power control coercion

From “Broken” Condoms to Pill Tampering: The Realities of Reproductive Coercion

In season one of “Desperate Housewives,” the couple Carlos and Gaby can’t agree on whether or not they should have a baby. Carlos, anxious to start a family, replaces Gaby’s birth control with sugar pills, which leads to her getting pregnant. Five seasons (and some children) later, Carlos has again tricked Gabby, and confesses that he didn’t actually have a vasectomy as he’d told her he had.

While there are a lot of outlandish storylines in the show, this one isn’t far from reality for some couples. Unfortunately, these scenarios don’t just happen onscreen, and there’s a name for them: reproductive coercion. Both men and women can coerce their partners, as seen in Carlos and Gaby’s relationship, into being at risk to have — or actually having — a baby.

Reproductive coercion is a form of power and control where one partner strips the other of the ability to control their own reproductive system. It is sometimes difficult to identify this coercion because other forms of abuse are often occurring simultaneously.

Reproductive coercion can be exerted in many ways:

  • Refusing to use a condom or other type of birth control
  • Breaking or removing a condom during intercourse
  • Lying about their methods of birth control (ex. lying about having a vasectomy, lying about being on the pill)
  • Refusing to “pull out” if that is the agreed upon method of birth control
  • Forcing their partner to not use any birth control (ex. the pill, condom, shot, ring, etc.)
  • Removing birth control methods (ex. rings, IUDs, contraceptive patches)
  • Sabotaging birth control methods (ex. poking holes in condoms, tampering with pills or flushing them down the toilet)
  • Withholding finances needed to purchase birth control
  • Monitoring their partner’s menstrual cycles
  • Purposefully trying to pass on a sexually transmitted disease
  • Forcing pregnancy and/or not supporting their partner’s decision about when or if they want to have a child
  • Forcing their partner to get an abortion, or preventing them from getting one
  • Threatening their partner or acting violent if they don’t comply with their wishes to either end or continue a pregnancy
  • Continually keeping their partner pregnant (getting them pregnant again shortly after they give birth)

If an abuser forces their partner to become pregnant, this is not necessarily about the outcome of the pregnancy but rather about the control and power an abuser holds over their partner and their partner’s body.

Reproductive coercion can also come in the form of pressure, guilt and shame from an abuser. Some examples are if your abuser is constantly talking about having children or making you feel guilty for not having or wanting children with them — especially if you already have kids with someone else.

In 2011 The Hotline conducted the first national survey to learn the extent of reproductive coercion. The findings were shocking. Over 3,000 callers participated in the survey and 25% reported that they had experienced this type of abuse.

Safety Plan With an Advocate and Your Gynecologist or Doctor

If you call The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, an advocate can help you develop strategies to address your situation. A gynecologist or health care provider can also be a useful resource, especially in helping you conceal contraceptive methods if this is an issue. Doctors can give birth control pills in plain envelopes for example, or provide less detectable forms of contraceptive. Some of these options include a shot, an implant or an IUD with the strings trimmed.

If you have a positive STI test result and are afraid of how your partner will react, you can speak with your doctor about anonymous partner notification services.

Further Resources

Know More Say More: Futures Without Violence’s awareness campaign around reproductive coercion and domestic violence

leaving safely

Leaving Safely – Part 2

In addition to packing and planning, there are a few other measures you can take to safeguard against potential problems that may arise when you’re leaving. As we see on today’s Dr. Phil episode, “Saving Julie: The Final Decision,” getting out of an abusive relationship is a dangerous, difficult time, and it is important to plan and have a support system in place.

Digital Safety

Don’t disclose any personal information online about your plans. If you’re making plans for leaving and communicating about it via a computer or cell phone, access a computer from the library or a friend’s house, or remember to clear your browser history. Make sure to tell friends to not post anything about your whereabouts online.

Don’t answer threatening or excessive texts or calls while you leave and after you’ve left. Let them go to voicemail. This also could be used to document the abuse — for example, 50 missed calls? Take a screen shot of that.

