#GingerbreadForGood: Spotlight on Hotline Advocates

G4G-blogAdvocates are the backbone of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect (our project for teens and young adults). They are here 24/7/365 offering support to people who need information, resources, or just to speak with someone knowledgeable about abuse who will listen and provide perspective without judgment. They do this work because they are truly devoted to helping domestic violence victims and survivors get the help they deserve.

Each day, advocates at The Hotline and loveisrespect speak, chat online, or text with the hundreds of people who contact us; some of these contacts are currently in abusive relationships, some have left abusive relationships, some are friends and family concerned about a loved one and some identify themselves as abusive partners. All are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their situation. Today, we wanted to share a few stories from our advocates about what they do.*

“I chatted with the friend of a woman in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. The friend was doing research because the abusive partner monitored all the victim’s calls and computer use. The victim was financially dependent on the abuser because of school loans and had two young children, so she was feeling very stuck. Her abusive partner was trying to convince her that he was not physically abusive because he never actually hit her, though he had thrown her across the room and choked her. After doing some assessing to figure out the victim’s needs and goals at this point, I connected the friend with a local shelter and provided information on crime victim’s compensation and custody concerns. We also talked about ways that the friend and victim could safety plan together, and discussed places the victim could go to safely use phones and computers.”

“I recently spoke to a woman leaving an abusive relationship who found a shelter to house her, her child and her pets. The only obstacle was transportation. After contacting several DV agencies, I decided to contact faith-based organizations in the area. I spoke to a priest who had a few minutes to spare before church service. I explained the situation and the priest was more than willing to help. He offered to pay transportation to get her to the shelter approximately 80 miles away.”

“A man called in because he was going home to a verbally abusive wife and verbally abusive children. He had told no one in his life about this for years after once confiding in another family member, who immediately told him she didn’t want to hear about it. He was afraid people at work wouldn’t respect him if they knew, and that he might lose his job. I talked about that with him. The caller admitted that he’s afraid of the consequences of opening up and sharing his weaknesses with anyone – after all, when he’s with his wife, she’s aggressive and will exploit his weaknesses. But he realized other people could be more trustworthy than her, and he resolved to tell someone at work on Monday. This was a huge step for him.”

Your gift to The Hotline during our #GingerbreadForGood campaign helps ensure that our highly-trained advocates are here to answer these important calls, chats, and texts. Don’t forget, your donation does twice the good thanks to a matching grant from the Avon Foundation for Women!

*Identifying details have been changed or omitted.

Read more about what Hotline advocates do:
What to Expect When You Call
What Can the Hotline Help You With?
A Day in the Life


Avon Foundation For Women Pledges to Match December Donations to The National Domestic Violence Hotline For #GivingTuesday, Up to $200K

Austin, TX – November 26, 2013 — The advocates at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) are builders. They work with callers to build safer families and homes. They help survivors build back their self-esteem after it’s been worn down from years of verbal abuse. They help build safer futures free from violence. Now, thanks to a matching donation opportunity from the Avon Foundation for Women, these builders could get a few more helping hands. During the month of December, the Avon Foundation will match donations made to NDVH up to $200,000. To highlight this extraordinary donation opportunity, NDVH employees will build a Gingerbread Hotline on December 3rd, #GivingTuesday.

Katie Ray-Jones, NDVH president said, “As a non-profit organization, we rely on the generosity of private donors and sponsors. Earlier this year, we answered the 3 millionth call to the hotline. Unfortunately, many calls go unanswered because of a lack of resources. With funds raised during this December drive, we will be able to answer more calls for help and continue our work of building better lives.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 1.25.23 PMThe matching gift from the Avon Foundation for Women will allow NDVH to create a pool of advocates who can be called upon to serve when they are needed most. Through this support, the organization will be able to staff more than 12,500 hours of advocate time for answering calls and online chats. This translates into an estimated 23,695 people served. The Avon Foundation for Women’s Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program has been a strong supporter of the hotline, giving more than $500,000 to the organization.

