I #SeeDV As an Issue We Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Talk About: Cameka Crawford

DVAM-CCRAWFORDOne of the defining moments in my career happened just a few short months ago. I was speaking to a group of young women in college about healthy relationships and how to recognize the signs of dating abuse. The conversation became a little personal, and I began talking about a past relationship. While the relationship was not abusive, my partner exhibited unhealthy relationship behaviors. By telling my story, I opened the door for the women in the room to share their own to stories and support each other.

After the event, one of the women approached me and thanked me for being honest about my relationship. What stood out for me wasn’t the fact that she thanked me. It was that she said that I looked like I had the “perfect” life and wouldn’t be the “type” of person who would be in an unhealthy relationship. That single moment showed me the power of sharing our stories.

By openly talking about domestic violence and dating abuse, we can dispel the myth that there is a “type” of person who experiences abuse. Domestic violence does not discriminate. It affects all types of people – no matter their race, gender, age, education or income. There is not one “type” of domestic violence victim or survivor. Every situation is unique.

Also, when we speak out, we are acknowledging that domestic violence is a widespread issue that affects every community. Seeing a story play out every once in a while in the media can make it seem like domestic violence doesn’t happen that often. Well, it does. Domestic violence affects more than 12 million people each year in the U.S. With so many people in our country affected by abuse, we can begin to see the real and urgent need to expand resources, education and prevention efforts.

Finally, sharing our stories helps other victims and survivors feel less alone. Talking more openly about our experiences, when we feel safe doing so, might encourage others to come forward and find support. After all, abuse is never the victim’s fault, and no one ever deserves to be abused. The only person to blame is the person who chooses to be abusive. When we as a society understand this, we will go a long way in helping to erase the shame and blame that can keep victims and survivors from seeking help.

Today, and every day, I am committed to speaking out about healthy relationships, domestic violence and my own experiences. I hope you will join me and share how you #SeeDV with your friends, family, classmates and coworkers. By doing so, we can work together to create a society that doesn’t stay silent about domestic violence or ask why a victim would stay in an abusive relationship. We can shift the conversation and eventually create a world where domestic violence doesn’t exist.

Cameka Crawford is the chief communications officer at the National Domestic Violence Hotline and its youth-focused program, loveisrespect. For more than a decade, she has been committed advancing the communications and marketing efforts for corporate and nonprofit organizations.


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!

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National Domestic Violence Hotline Announces New Officers for Fiscal Year 2016

AUSTIN, TEXAS – The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline), today announced new officers for its board of directors who began their terms effective immediately. The board oversees governance for the organization and works with the chief executive officer to set the strategic vision and direction for The Hotline.

Catrina Wilson is the newly-elected chair of the board. Members also elected Mary Susan Gallien Clinton to serve as vice chair, Sheila Casey to serve as treasurer and MariBen Ramsey to serve as secretary.

“Collectively, our new officers bring decades of knowledge and experience to The Hotline’s board of directors,” said Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of The Hotline. “The next year will be transformational for the organization, and I’m thrilled to work with this team to take The Hotline to the next level.”

National Domestic Violence Hotline Officers, Fiscal Year 2016

Catrina Steinocher Wilson, a native of Corpus Christi, TX, is president and CEO of the United Way of the Coastal Bend. She has previously served as CEO of the Women’s Shelter of South Texas and is a past member of the HHSC Family Violence Allocation Committee, the Office of Attorney General Sexual Assault Programs Outcomes Committee and Flint Hills Resources Community Action Council. She holds a B.A. and M.S. from Corpus Christi State University.

Mary Susan Gallien Clinton began her career as a stockbroker with Morgan Keegan Headquarters in Memphis, TN before founding Gallien Global Vision, an international wildlife documentary company. Through the years Gallien Global Vision has expanded out of television media and is a key player in a woman owned company for international contract manufacturing. Gallien Clinton also serves on the Ole Miss Women’s Council Executive Board and is a Gulfshore Life Woman of the Year and Naples Community All Star recipient.

Sheila Casey is the COO of The Hill, the leading source of congressional news. Prior to joining The Hill in 1997, she was the Director of Finance at the Texas Council of Family Violence. A military spouse for over 41 years, Casey has been active in military spouse organizations and is currently a member of the Board of Governors of the National Military Families Association, a nonprofit that is the voice for military families.

MariBen Ramsey, a resident of Austin Texas, graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas School of Law. After 11 years as a corporate securities attorney, Ramsey joined the Austin Community Foundation, where she served as the foundation’s general counsel and led its grantmaking programs for 20 years. She has an extensive volunteer profile and has served on more than 20 non-profit boards at the local, state, national and international level.