Cell phones can be tracked via GPS. Try a “throw away phone” or perhaps plan to get a new one and leave your old phone behind.

What about protective orders? 

A protective order is legal documentation to keep your abuser away from you, and can often contain provisions related to custody, finance, and more. However, these will require you to see your abuser in court, and are not always highly enforced. In this episode we see Danny describing how he broke a protective order and attacked his ex-girlfriend and a man she was with.

While protective orders may be able to put a stop to physical abuse, psychological abuse is still possible — so a protective order should never replace a safety plan.

Our advocates can speak to you about how a protective order works, as well as direct you to legal advocates that can provide you with specific information about this based on where you’re living. Different states have different processes for a protective order. Check out Women’s Law for more info.

If you already have a protective order, it should be kept on you at all times — as well as given to your children and anyone they might be with — especially when you’re leaving your abuser.

After You Leave

Consider making a “false trail.” For example, call motels far away from where you plan on being. Do this after you leave, otherwise it could tip off the abuser that you’re planning on leaving, which could be dangerous.

Remember that leaving will likely be difficult, and it’s important to have support and a plan in place. If you feel like leaving might be an option, give us a call at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) to discuss options.

Our advocates at The Hotline are here for you to help create a safety plan for leaving as well as after you’ve left, and to make sure you have ongoing emotional support afterwards.

leaving safely

Leaving Safely – Part 1

“The only way we are ever leaving each other is when we both die in our 80s.”

On an episode of Dr. Phil this afternoon called “A Violent Love Intervention,” we hear that that frightening threat from a man named Danny to his girlfriend Julie. Julie has come forward to speak about the physical and emotional abuse she’s been enduring for two-and-a-half years.

There are many reasons victims stay with their abusers, and countless obstacles to leaving — it’s often the most dangerous time in the relationship.

When we talk about leaving an abusive partner, it’s important to realize that this is a personal choice. Only you can know if it’s the right decision for you at the time. If it is something that you’re thinking about doing, there are steps you can take to prepare and ensure your safety.

Remember that preparation is key.

Set aside money, even in small amounts adding up over time, and hide it somewhere safe or have a family member or friend hold onto it for you.

If it’s safe, consider starting your own savings or checking account, and use a family or friend’s address to open it.

Get as much information as you can before you leave — call us and we can connect you to your local domestic violence programs to see what they offer (in terms of legal advice, counseling, etc.) Learn about your different options.

Know your abuser’s schedule and plan out a safe time to leave when they won’t be around. Don’t feel that you have to tell them that you’re leaving or feel that they should be there when you make your exit. They may try to make you stay if they get the chance.

Know where you’re headed, such as a local shelter or family member or friend’s house. Have all the contact numbers for these places.

If you’re planning a quick getaway, back your car into the driveway, and make sure to keep it fueled. Consider having a spare set of keys for the car.

Have a packed bag ready to go. Keep it hidden somewhere, such as in a trunk of your car, or even at work or a family or friend’s house. Bring:

  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • ID and social security cards
  • Keys
  • School and medical records (for yourself and children)
  • Passports, green cards, work permits
  • Protective orders, divorce papers, custody orders
  • Bank papers and credit cards
  • Important pictures or keepsakes
  • Any documentation of the abuse (journals, photos)
  • A list of important phone numbers
  • Clothing for yourself and your children
  • Titles, deeds and other property information

If you have children, inform the school about what is going on.

As seen in today’s Dr. Phil episode, leaving is a scary time. If you’re planning on leaving, ease some of your fears by making a plan and preparing for when the time comes. You can always plan your exit strategy with an advocate by calling us at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233).

What did you think of today’s episode? If you’re a survivor and successfully left your abuser, what tips do you have for leaving safely?

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

What Did You Think of Pink’s AMA Performance?

The musical artist Pink has recieved a lot of attention for her Sunday night performance of the song “Try” at the American Music Awards. Her performance was modeled after the music video for “Try” where she and a male dancer depict an unhealthy relationship.

