they describe.”

Between Friends has printed 5,000 cardboard hand fans featuring educational information about domestic violence and resources to get help. The group described their goal as the following. “The result will be a sea of fans cooling down concertgoers while, hopefully, getting them discussing the issue and knowing where to turn for help.”

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Judge Pirro Releases PSA for “Love Is” Campaign

Judge Jeanine Pirro, host of the Emmy-nominated and syndicated “Judge Pirro” show, has partnered with The Hotline to launch an educational initiative about domestic violence this season. Pirro has incorporated safety tips and action plans into the show in an effort to empower women and men in abusive situations.

“The public has to be educated about domestic violence,” explained Pirro. “Every time a victim is ignored, a criminal goes unpunished, or violence is excused, our society erodes further.”

Judge Pirro is not only raising awareness about what constitutes emotional, physical and sexual abuse, but is also offering resources to those who may be in unhealthy relationships.

Judge Pirro joins the National Domestic Violence Hotline in our 15th Anniversary “Love Is” campaign with a series of public service announcements that we will be releasing throughout the year. We are proud to have her be a part of The Hotline’s 15th Anniversary and Honorary Committee.

Visit our 15th Anniversary page to learn more about the “Love Is” Campaign.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Lifetime Television Tackles Teen Dating Abuse in “Reviving Ophelia”

Lifetime Television recently premiered the movie “Reviving Ophelia”, based on the best-selling book by Mary Pipher.  The movie centers around Elizabeth and Kelli, cousins who are each facing their own adolescent turmoil.  Elizabeth has the picture-perfect life and from the outside seems to have the just as picture-perfect boyfriend.  Kelli suspects Elizabeth is being abused and tries to help her cousin but finds it hard to help when no one believes her.

The movie is a gripping tale of what some teenagers face in their relationships and how many times parents and friends do not see what is going on in the relationship.  Parents need to be aware of the signs of abuse and how technology also plays a role in abusive relationships.

If you have not yet seen the movie, you can view the movie on Lifetime’s website until November 4, 2010 or buy it on DVD.  You can also download a Discussion Guide for Parents or Teens to help start the conversation after watching the movie.



National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Domestic Violence Examined on Dr. Phil

Yesterday on a Dr. Phil episode entitled Crossing the Line, Dr. Phil counseled two couples experiencing verbal and emotional abuse in their marriages.  Often when domestic violence is discussed, it’s assumed that physical violence is involved.  This episode serves as a moving reminder that abuse can take many forms — emotional, verbal, sexual, economic, psychological, spiritual and physical.

The men on this show believed that they were not committing domestic violence because they were not inflicting physical pain on their wives. Although there are no visible scars when domestic violence is non-physical, other forms of abuse still cause long-lasting damage and pain.

Abuse is never acceptable.  Review the signs of abuse and please call The Hotline if you have questions or concerns.  We are here to help.

Please call The Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TTY).

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

PBS Documentary on Domestic Violence to Premiere at Newseum in Washington D.C.

Actress and domestic violence prevention activist Mariska Hargitay, of NBC-TV’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, will introduce and appear in Telling Amy’s Story, a documentary on domestic violence that will premiere May 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Newseum, prior to being broadcast on PBS stations nationwide starting in June.

The documentary, created by Penn State Public Broadcasting, chronicles the time leading up to the death of Amy Homan McGee, a mother of two who was shot and killed by her husband. A question-and-answer session to include Sheryl Cates, CEO Emeritus of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, will follow.

The story of Amy Homan McGee is frightening and difficult to believe.  This hard working mother of two small children was tragically murdered at the hands of her abusive husband.

Penn State Public Broadcasting made a documentary and talked with her family, friends, law enforcement and court officials who were involved with the case to get their perspective on what happened in the weeks, months, and years leading up to Amy’s death.

This documentary was made so Amy Homan McGee and other victims’ voices of domestic violence will not be forgotten.  The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) would like communities across the nation to begin a dialogue of how their community can save lives and change the outcome of Amy’s story.  NDVH believes that domestic violence is preventable.   We as communities can not change the outcome of Amy’s life, but we can be an accountable community working positively wifh families for a different outcome.

