Graphic of a dog's paw prints on an orange background

Support Animals: Helping to Heal

This post was contributed by advocates Graciela, Brianna and Rachel

Graphic of a dog's paw prints on an orange backgroundThe effects of domestic violence on survivors can be profound and long lasting. As medical and cosmetic technology has progressed, survivors have more options for removing or changing the physical evidence of abuse. But, healing the emotional effects can be more challenging. One option for survivors who are in the process of healing from abuse is working with a support or service animal.

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Pamela Anderson Donates $50,000 to The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Generous gift from the Pamela Anderson Foundation will support The Hotline’s work in educating and providing resources to parents who are experiencing abuse

Austin, Texas – Actress, author and philanthropist, Pamela Anderson announced the donation of $50,000 to The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) on behalf of the Pamela Anderson Foundation. Anderson’s donation will support help The Hotline’s work in educating and providing resources to parents who are experiencing abuse, as well expand the online resources available for parents in abusive relationships.

Advocates from The Hotline often hear from victims and survivors whose abusive partners use their children as a tactic for control in the relationship. They work with victims and survivors to assess tactics that are used when there are kids in the home and provide safety planning tips to address those tactics. They also coach parents on how to talk to their children about what is happening when abuse is present.

“I’ve had an opportunity to meet the men and women who, day in and day out, offer compassion and information to anyone who needs help with domestic violence. As the mother of two children, I am delighted to know that our donation will help ensure that other parents seeking help and information will continue to find that trusted resource at The Hotline,” said Pamela Anderson, founder of The Pamela Anderson Foundation

“We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support from the Pamela Anderson Foundation,” said Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer of The Hotline. “This generous donation will expand our ability to offer services and provide resources for parents who are experiencing abuse. It would be very difficult for The Hotline to continue to do our work without supporters like Pamela Anderson and we greatly appreciate her taking the time to raise funds and awareness to make this possible.” Ray-Jones added.

Every day, advocates at The Hotline receive nearly 1,200 calls, chats and texts from victims, survivors, their friends and family seeking information about domestic violence. With one in four women, one in seven men and one in three teens experiencing physical, emotional or verbal abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime, the need to provide resources and support for victims has been critical.

This is the second significant contribution made by the Pamela Anderson Foundation to The Hotline. Anderson, who now spends most of her time raising funds for non-profit organizations worldwide, visited the organization’s headquarters last year to present a $60,000 donation on behalf of her foundation. The visit provided her with the opportunity to hear first-hand how advocates are making a difference in the lives of those affected by abuse.

Pamela Anderson speaks with advocates during her visit to The Hotline in 2015.

Pamela Anderson speaks with advocates during her visit to The Hotline in 2015.


The Hotline Supports President Obama’s Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

Firearms and domestic violence have always been a deadly combination. The presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500%. In a survey The Hotline conducted in 2014, we found that of the participants whose partners had access to guns, 22% said that their partner had used a firearm to threaten them, their children or other family members, and 67% believed their partner was capable of killing them.

Our CEO Katie Ray-Jones and other leaders from domestic violence and sexual assault organizations are standing with President Obama as he takes executive action to address gun violence while still protecting Second Amendment rights. Earlier today, President Obama made remarks at the White House and discussed new measures that will:

Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco. Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is making it clear that anyone in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks. They will finalize a rule to require background checks for people trying to buy weapons and other items through a trust, corporation or other legal entity. The FBI is also making improvements to the background check system to make it more effective, including processing background checks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has highlighted the importance of receiving criminal history records and information on persons disqualified due to mental illness and qualifying crimes of domestic violence.

Make our communities safer from gun violence. The President’s FY 2017 budget will include funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws. ATF has established an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking and is dedicating funds and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network. ATF is also finalizing a rule to ensure that dealers who ship firearms notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen in transit. Additionally, the Attorney General issued a memo encouraging every U.S. Attorney’s Office to renew domestic violence outreach efforts.

Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system. The Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care. The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.

Shape the future of gun safety technology. The President has directed the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology and to review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basic while exploring potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety.

We support these measures to increase gun safety and keep firearms out of the wrong hands, including those who have been convicted of domestic violence. While there is still much work to do, we believe that these new measures take tremendous strides toward increasing the safety of our communities.


I #SeeDV as a Reason to Take Action on Gun Violence: Katie Ray-Jones

dvam-blog-3Today I am proud to announce that I have joined the Women’s Coalition for Common Sense, a new coalition founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions. This coalition brings together women leaders from across industries who share a commitment to combating gun violence and domestic abuse. In its work, the coalition will focus on advocating for action on commonsense laws that protect women and families from gun violence, and address the lethal links between access to guns and domestic violence. Our goals are to:

  • Prevent stalkers and abusers from having easy access to guns;
  • Close the background check loopholes in our federal laws that let felons and domestic abusers legally buy and own firearms; and,
  • Strengthen existing laws and ensure lawmakers and stakeholders have the resources and training they need to prevent and address gun violence against women.

Firearms have always been part of the story of domestic violence and what abusive partners can do to their intimate partners. Women in the United States are eleven times more likely to be murdered by a gun than women in other high-income countries, and abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm. In 36 states, more than half of intimate partner-related homicides of women in each state involved a gun.

Our advocates hear shocking stories every day. What becomes clear from these stories is that firearms violence is not just about homicides. It is a tool that abusive partners use to control and torture their intimate partners. In our 2014 survey on the use of firearms in domestic violence situations, 67% of respondents believed their partner was capable of killing them, which creates enough fear to keep victims from leaving. Of the respondents whose partners had access to guns, more than 1 in 5 said their partners had threatened to use a firearm to hurt the victims, their children, pets or other family members.

Knowing these numbers, and with other instances of gun violence continually in the headlines, the time for action is now. We need everyone in the community – including employers – to be aware of this deadly issue and understand how they have a role to play, whether they are a business or faith leader, someone who provides housing in the community, someone who provides financial assistance, or someone who is a good friend or work colleague willing to support the survivor as she tries to deal with the violence.

If there were a rash of burglaries or muggings in our communities, we’d be advocating for police and the courts to take action. Firearms violence in intimate partner relationships is another crime that we shouldn’t accept as something that just happens.

We can change this. We can help victims become survivors. We can’t afford to do nothing. We need to act now.

Learn how you can get involved at Americans for Responsible Solutions.

Katie Ray-Jones is the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect.


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.


Recognizing Domestic Violence in the LGBTQ Community

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

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

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

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

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


Delegations from US and China Share Best Practices for Domestic Violence Services

With special contribution from Lynn Rosenthal, vice president of strategic partnerships, and Norma Amezcua, director of quality assurance at the National Domestic Violence Hotline

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is currently participating in a project between the US and China to share information about best practices for the intervention and prevention of domestic violence.  This project grew out of the US-China People to People Exchange held last year in Beijing.  During that event, the two countries agreed to collaborate to provide training for hotline workers and advocates working to address domestic violence in China.

Last month, a delegation that included representatives from The Hotline, governmental officials from the US Department of Health and Human Services, the State Department, and the White House traveled to China to meet and exchange information with local service providers and organizations. The key partner working on behalf of women in China is the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF), an organization that works to improve the status of women in China.

The ACWF infrastructure provides an opportunity for anti-violence work at the local, provincial and national level.  Services vary around the country, with several provinces developing model efforts that bring together law enforcement, women’s outreach and the courts. The ACWF estimates that nearly 1 in 4 women in China have experienced domestic violence, a very similar rate to the US. However, other estimates of domestic violence in China are even higher than the official data.