It is an incredible performance, but it’s not hard to see that Pink and her partner are smashing glass, pulling hair and strangling, pushing and kicking each other. The couple is even surrounded by flames.

Watch it here:

We asked a few of our advocates to chime in with what they thought of Pink’s performance. Does it promote violence or does it encourage awareness of unhealthy relationships? Is it helpful or harmful for those experiencing abuse? Does this help us become more honest about relationships?

Here’s what our advocates had to say. Please let us know what you thought of Pink’s performance in the comments below.

Truthfully, the video make me nervous because we work with people who are hurt, but I also see this as a great opportunity to learn and talk about dating violence and domestic violence. Anything that brings it out into the public sphere is good — we need to bring the reality of domestic violence out of the dark.

I was surprised to see how aggressive the dancing interactions were between Pink and the male dancer. It felt uncomfortable to watch; like it was artful dance at points, but punctuated by aggressive hair pulls and pushing.

I think there are a lot of ways that violence is promoted in media, and for those not involved in the domestic violence field, this performance may not have been that alarming. It may have just been seen as a passionate dance between two people, punctuated by aggression and lyrics that say just “try try try.” But try to what? Make things work? This almost reminded me of that Eminem and Rihanna video where the song had really alarming lyrics. It could spark conversation but I don’t know if in the same way.

I watched the video, and while it was a very skillful performance, I think what it says about relationships is a little sloppy.

If you look just at the dance performance itself, it reminds you of what you need for a relationship to work. You need shared responsibility, trust, support, and communication. In order for Pink’s performance to be so strong, she needed all that from her dance partner. For a relationship to work and flourish, we need those key ingredients as well.

The underlying message of the song “Try” seems to be that you need to keep trying in a relationship, even if it hurts you or your partner. The reality is that relationships should not be painful. When dancers feel pain, they don’t continue to do the same thing, because they recognize that they will become permanently injured. Similarly, if even one thing about your relationship makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, you can call our Hotline to talk about it.

We all deserve to feel safe and supported by our partners, whether we’re dancing or just watching Pink dance on TV.

This performance covers many aspects in a relationship. You are able to see how the passion in a bad relationship may be the thing that keeps someone from walking away and giving up. This performance is good in that people who just say, “You should leave him” don’t understand that there are times when it’s not abusive. Often when deciding to leave, the victim is not just looking at the abuse. They might be looking at the person they are losing and what they have been through with them. I think Pink’s performance demonstrates this feeling.

For me, the 2:05 point in the video is the most powerful part. He tries to leave through the door and is confronted by the uncertainty and the danger of being alone in the flames that are outside. Then Pink looks in the mirror and does not like what she sees in herself and her behavior (after picking him up by the hair). She is frustrated and angry about who she has become and is also met by flames. In the end, they both turn back into one another.

This just shows how hard it is for someone to leave an abusive relationship, but also for the person who has hurt someone to change. And in the end, we have to look back at what we are with the person and have to decide what we want to be.

I believe that this is art and is not promoting violence. It allows people to see the range of what goes on in relationships, both for men and women, and as both the aggressor and the victim.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Chad Johnson Arrested for Domestic Violence – A Lesson in Consequences

This week news broke that Chad Johnson, aka Ochocinco, was arrested for domestic violence charges on Saturday after allegedly headbutting his wife Evelyn Lozada in an argument.

The fallout from Saturday’s events have been significant. Not only was Johnson released from his contract with the Miami Dolphins, his firing was even filmed and aired for all of America to see on the HBO’s show, “Hard Knocks.” Lozada and Johnson had already filmed their own reality TV show called “Ev and Ocho” but following Saturday’s arrest, VH1 announced their decision to not air the show. Johnson has already lost endorsement deals as a result, and is likely to lose more in the coming months.

Lozada has since filled for divorce and issued a public statement, expressing her disappointment that Johnson had not accepted responsibility for his actions.