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.


Pregnancy and Abuse: Safety During Postpartum

This post was contributed by Rebecca Donley and is the final post in a series about pregnancy and abuse. Read the first, second and third posts.

postpartumThe period immediately following childbirth can be immensely joyful for new parents. It is also often overwhelming to deal with the care of a new baby and adapt your lifestyle to what that entails. For parents with an abusive partner, this time is often a period of escalated stress and danger. Some studies have shown that experiencing abuse is a risk factor for postpartum depression and other postpartum mental health issues, so it may be helpful to share incidents of emotional, verbal and physical abuse with your prenatal healthcare provider so they can help you identify preventive measures for the postpartum period. You may also want to consider researching information on symptoms and support. Postpartum Support International has a wealth of information, including a page on pregnancy and postpartum mental health, a local support search and tools for self-assessment and self-care.

Your body will also be readjusting physically after pregnancy. After your body goes through childbirth, you will need a period of healing before engaging in sexual activity. Your doctor, nurse or midwife may advise you about this length of time depending on your birth experience. Your abusive partner may try to reassert power and control by dismissing or downplaying these recommendations using guilt, threats or even forcing sex before you are ready. These behaviors are sexual abuse and can create health issues or an extended healing period for you. Contacting your healthcare provider or a domestic violence program about these incidents may allow you to create a safety plan to increase your sexual and physical safety during this period. Examples of strategies you may use could include:

  • A support person staying in your home during the length of your healing;
  • Staying with your baby at a supportive family member or friend’s home or a shelter while you heal;
  • Sleeping in a separate part of the home from the abuser;
  • Adjusting your sleep schedule to times when your partner is away from the home;
  • If you are concerned that your partner is trying to get you pregnant again, identifying safe and undetectable contraceptive methods that don’t interfere with your child feeding choices.

As always, you know your situation the best, and these suggestions are not recommendations, but ideas for possible exploration if you think they could increase your safety.

As advocates, we use tools called Power and Control Wheels to discuss different types of abuse. There is even a Power and Control Wheel specific to the pregnancy and postpartum period. One of the sections on the original wheel is Using Children, and these tactics during this period can be especially impactful. It’s common for new parents to have to negotiate their preferences for child raising with one another. In an abusive situation, the abusive partner may ignore, override or sabotage the other parent’s wishes and concerns.

One area where this may come up is how to feed your baby. Some parents may wish to breastfeed, and others may choose to use formula to feed their child. In order to move forward with either of these methods, having your partner’s support is very important to feel successful. Breastfeeding has many benefits and may increase connection with your child and even help lessen the impacts of postpartum mental health disorders. However, it can also be physically and emotionally draining for some parents. If your partner belittles you for challenges that you have with breastfeeding, prevents you from having time to breastfeed or pump or pressures you to breastfeed without providing support, these may be red flags for abuse. Using formula to feed your child also has benefits, and may allow for increased healing and relief for new parents. This feeding method also requires funds to purchase formula and may take time to make bottles to feed your child. If your partner refuses to provide financial assistance for formula, makes you feel guilty for using formula or pressures you to feed your child with formula but will not help with making bottles or feeding your child, these may be red flags for abuse.

Another area where you may experience this is around your baby’s sleep. There are many methods and theories for helping infants (and their parents!) sleep. You can expect to make decisions around how to respond to your child when they wake, where to make your child’s sleeping area, what makes a safe sleeping atmosphere and who will respond to the baby. If your partner prevents you from creating a consistent sleep routine, purposefully starts fights near the child’s sleeping area, prohibits you from comforting your child or refuses to assist when the child awakens, these may be red flags for abuse.

If you are noticing these types of behaviors, it may be helpful to reach out for additional support. While you may have received immediate support from family and friends following your child’s birth, you may begin to feel isolated as visitors thin out. Your partner may behave in ways that make visitors uncomfortable, or you may just be entering a new phase that your friends do not relate to yet. There are many sources of support for new parents, and connecting with them can help get perspective on your new role and how to best deal with your partner’s concerning words and actions. Your pediatrician or postpartum care physician may have information about support groups for new parents and their children, so it could help to contact their office about finding some resources. Social media and parenting websites like Baby Center, Parenting, The Bump, and What to Expect have forums where you can reach out to other parents and sometimes even find local groups and resources in your area.