“The Avon Foundation’s #GivingTuesday donation aims to harness the power of our new social media campaign, #SeeTheSigns, to inspire women and men of all ages to raise awareness about a cause that is often hidden from the public eye,” said Avon Foundation for Women President Carol Kurzig. “One in every four women is a victim of domestic violence, and she may be your sister, daughter, friend or neighbor. The most meaningful gift we can give our loved ones, friends and neighbors this holiday season is a future free from violence. Every donation to the National Domestic Violence Hotline will help ensure that someone is available to answer the most important call of a victim’s life.”

When a visitor to makes a donation, he or she can select an embellishment of their choice and watch as it is attached to the Gingerbread Hotline. A pond filled with gummy fish? You’ve got it. A unicorn in the call center? Absolutely!  The NDVH conference room will be transformed into a winter wonderland where anyone can watch the building as it takes place via live video streaming. This Gingerbread Hotline build coincides with #GivingTuesday, the national campaign that harnesses the collective power of charities, families, businesses and individuals to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

Avon Foundation for Women and Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence

The Avon Foundation for Women launched Speak Out Against Domestic Violence in 2004 to support domestic violence awareness, education and prevention programs aimed at reducing domestic and gender violence, as well as direct services for victims and their families. Through 2013, the Avon Foundation for Women has donated nearly $38 million in the United States to support domestic violence programs, services and education. Globally, Avon supports efforts to end violence against women in nearly 50 countries by raising funds through special product sales and raising awareness through events and with educational information disseminated by more than 6 million global Avon Representatives. Visit for more information.

SeeDV FeaturedImage

How Hotline Advocates #SeeDV

Every day, our hotline advocates take calls from all over the country. They speak to victims, survivors, individuals identifying as abusive, concerned friends and family members and others. They talk to people wondering how to leave, and others wondering how to rebuild their lives after they already have.

This past month, our advocates answered the hotline’s 3 millionth call — a milestone that represents those who have been positively impacted by our advocates but also the increasing need for lifesaving services. Help us recognize this moment by pledging 3 minutes of your time to talk to someone you know about healthy relationships and the resources available at the hotline.

This month for DVAM, we turned to our advocates and asked them to tell us how they #SeeDV. Here are some of their responses:

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October is coming to an end but it’s not too late to get involved. This past week we continued to have an outpouring of responses and participation — check it out below, and don’t forget to tell us how you #SeeDV.

We’re approaching the final week of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the participation and support continues to be amazing. From re-tweeting our own content, to creating your own images and messages tagged with the #SeeDV hashtag, you’ve all shared powerful words throughout the month.

We’re approaching the final week of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the participation and support continues to be amazing. From re-tweeting our own content, to creating your own images and messages tagged with the #SeeDV hashtag, you’ve all shared powerful words throughout the month.

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, NOT,,, 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

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.

volunteer spotlight

Meet A Volunteer: Amalie

Here at The Hotline, much of the work we do is made possible by the dedication and effort of our volunteers. We met up with Hotline volunteer Amalie, one of our many advocates on the receiving end of the calls, to talk with her about her experience working here.

How did you become interested in advocating for victims and survivors of domestic violence?

I’ve volunteered for the past 5-6 years. I worked for a citizen review board that monitored children that had been in foster care or in homes with domestic violence — so I had seen a lot of domestic violence before in families. I knew that this was an area I wanted to pursue further.

How did you feel when you answered your first call?

I was really nervous – nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to provide the right tone, and that I was going to seem like I was nervous talking to them. I was worried that I wasn’t going to have the knowledge to give them all of the resources that they needed.

My first call turned out fine. Once you just start talking to a caller, you realize that you can find common ground, and that you’re not in completely different places. It wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be.

What aspects of your job satisfy you the most?

So many! After every phone call, I know that even if the caller doesn’t use the resources I’ve given them, at least they’ve made the phone call, which is a positive first step. Hopefully after the call they know that there’s hope for change.