During the visit, the Chinese and US delegations discussed intervention and prevention, and agreed that changing social norms is the key to stopping domestic violence. ACWF is working to change the perception that domestic violence is a private family matter, which has also been a persistent belief in the US, especially prior to VAWA. All attendees agreed to continue discussing effective methods to change social norms and to consider ways to evaluate these efforts.

The US delegation also conducted two training sessions, one in Wuxi City (in the southern part of the country) and one in Beijing. Participants included students, law enforcement officials, ACWF officials and outreach workers, social workers, lawyers and psychologists. In both the training sessions and in meetings with ACWF officials, the US delegation learned about best practices and the legal response to domestic violence in China.

Domestic violence is a global issue, and no country is immune. We are grateful for this opportunity to learn and exchange ideas with our counterparts in China. A delegation from ACWF will visit the US later this year, and we look forward to continuing conversations about best practices, policies and solutions for ending domestic violence around the world.

Attendees at the training session in Wuxi City

Attendees at the training session in Wuxi City


Capps Reintroduces Bill to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence and Stalking

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

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

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

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

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


NASCAR Suspends Driver for Domestic Violence

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

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

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


I #SeeDV as an Issue That Impacts Survivors of All Ages and Abilities: Kathy Greenlee

DVAM-greenleeThe last day of October means the end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I see domestic violence as an issue that requires a community response accessible by all survivors; this includes people of all ages, and people with disabilities. However, it is often difficult for survivors with disabilities and older adults to access the support services they need to escape abuse. Although we have made progress, the work to expand access to services for these survivors and bring visibility to their experiences is only just beginning.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline’s commitment to providing comprehensive support for people who are deaf or hard of hearing is an example of what is needed to address violence in the lives of all people. For more than 22,000 survivors each month, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides that first link to help. According to the Hotline, in 2013, 24% of callers identified themselves as over the age of 46—and almost 10% were over the age of 55. Nearly 2,000 callers accessed help through the TTY (Deaf Hotline) service.

Regardless of age or ability, all survivors of domestic violence deserve pathways to safety. Every day, advocates at the Hotline provide callers with safety planning and crisis intervention. But what happens after a survivor hangs up the phone is just as critical. For the Hotline to have its full impact, its advocates must be able to connect survivors with direct service providers in their communities that can accommodate their needs. For older adults and people with disabilities, this is not always the case.

Last year, the Hotline reported that more than 1,600 callers had difficulty accessing local services because programs could not accommodate their disabilities. That these survivors were turned away after making the effort to find assistance is particularly troubling, given that people with disabilities can have increased barriers to seeking help, such as reliance on a caregiver (who may be the abuser), social isolation, and communication obstacles. Similarly, older adults in violent relationships can find it challenging to leave an abuser or access shelter. Some older people may have medical conditions and disabilities that make living on their own (or in shelter) difficult; and others may be the caregiver to an abusive partner, making the thought of leaving seem impossible.

To improve access to services for older survivors and people with disabilities, there are some basic things domestic violence agencies can do. For example, the very act of getting to shelter cannot be taken for granted. Transportation is doubly challenging for older people and people with disabilities who rely on a caregiver and are reluctant to disclose their need to go to a domestic violence shelter. Survivors should not be expected to find safety without help if they need it. With additional training, domestic violence providers can consider some of these barriers and encourage advocates to reach survivors where they are.

I began my career as a domestic violence and sexual assault advocate in Kansas in the late 1980s. Since then, our country’s response to violence against women has tremendously improved, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline is a model for accommodating survivors with diverse needs—from language access, to the Deaf Hotline. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is over, but I will continue to raise awareness and build support for a network of victim services that reaches all people, regardless of age or disability. I hope you will join me.