You can also find groups that offer support that are specific to your parenting choices. Be mindful when joining any group that there may be parents who view parenting choices in a very concrete way and may not be as understanding of the circumstances you are dealing with in your relationship. Give yourself the space needed to separate from any group that is more about judging and giving advice than about supporting members with diverse life experiences. La Leche League International provides support and resources to breastfeeding parents; on their site you can look up information on local support meetings.The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program provides assistance for both breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women; you can find agency contacts for their nutrition and breastfeeding support programs on their website. Attachment Parenting International also offers information and resources to connecting with local parents who want to practice attachment parenting principles. Babywearing International is another group that has local support meetings for parents interested in babywearing practices.

If one-on-one support is more in line with your needs, you may want to consider reaching out to a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula provides assistance to parents acclimating to their new roles. They may provide support and education for breastfeeding and other skills that increase bonding between parents and babies, to grow parents’ self-confidence. You can use this search tool to find local postpartum doulas. If your insurance does not cover the costs of a postpartum doula, you may choose to ask if doulas offer pro bono or sliding scale services.

You can always contact The Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or live chat on the website from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. CST to discuss these issues and more. In addition to creating a personal safety plan with you, we can also help you connect with local domestic violence programs which may offer support groups, advocacy services, individual counseling and child care assistance.


Pregnancy and Abuse: Planning a Safe Child Birth

This post was contributed by Rebecca Donley and is the third in a series about pregnancy and abuse. Read the first post here and the second post here.

pregnancy-3For many first time parents, childbirth is an exciting yet frightening event. While there are many ways to prepare yourself for the birth of your child, everyone has a different version of the perfect birth, so these steps will vary from person to person.  Some people create a birth plan to outline what they would like to happen during and immediately following birth. A birth plan can include measures for safety if you are also concerned about the impact or role of an abusive partner during the birth.

As you are creating this plan, consider the allies that you will have available during the birth. If you plan to give birth at a hospital, doctors and nurses will likely be present during much of your labor process. If you are giving birth at a birthing center or at home, you may have a midwife present. Depending on your prenatal care options, you may have been able to inform these professionals about your concerns about the abuse. If not, contacting the professionals beforehand and planning some items to add to your birth plan for safety may be a possibility. You also might have a professional like a doula for support at the birth. Birth doulas provide support at hospitals, birth centers or home births, and unlike a doctor or nurse who may be supporting several patients and present only during certain parts of labor, your doula will stay with you throughout your labor process. Though doulas may not have training in domestic violence or supporting someone who is experiencing abuse, you still may be able to reach out to them for added support during your labor. While doula costs may not be covered by insurance, some doulas may be able to provide services pro bono or on a sliding scale. If you do not have a birth doula, you may want to identify a family member or friend to take on the role of labor support. When considering who to ask, keep in mind that you may want someone who will safety plan with you as opposed to for you.

Childbirth requires a lot of energy and focus. Even if you have a c-section planned in advance, that’s a major surgery that deserves your full attention. No matter your birth plan, it’s important that you be able to fully access your reserves without having distractions. If you feel like your abusive partner or ex-partner will attempt to prevent you from taking necessary steps for a safe and stress-free birth, consider adding strategies to your birth plan that will refocus and energize you. Different strategies work for different people, so practice these in advance to see what is most effective for you. These include movement exercises, breathing exercises, guided meditation or relaxation narratives, listening or singing to music and repeating positive affirmations. The key is that you are able to stay relaxed and positive.

If you have left the relationship, or go into labor while your partner isn’t present, you may determine that preventing them from finding out that you are giving birth is the safest thing for you and your child. You may be able to do this by only alerting your labor support person when you go into labor, and ensure that they know to not share this information with anyone else. When determining where you will give birth, you may want to consider whether your partner or ex knows your due date, and if they will try reaching out to area hospitals, birth centers or your support network to try find you. Once you determine a plan, let the staff at the place where you give birth know to alert you if someone tries looking for you, as well as to not provide any information about your presence or status. Give them a picture of your partner/ex, and ask that staff alert you if anyone matching their description is reported in the area. If you are giving birth outside the home, you may want to take a cab or have a friend or family member take you in a vehicle that your partner/ex will not recognize. When you leave the facility, ask your labor support to check the parking lot to ensure that your partner/ex is not waiting for you. While it is understandable that you would want to share information of your birth with social networks, consider safety before sharing updates or information. Pictures online can often be viewed by friends of friends, even if the abuser is blocked. If family and friends visit, ask them to wait on posting any photos that they take with you or the baby until after you’ve returned home.