I like taking the time to speak with the callers — for callers to receive any kind of validation can be huge. I am not there to fix the callers problems or tell them what’s the right path. I can only try my hardest to provide the callers with safe resources and avenues to do this, so they can gain back the quality of life and respect they deserve. If I can help the caller with this in any small way, I have been rewarded in an invaluable way.

You receive calls from family and friends who might be concerned about a loved one. What would you say to someone who’s frustrated and wondering, “Why won’t they just leave?”

It’s just not that easy. The person in the relationship can be scared. They can feel very confused. They can feel at fault. There was a reason initially that they got into that relationship or fell in love with that person.

I try to explain that they should consider giving their loved one support and space to process their feelings. The victim is already being controlled and overwhelmed by their abuser. Telling them what they should do or trying to do it for them only pushes the victim deeper into their isolation. By giving them non-judgmental support and an environment that feels safe they can be empowered to make the necessary changes through their own actions and self-discovery.

Do you receive any calls from abusers?

Yes. Regardless if the caller is an abuser, I still keep an unbiased tone. The fact that they’re calling is a positive step. Most callers that identify as abusers are seeking help. Whether that’s court appointed or they’ve seen behaviors in themselves that they want to change, I try to be supportive of that and try to find them resources in their area.

What are some common myths about domestic violence that you see regularly?

One myth is that it’s easy to leave and the women who stay are just weak. It’s so much more complicated then that. It’s a web. A victim needs to be slowly able to crawl out of it, and catch their footing. There are just so many different dynamics.

The one that really gets to me is this: the victim must have done something to initially start the abuse. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! No one should EVER justify any form of abuse in relationships. It is never okay and never the victims fault. The abuser is making a distinct choice to react to their emotions in a certain way. They could have just as easily taken a long run or left the relationship.

What message do you have for someone who is recently out of an abusive relationship?

I get phone calls from people who have been out of their abusive relationship for 15 years and they’re just calling now to seek counseling. The fact that they’re reaching out now for support is huge.

There’s a lot of trauma after leaving an abusive relationship. Whether you’re a family or friend of someone who has gone through an abusive relationship, or the survivor yourself, there are support groups out there. You do not have to endure the journey alone. It’ll take time — it’s a process.

The healing process is unpredicatable, so don’t be disheartened if some days are harder than others. Be okay with the fact that it’s not going to be easy. And allow yourself that space to acknowledge and be be aware of what you need. And it’ll be hard. If you feel sad, and feel defeated on some levels – be okay with that, and you can move on from there. By leaving your abuser you have won the biggest battle. … One foot in front of the other.

Final thoughts about your experience at The Hotline?

Volunteering here has been a really beautiful thing for me. Every time I come in here, I’m learning something myself based on how I react to different calls and the feelings I’m left with after the phone calls. These callers re-ground me constantly and I am constantly blown away the incredible strength within these women and men. I am grateful for what they’ve taught me.

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, 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 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.
what to expect when you call the hotline

What To Expect When You Call

Every call to The Hotline comes from someone different. Some callers identify as survivors of abuse, some as abusers, and some as concerned family members and friends seeking help for someone else. While every call is specific to the individual, here are some phrases and questions that advocates consistently communicate to best help each caller.

“Thanks for reaching out.”
Calling The Hotline can be nerve-racking, especially if you haven’t reached out for help before. Our calls are completely confidential and anonymous and our advocates have extensive training in domestic violence matters. Reaching out for help is the first step to improving your situation, whatever that may be. We say this line to let you know how happy we are that you’re taking the first step toward getting the help you deserve.

“Are you in a safe place to chat?”
It’s critical for your safety that you reach out when your partner isn’t home. If your partner does come home or walk in while you’re talking with an advocate, immediately disconnect the call. Because abusive relationships are based on power and control, an abusive partner is likely to react in anger as you take steps to regain control. Another way to stay safe is to remember to delete our number from your phone and clear your internet browser history after visiting our website.