Additional resources:

greenlee-125Kathy Greenlee is the Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator of the Administration for Community Living (ACL) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). ACL brings together into a single entity the Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability, and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities. Ms. Greenlee was appointed by President Obama as Assistant Secretary for Aging and confirmed by the Senate in June 2009. Prior to her service at HHS, she served as Secretary of Aging in Kansas, and before that as the Kansas State Long Term Care Ombudsman. A champion for the wellbeing, dignity, and independence of all persons, regardless of age and disability, Assistant Secretary Greenlee began her career as a domestic violence and sexual assault advocate in Kansas. Concurrently serving as a member of the state attorney general’s Victims’ Rights Task Force, she served as the Executive Director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Ms. Greenlee is a graduate of the University of Kansas with degrees in business administration and law.


How I #SeeDV: Crayton Webb

DVAM-webbI remember distinctly the moment that I finally got it. That I understood. The moment when I realized that violence against women was more than just an issue the company I work for had taken on as a priority philanthropic cause nearly twenty years ago. That it was my issue, my problem. That it was a man’s issue. All of a sudden, for me it was finally personal.

I was fortunate not to have grown up in a home with domestic violence. Had never been in a relationship where violence was prevalent. I was, and am, blessed to be in a loving marriage with three healthy, happy, and often rambunctious and loud, little boys.

The story I read in the newspaper that particular morning suddenly made it all seem very real. The story was about a young man from a prominent and wealthy Dallas family who didn’t take no for an answer one night. The teenager and his girlfriend had been making-out in the back seat of his car; he didn’t stop when she said, “STOP,” and he was being charged with rape. How unbelievably awful! Her life scarred and potentially ruined. And his too, for that matter. How could he do this? Why didn’t he stop? Then the judgment came – how could he not know better? Why didn’t his parents, his dad, teach him better…talk to him? But maybe they did. And then the worst thought yet: oh God, what if my boys ever did something like that?

All of these horrific scenes flashed through my head of one of my now sweet little boys, grown up and more than misbehaving: hurting another person, hurting a woman. And then suddenly, it was all clear to me. It hit home. This is our problem! This is our issue! There is no violence against women—no domestic violence, no dating abuse—without the abuser. And that’s us! We men are the problem! And how scary, how truly horrific, that the only role we men have played in this issue up until now, is being the problem!

Men must have another role, a larger part to play in the fight to end domestic violence. What I’ve come to fully understand since I read that article nearly three years ago, is that it’s just not enough for us men to be good guys. It’s not enough for us to not abuse our spouse, girlfriend or loved one. It’s just not enough to read articles every day about women who are hurt in our society by men who say they love them and for us to close the page and say, “What a shame, glad I’m not that type of guy.”

Don’t get me wrong, there are many men—some who are quite organized, articulate and vocal—that have been speaking loudly and passionately about ending violence against women for some time. They have been and will continue to be champions. They get it. But the majority of men—the majority of people, in fact—do not get the role of men here. We men have a larger part to play in ending violence against women, and it’s more than just not being abusive. I understand that talk is cheap and real change comes with action. But I’ve come to believe that the biggest job we men have in ending violence against women is just that: talk. Talking to our sons about what it means to be a gentleman; talking to our daughters about what they should expect and not accept in a relationship; and, perhaps most important of all, talking to each other—other men—about what it means to be a real man.

It takes a lot of courage for a man to speak up to another man and say, “I see the way you talk to your girlfriend. It’s not okay. In fact, it’s completely unacceptable.” It takes courage for a man to say to another, “I know you hit your wife and I want nothing to do with you.”

Courage? Really? How hard could it really be for a man to speak up when confronted with an opportunity to do something, you ask? But here’s the problem. We tell ourselves stories. We tell ourselves that we don’t know the circumstances. We weren’t there. We don’t really know the situation. We shouldn’t interfere. We don’t want to judge. We might offend our buddy if we speak up to him about such a personal matter. Offend him?

The fact is that it’s offensive that in the year 2014 one in four women and one in three girls will experience abuse at the hand of a man who says he loves her! It’s offensive that a child would grow up in a home with domestic violence thinking that abuse is a normal part of relationships. And it’s offensive the only role men have played is as the abuser!