You may need to have a plan for staying safe with the abuser present during labor as well. Creating activities to occupy your partner, like asking them to contact family and friends or pick up items from the store if they are distracting you, may be one strategy to create space for you to focus. As part of your safety measures in your birth plan, you could determine a code word to use with your doctor, nurse, midwife, doula or other labor support to alert them if you are feeling unsafe and would like your abuser removed from the room. You could also have a friend or family member stay with your partner to prevent them from interrupting your focus during childbirth. Brainstorming other strategies ahead of time is key because you will want your full energy to go towards ensuring a safe and peaceful birth. Even if your partner has limited your birth planning options, you may be able to mentally prepare yourself by researching childbirth and making a personal safety and self-care plan for each stage. Obtaining access to a phone to dial 911 in the case that your partner has prohibited you to leave the home to have the baby may be one part of an emergency safety plan. Identifying a room where you feel most safe and relaxed to labor, and preparing it in advance with the items and materials that you will need is another strategy to reduce stress during labor without external support.

Whatever your circumstance or needs, The Hotline is available to help you, whether that’s identifying local options or national resources that may enhance your safety, developing a personalized safety plan that helps you maintain your reserves for childbirth, or providing emotional support and validation during the last phase of pregnancy. We are available 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or via live online chat from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. CST.

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.


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


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.


Avon Foundation Partners with The Hotline to Grant $500,000 to 25 Local Domestic Violence Programs

The Avon Foundation for Women, the world’s largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy that focuses on issues that matter most to women, has partnered with The Hotline to grant $500,000 to 25 local domestic violence advocacy programs in cities across the U.S. The grant is part of a larger effort by the two organizations that started with #GivingTuesday to raise funds and awareness for local and national domestic violence hotlines. Each of the grantees will receive $20,000 to continue operating hotlines that support domestic abuse victims and provide direct services for survivors in their communities.

“Across the country, domestic violence programs and shelters are operating with fewer resources and staff. When victims take the difficult step to reach out for help, many are in life-threatening situations,” says Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “The generous dollars received from our partners at the Avon Foundation for Women will enable more victims to get the help they need whether it is for counseling, shelter, legal services or compassionate support as they try to live a life free from violence.”

Congratulations to the 25 local organizations receiving a $20,000 grant:

A SafePlace (Oakland, CA)
Alternatives to Domestic Violence, Casa de Paz (Riverside, CA)
Center for Community Solutions (San Diego, CA)
Connections for Abused Women and their Children (Chicago, IL)
Chrysalis (Phoenix, AZ)
Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc. (San Antonio, TX)
Genesis Women’s Shelter (Dallas, TX)
Houston Area Women’s Center (Houston, TX)
Interval House (Anaheim, CA)
1736 Family Crisis Center (Los Angeles, CA)
Need-A-Break Inc. (Dallas, CA)
Miami Dade Community Action and Human Services Dept. (Safespace) (Miami, FL)
My Sister’s Place (Washington, D.C.)
Option House, Inc. (San Bernardino, CA)
Partnership Against Domestic Violence (Atlanta, GA)
Peace Over Violence (Los Angeles, CA)
SafePlace (Austin, TX)
Safe Horizon (New York, NY
SafeHouse (Denver, CO)
Shelter for Battered Women (Safe Alliance) (Charlotte, NC)
The Family Place (Dallas, TX)
Women Against Abuse, Inc. (Philadelphia, PA)
WEAVE Inc. (Sacramento, CA)
YWCA Interim House (Detroit, MI)
YWCA of San Diego – Becky’s House (San Diego, CA)

Want to show your support for families affected by domestic violence? Please consider making a gift to your local program, one of the organizations listed above and/or the National Domestic Violence Hotline.


Bringing the Love to ESSENCE Fest

Last weekend, The Hotline was thrilled to #BringtheLove to ESSENCE Fest! Hosted by ESSENCE Magazine in New Orleans, ESSENCE Fest is a four-day celebration that draws major artists, celebrities and speakers and seeks to empower the African-American community.

Things officially got started on Friday, July 2, and throughout the weekend The Hotline was at the center of the action. People from around the country visited our booth to learn more about the work we do, sign a pledge to speak out against domestic violence, share their stories or get tips on how to help people in their lives experiencing abuse.


During the festival, our chief communications officer Cameka Crawford participated in two panels where she had the opportunity to discuss healthy relationships and domestic abuse.

Essence Fest

Cameka Crawford (center) discusses healthy relationships at ESSENCE Fest with Jonathan Sprinkles and Vicky Boston.