“Why don’t you tell me a little bit about your situation?”
Before an advocate can begin helping you, she or he has to know your specific situation. This gives you an opportunity to bring up any concerns you’ve had about your relationship. Sometimes, giving a relationship timeline or explaining a recent altercation with your partner can give the advocate a better idea about what you’ve experienced.

“What have you considered doing at this point?”
You are the expert of your own situation. Callers reach out at all different times in their relationships, so advocates need to know what steps you’re ready to take before they can help you find resources. While an advocate won’t give explicit advice on what you should do next, you can talk out some options to make the best decision for yourself.

“How are you taking care of yourself?”
Self-wellness is important at any stage of a relationship. Especially in the matter of abusive relationships, it is easy to forget about keeping yourself healthy and happy. Taking care of yourself may be as simple as eating a good breakfast to prepare for the day or getting enough sleep at night. Advocates often suggest writing in a journal, reading a good book or taking a bubble bath to ease your mind.

“Let’s brainstorm together.”
Whether you are deciding how to communicate better with your partner, planning on leaving the relationship or finding things that you can do to feel safe, there is always more than one right answer and an advocate can help you sort through the options to determine the best one for you.

“Is there anything else I can help you with tonight?”
Maybe over the course of your conversation with an advocate, you thought of another question you had or feel more comfortable asking something you were scared to ask before. Advocates are always available to answer your questions about healthy relationships and how to handle an unhealthy or abusive relationship, so don’t hesitate to ask.

The advocates at our Hotline are available 365 days a year, 24/7 to take your calls. Read more about what types of things The Hotline can help you with here, and don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).

what can the hotline help you with

What Can The Hotline Help You With?

Dialing 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) will connect you with an advocate to speak with confidentially at any time, 24/7, 365 days a year.

The Hotline offers help to callers at any stage. Whether you’ve called before or maybe feel nervous about reaching out, it’s helpful to know what we can speak with you about and how we can assist you. We speak to everyone from people who are just slightly questioning something that might be going on with a partner, to others who need immediate assistance in an abusive situation. We also speak with survivors of abuse looking for support.

The Hotline can additionally provide help to those who aren’t personally experiencing abuse, but know someone who is, like a friend, family member, co-worker or community member. We can discuss what’s going on and provide you with resources and next steps.

Here is what else The Hotline offers:

  • Direct Connect: We can immediately put you in contact with sources of help right in your own community (We have access to over 5,000 shelters/service providers across the US). We’ll connect you with places that often can help with protective orders, counseling, support groups, legal help, and more.
  • Advocacy: In certain situations, we can advocate for a caller (ex. To get into a specific shelter program).
  • Education: We’ll provide you with info about everything from the dynamics of an abusive relationship, red flags and warning signs to look for, healthy and unhealthy characteristics of a relationship, and more.
  • Language line: We have both English and Spanish speaking staff, and access to interpretation services for over 170 different languages
  • Complete anonymity and confidentiality
  • Safety planning: We’ll talk with you about creating a “safety plan” for what to do if you find yourself in a difficult situation, or help with emotional safety planning (for instance, after ending an abusive relationship).
  • TTY line for the Deaf, Deaf Blind and Hard of Hearing: We’ve partnered with the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS) to ensure Deaf Advocates are available to callers. These advocates are available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST) by videophone (855-812-1001), instant messenger (DeafHotline) or email.

A call can be as short or as long as you would like it to be. Over 60% of our callers report this is their first call for help – if you haven’t reached out before, you’re not alone. Give us a call today to speak with one of our advocates.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Meet an Advocate: Devynn

Ever wondered who is on the other end of calls to The Hotline? Meet Devynn, an advocate who has been with The Hotline since 2003. Devynn has a background in social work, anthropology and women’s studies. During our conversation, it became very clear just how passionate she is about what she does.

Q. How did you become interested in advocating for domestic violence? What brought you here?

A. It was kind of a natural progression. I was in social work for a number of years and then began teaching. But even then I was always volunteering. I volunteered in Houston when I lived there. I was actually a founding volunteer of the Houston Area Women’s Center. And then I moved to Ireland for several months to work on my dissertation for my PhD in Women’s Studies and sex trafficking. I couldn’t stay and finish, though. When I came back I started working here.