Through this documentary, you will never forget Amy Homan McGee and we applaud Verizon Foundation and Penn State Public Broadcasting for collaborating on this documentary and engaging communities and showing that we all have a part to play in ending domestic violence.  To see a trailer of the movie and find out how you can get it shown in your area, visit telling.psu.edu.

Domestic violence is preventable and we can all play a part in social change.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Katie Couric Addresses Escalating Violence Seen In Teen Relationships

ndvh_logo_webCBS Evening News with Katie Couric covered a crucial issue last night, the alarming number of American teenagers experiencing abusive relationships. This dilemma is reflected in the 600 percent increase of calls and chats to loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline since 2007. The CBS news crew was able to get a first hand glimpse during their visit to loveisrespect where they observed peer advocates during staged calls and chats.

Technology has made abuse easier than ever, allowing perpetrators to employ new mediums such as cell phones, email and social networking websites to control their partners. Sheryl Cates, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect, weighed in on the issue during the program and stated that technology has changed the dynamics of abuse. Please visit cbsnews.com to read the full story or click here to view the entire broadcast.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Marilyn French’s Characters Speak to Me

The following blog originally appeared on womensmediacenter.com.

By Kate Murphy

A college senior considers both The Women’s Room and French’s posthumously published novel, The Love Children, from the point of view of her own generation. And the experience clarifies her feminist sensibility.

As I plunged headfirst into The Women’s Room, the most famous novel of the late feminist Marilyn French, I found myself submerged in a foreign world, or so I thought. Beginning in the 1950s, the novel follows Mira Ward through her teenage years, her young marriage, her life as a stay-at-home mother, and her subsequent feminist rebirth during her forties, while a student at Harvard University. Hers was a world where women were second-class citizens; where all that many young women had to look forward to was a life of suburban discontent and servitude. I found it shocking. But at first I just couldn’t relate to it.

Flying through the first few chapters, gripped by the grim reality Mira and her friends faced, my perception changed, the way one’s eyes gradually readjust after the room suddenly goes dark. On the last page of Part I of The Women’s Room I realized I was reading a story that was my own, every woman’s. Isolde, a friend of Mira’s, says to her, “I hate discussions of feminism that end up with who does the dishes.” French ends the chapter with, “So do I. But at the end, there are always the damned dishes.”

I don’t know why, but that struck me. Maybe I couldn’t see myself reflected in the exact life experiences of these women on a surface level, but I couldn’t help thinking of what I would do in their places, how I would feel if I were them. Page after page, I found myself shocked, outraged, and terrified at the depth of unhappiness of the “typical American housewife” of the time. Even after Mira left this life—dumped by her husband and forced to pick up the pieces and start anew, she moved to Cambridge to attend Harvard—I still thought of the women she was leaving behind. Women trapped in loveless marriages, with no means to survive on their own; women doomed from the start.

As I continued reading, I found the women who “made it out,” the women whom Mira met at Harvard, still experienced unhappiness, emptiness, rape, rage, alcoholism, and adultery. But somehow, they fared better. The difference, and it was no small thing, was that these women recognized themselves, and one another, as women at their core, as burgeoning feminists. They formed a community. They shared in each other’s every experience, not on a superficial neighborhood-acquaintance level, as Mira’s friends before had, but on an existential level.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Judge Jeanine Pirro Puts the Spotlight on Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Former New York District Attorney and County Court Judge Jeanine Pirro is partnering with the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). She will use her national televised daily court program Judge Jeanine Pirro, as a national platform to educate her viewers and bring attention to the cause. Beginning on October 8 and continuing every Thursday for the entire month, the program will air a series of public service announcements for The Hotline. A special one-hour episode will also air on October 29, dedicated entirely to domestic violence cases, with an audience comprised of domestic violence victims.

Judge Pirro has always been a champion for the cause and started one of the first domestic crime units in the country. During her years in law enforcement, she established bureaus to investigate and prosecute crimes including domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and sex offenses.