Hotline staff members were also able to provide on the spot advocacy during the event. Maisha Barrett, a Hotline advocate, spoke with people who had experienced domestic violence in the 1970s and 80s. Many of them noted that the conversation around domestic violence, and the availability of support services, had changed drastically in the past few decades. “They said that there was no help then and that it was just something that you dealt with on your own and didn’t talk about to anyone,” Barrett recalls. “A lot of survivors came up and shared their stories about getting away from their abusers and took a lot of pride in signing our board in support. I was also struck by the amount of people who took four and five and six of our [information] cards because they had that many people in their immediate life who were currently being abused by partners.”

Hotline advocate Anitra Edwards said, “It was really great talking to so many people about the services we provide and what we do. A lot of the people we met were also very willing to share their stories or how they were affected by domestic violence.”

ESSENCE Fest’s 21st year was a huge success, and we’re already looking forward to ESSENCE Fest 2016 and continuing to make an impact at this event!

Essence Fest

Roland Martin stopped by The Hotline’s booth to sign our pledge board.


Staying Physically, Emotionally and Financially Safe During Pregnancy

This post was contributed by Rebecca, a Hotline manager, and is the second in a series about pregnancy and abuse. Read the first post here

pregnancy-2While often portrayed as a magical, happy time, pregnancy—with the associated physical, emotional, social, and financial changes—can be challenging, even with a supportive partner in a healthy relationship. Because an abusive partner may see the unpredictability of pregnancy as an opportunity to increase power and control, if you’re pregnant it’s important to explore options to enhance your physical, emotional, financial and legal safety.

Your physical safety needs may change as pregnancy progresses; what may seem safe at one point may not feel that way a few weeks later. Getting prenatal care may be a way to maintain both your and the baby’s health during this time. It also may be a way to connect with a service provider that you can turn to if you are concerned for your safety. If you are unsure about accessing prenatal care, you may be able to get more information by contacting 211, a local resource line available in most communities. You can also sign up for Text4Baby, a free service that sends you tips about staying healthy during pregnancy up through your child’s first birthday. If you have concerns about not being insured, you may be able to get insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Survivors of domestic violence can enroll at the healthcare.gov website at any time, using the Special Enrollment Period (SEP). For more information about this option, visit the What’s New? area of the Health Cares About IPV website.

During pregnancy, your center of gravity shifts and joints loosen to allow for easier childbirth. This can make getting around more difficult. If you live with the abuser, consider mapping the safest routes out of the home or apartment from the rooms where you spend the most time. Try avoiding rooms with weapons, hard surfaces and areas near stairs. If it is becoming difficult to drive, consider identifying some safe people that you can contact if you need transportation. Keeping cab or bus fare stowed in a packed bag may be another way to get out quickly if needed.

Protecting and maintaining your emotional energy during this time is also important and closely linked to physical safety, as stress can adversely impact your pregnancy. Creating a self-care plan is one way to achieve this. Some people use prenatal yoga, walking in nature, journaling, art or spending time with loved ones as part of their self-care. Creating social connections with other parents can be particularly important during pregnancy. Meetup.com is a website where you may be able to a group of parents expecting children with a due date close to yours. Other parenting and social media websites may have similar groups that you can join to find support and connection. If finding a group online doesn’t fit your needs, you could ask your healthcare provider to ask about classes or programs for expecting parents. Seeking out the support of a counselor may be an additional way to get perspective during this time. The Hotline can offer information about local domestic violence programs that offer counseling and support groups. If you’re looking for counselors that specialize in other areas, GoodTherapy is a website that offers assistance finding a local counselor, as well as articles and resources on issues that impact emotional well-being, including during pregnancy.

Pregnancy is also a time when financial and legal options begin to shift. Knowing your rights around these issues is a first step to creating a plan to protect yourself and your new child. While workplaces may differ in their support for pregnant employees, there are certain employment laws that they must follow. The Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau has a website where you can review your rights during pregnancy and as a new parent. Some state domestic violence coalitions also have dedicated projects that offer support for protecting yourself financially. One great example is the Economic Justice Project of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence called Get Money, Get Safe, which offers general tips on banking, credit and other issues for survivors of domestic violence. Knowing your options regarding custody can also be confusing, especially if you have several plans that you are considering for both your and your future child’s safety. WomensLaw offers a wealth of legal information including custody information and parental kidnapping laws searchable by state.

Safety plans are not one size fits all. Each person has a right to safety and a right to define how that will look, and these suggestions are not meant to serve as a guarantee or a direction. At The Hotline, we believe that you are the foremost expert in your situation. If you see some ideas that seem fitting and would like to expand on them, you’re always welcome to call us 24/7 or chat online between 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. (CST) to fully discuss creating a personalized safety plan.