Q. What aspects of your job satisfy you the most?

A. As trite as it might sound, giving someone support when they don’t think there is any. When they get off of the phone they say, “You really listened to me. Thank you.” That’s really nice. To have someone say, “Thank you for listening. I had no one,” shows me that there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

Q. Why do you continue to advocate for domestic violence?

A. It’s important. I had an acquaintance of mine who said, “You know, you’re not going to change this. There’s always going to be domestic violence. There’s always going to be sex trafficking.” And I said, “Yeah, I can’t save the world, but at least I can make it a little bit better.” So that’s the way I look at it sometimes.

Q. What are some common myths about domestic violence that you see regularly?

A. “What did she do to push his buttons? She must have done something. You don’t just hit people or scream and yell at them. So, what did she do?” That one and the other one is, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Those are probably the most common.

Q. How do you react when someone says something like that to you?

A. I just say, it’s never that simple. And, there is no excuse for domestic violence. None.

Q. What message do you have for someone who is recently out of an abusive relationship?

A. Reach out for support… because a lot of time they’ve been so isolated. Their abuser has pushed all of their friends away. Their family won’t talk to them. I usually talk about trying to reestablish connections and trying to get involved in whatever they think they can do. And take care of themselves. A lot of times they’re so disconnected that they don’t know where to start. I’ll just tell them to start with a support group at their local program so they can talk to people.

Q. What advice do you give to a teenager who is in their first relationship?

A. I talk to them about peer pressure and about how sometimes people are in a relationship just because it’s cool or because their friends think that he’s a cool guy. They think that if they leave this relationship they’ll never have anyone else. I take that seriously. I talk to them about the kind of relationship that they have with their parents, or if they have another adult that they feel comfortable talking to. I try to tell them that domestic violence doesn’t just happen to older people – it can happen to anyone. I try to give them websites to look at and always let them know about The National Dating Abuse Helpline.

Q. What are some reasons that people give for their hesitance to call The Hotline?

A. Some people think that regardless of what we say that we’re not really anonymous — that we’re going to turn them into CPS or that we’re going to send out the police or that somehow their abuser is going to know that they called. I try to assure them that we are an anonymous, confidential hotline. Now, if they give us information about child abuse and give us details we are required by law to report it, but we explain that. They think that we’re going to call immigration. Or sometimes they want to make sure they don’t get someone in trouble. I just tell them that they aren’t getting their partner in trouble –  their partner is doing that all on their own. I tell them that it’s common for an abuser to blame their victim for their actions. Also, a lot of times people call and say, “Well this isn’t domestic violence because he’s just yelling at me.” They don’t understand that domestic violence has all of these different dimensions to it. Or that no one else believes them, so why would we. People will say, “You’re going to think I’m crazy if I tell you this.” I say, “Go right ahead. That’s what abusers often tell their partners. I’m not here to judge, I’m just here to listen.”


Advocates like Devynn are on the frontlines of our organization. They are the people that you speak with when you call, they listen to you when you need support and they connect you with resources when you’re in need.

If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic violence and wish to speak with an advocate, please give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

a day in the life of an advocate

A Day in the Life

It was summer in Austin, Texas and the temperature was hovering close to three-digits. Mary, an advocate at The Hotline who has been with the organization for five years, was sitting in her cubicle. The air conditioner was blowing but she could still feel the heat blaring in from the full-length windows to her left.

She had been at work for the past seven hours and was counting down the minutes until the end of her shift. By then, she’d answered close to 30 calls from people seeking support, information and aid. She was tired and emotionally drained.

She looked at the print of a landscape that she has pinned to her gray cubicle wall and put her head in her hand. She imagined that the white noise (created by a discretely hidden machine across the room) was the sound of the river pictured in her landscape.

Her phone rang and she was pulled back into reality. She took a deep breath. She answered.

The caller was an adult woman in her mid-thirties. She lived somewhere on the upper east coast in a home that she bought and paid for herself. She had a good job and was proud of her life. She described herself as being strong in her faith.