The message must be clear and simple: A REAL MAN WILL NEVER HURT A WOMAN! Period. End of story! Now, let’s start talking!

webb-125Crayton Webb is Vice President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for Dallas, Texas based Mary Kay Inc. Crayton 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, #itsoffensive), and was recently appointed to the board of the Texas Council on Family Violence in Austin, Texas. Follow Crayton on Twitter: @craytonwebb.


I #SeeDV and Firearms as a Lethal Combination: Rob Valente

DVAM-valenteDomestic and dating violence and firearms are a lethal combination. Researchers say that just the presence of a gun in a home where domestic violence is taking place (no matter who owns the gun) increases the risk of homicide by a factor of five. About one-third of female homicide victims are killed as a result of domestic violence; 3% of male victims of domestic violence are killed by an intimate partner. The greatest risk of intimate partner homicide is when an abuser has access to a gun and has threatened the victim or others with the gun.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which tracks homicide data, reports that more intimate partner homicides are committed by dating partners than by spouses. And those numbers are increasing.

Yet studies also show that, where states had laws prohibiting persons subject to protection orders from possessing firearms, firearms homicides of intimate partners went down by 12-13%.

What is often lost in all the data is that abusers use guns not just to kill their intimate partners, but also to intimidate, terrorize, and manipulate them. Some abusers intimidate their dating partners by simply saying, “I went out and bought a gun yesterday.” If there is already abuse in the relationship, that statement is far more complex than it sounds. It’s a way of telling the victimized partner, “I have the means to kill you whenever I want.”

In other cases, the abuser may threaten to use a firearm to kill the partner’s children or their pet if the intimate partner tries to leave. Another form of abuse is when the abuser threatens to commit suicide if the victim leaves. All of these actions are meant to intimidate the intimate partner and control their behavior, and the abuser actually uses or threatens to use a firearm to make the point.

Because firearms are so dangerous, these forms of abuse should not be ignored. It’s important for a victim experiencing these threats to reach out to a helpline, like loveisrespect or the National Domestic Violence Hotline, to find a local program that can help the victim figure out the safest response to these threats.

Recently, the Hotline and the loveisrespect surveyed callers about firearms and got some startling answers.

Of those who answered the survey:

  • 25% said their partner pointed the gun at them or others
  • 30% said their partner left the gun out to create a feeling of fear
  • When asked if they knew that the court may be able to order their partner to surrender their firearms and ammunition, only 34% of the participants said they were aware of this.
  • Nearly 52% said they would feel safer if law enforcement took their partner/spouse/ex’s firearms.
  • At least 67% believe their partner is capable of killing them.

The stories that the survey participants told were even more chilling:

  • One caller shared the story about her husband who sleeps with loaded guns under his pillow. One night, she woke to the sound of him releasing the safety next to her head. His guns, she said, are regularly used to threaten her and abuse her.
  • One woman said that her partner shot her while she sat in her car. Another said her husband threatened to shoot her in the face. One of the women said her partner put a gun in his mouth while talking to her on Skype. In another case, a husband recorded a video of how he would kill himself with his gun if she left him. He even showed her the bullets he would use.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, think about whether firearms violence might be a concern. Any use or threatened use of firearms by the abuser against the victim, children, pets, family members, friends, or workplace acquaintances must be taken seriously. The mere presence of firearms raises the risk of death so greatly that it is important to reach out for outside help. Call the Hotline, contact loveisrespect, or reach out to your local domestic violence program to develop a safety plan and to figure out how you will handle these threats.

valente-125Rob (Roberta) Valente is a Policy Consultant for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, with specialized interests in firearms, federal domestic violence laws and interventions, and tribal issues relating to domestic violence. She was one of the national coordinators of legislative work to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. Ms. Valente also serves as a consultant on civil legal issues regarding domestic violence for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and the National Congress of American Indians.