The caller explained that she had been dating her boyfriend for several months. “Well, kind of dating,” she said.

Mary asked what she meant by “kind of.”

The caller told Mary that she would describe their relationship as dating, but that her partner often minimized the relationship. He told her that she wasn’t his girlfriend and that they weren’t together. The caller told Mary that even though her partner said these things, he asked her to spend the night on a regular basis, got jealous when she talked to other men and called her all the time. She was confused.

Mary asked the caller why she thought that her partner was saying these things to her when he was clearly acting in a way that contradicted them.

The caller explained that she refused to sleep with her partner and that had angered him. She said that she felt uncomfortable, like she was violating her faith, engaging in sexual relations with a man that she was not committed to. She didn’t know if she should sleep with him because they are dating – if doing so would change his attitude – or if she should continue to abstain.

Mary told her that her feelings were completely justified and that she shouldn’t do anything that she was uncomfortable with. She explained that what the caller was describing sounded a lot like controlling behavior. She told the caller that her partner might be minimizing the relationship in order to convince her to sleep with him. She then took time to explain the dynamics of relationships – abusive relationships in particular –  and talk with the caller about other things that were happening in the relationship.

After spending 15 minutes on the phone with Mary, the caller sounded more confident and comfortable in her relationship. She told Mary that she understood that her partner was attempting to manipulate her by making their relationship seem less than it was. She understood that that manipulation was a sign that her relationship was unhealthy.

She thanked Mary for speaking with her and then ended the call.

Most calls that Mary takes aren’t straightforward or easy. She deals with pain and anger and sadness on a daily basis. She fights shrinking domestic violence program budgets and long waitlists at shelters every day as she tries to find aid for callers. After all of the adversity that she faces, hearing a caller tell Mary that “she is awesome” is something that she will hold on to.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

The Hotline Named a 2012 Top Workplace

The Austin American Statesman named The Hotline a top workplace for 2012. This is the third consecutive year that The Hotline has been given this honor. The article cites employees’ sense of pride for helping others, the strong support system among advocates and caring leadership as reasons why The Hotline is a positive work environment.

One employee described their job satisfaction by saying, “I talk to many strong survivors and have the chance to help them reach their goals of a safe, peaceful life. They have a difficult journey and I can encourage them and reinforce their strengths.”

The write-up also included a description of the unique service The Hotline provides for families facing crisis. To read the article, please click here.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Finding Resources in Your Area

We often get callers who aren’t sure what services are available to them. They feel alone and that they lack options. We can connect them to resources in their local area to help them in their time of need.

The Hotline is a national service available to anyone. Our advocates can talk through specific situations, provide feedback and connect callers to vital resources. Our goal is to help survivors and their family members and friends understand the dynamics of power and control in abusive and unhealthy relationships. We also help create safety plans, or outlines of what to do in certain situations, that are both practical and effective for someone experiencing abuse.

We maintain a database of over 4,000 domestic violence programs. These programs vary from state-to-state and even from community-to-community on what services they offer and how they offer them. We use this database to give callers information about what resources are available to them in their communities. We can even connect callers to those services immediately.

There are some very common trends among these programs. Most programs offer:

  • Some type of emergency shelter for survivors who are in immediate danger — this is typically short-term housing in a communal setting at a secure location
  • Counseling and/or support groups
  • Legal advocacy — especially advice in how to file a protective order or handling court appearances
  • Community advocacy — they can help connect survivors with other programs in the community that can help rebuild their lives like childcare, employment resources and permanent housing
  • Transitional housing — this is longer term housing, such as apartments that are available for one or two years

Some, but not all, community programs also offer:

  • Battering intervention programs for abusers
  • Assistance for immigrants to self-petition their immigration status under VAWA
  • Customized or culturally specific services for communities of color, deaf, LGBTQ survivors and teens

If you’re unsure of the services which are available in your community, give us a call. We can help you locate and learn about the resources that are at your disposal.