Johnson also released a statement, saying:

I would like to apologize to everyone for the recent events that have occurred. I would like to wish Evelyn well and will never say anything bad about her because I truly love her to death. I will continue to be positive and train hard for another opportunity in the NFL. To all the fans and supporters I have disappointed, you have my sincerest apologies. I will stay positive and get through this tough period in my life.  

This high profile situation reminds us that anyone, no matter age, race or financial status, can experience domestic violence. It can happen in any relationship. It causes us to reflect on the issue and explore how we understand domestic violence in our communities.

The consequences of Johnson’s behaviors have been heavily discussed in articles about the arrest. Within the span of a week, he lost his wife, his job, his reputation and more. This was a major reminder of what an abuser has to lose when he or she acts violently towards a partner. Abuse is always about power and control. Through Johnson exerting power over one person, he lost control over most other aspects of his life.

For Lozada, we wish healing and support. If you or someone you know experiences abuse, please remember that you can always call The Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

(Photo by Daniel X. O’Neil)

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Teen Mom Features The Hotline

A recent episode of Teen Mom showed a family experiencing domestic violence. Teen parents Catelynn and Tyler have a unique situation. Catelynn’s mom April and Tyler’s dad Butch got married after Catelynn and Tyler started dating in middle school. Butch has been physically and emotionally abusive to April prior to this incident.

In the episode, April called Tyler to alert him to an incident that involved Butch assaulting her after suspecting that she was talking  to another man. Butch was arrested, and April told Tyler that she was unsure of their future together. Tyler and Catelynn were immediately concerned and rushed over to April to find out what happened.

Photo from, Tyler at Catelynn from a previous episode

As the episode progressed, it became clear that the evening was incredibly violent, leaving April with bruises and pain. Butch had violated a “no contact” order in coming over to April’s home.

Despite the horrible details of the assault, April didn’t place all of the blame on Butch. She was quick to mention that Butch wasn’t himself because of drugs and alcohol. She told Tyler, “I really can’t say that I’m gonna leave him or anything like that because I really don’t know. He wasn’t there, dude, it wasn’t your dad.”

She also maintained hope that he will change, saying, “I honestly think if he’ll do his time, the drinking and the drugging is going to stop.”

Sadly, at The Hotline, we know that experiences like April’s are all too common. It’s not unusual for abusive partners to be extremely jealous, and accuse their partners of cheating, even when that is so far from the truth. We know that children and teens are dealing with the aftermath of abuse every day in their homes, just like Tyler and Catelynn.

April had a hard time deciding what to do in her relationship. An issue that complicated April’s decision-making process is Butch’s substance abuse. Again, this is an issue that is all too common in abusive relationships, and it makes it challenging to understand why someone becomes violent.

A common misconception is that using alcohol and drugs can make someone ‘lose control’ and hurt those around them. Even if Butch was able to get clean and sober, it’s likely that he would still be controlling and abusive. Alcohol and drug use can make abusive situations worse, but it doesn’t cause a non-abusive, non-controlling person to become violent.

Just as April said, it’s very likely that when Butch attacked her, he looked like a different person than the person she fell in love with. But, despite his drug use, Butch was still responsible for how he hurt April. Naturally, April wants to see Butch get the help that he needs so that she can be in a healthy, safe relationship with him, but he would need to accept responsibility for his substance abuse and his controlling and abusive behavior and be committed to getting help for both in order to change. Getting help for substance abuse and domestic violence would require a lot of personal accountability and determination.

When an abusive partner is using drugs or alcohol, there is an increased risk of severe physical violence. It’s really important to be aware of how the substance use affects their behavior. Do they become more aggressive or violent when they’re using or when they’re in withdrawal? This can help survivors know the risks of a situation and take steps to become safer in the moment.

If you have some concerns about similar issues happening in your relationship, you can always call The Hotline to talk. An advocate at The Hotline can help you think about what’s going on in your relationship, what the risks are to your safety and your children’s safety, and what you can do to stay safe.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Final Thoughts on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

We wanted our posts about the RHOBH to reach survivors, victims and bystanders alike in order to spark conversations about how we deal with abuse when we see it happen in our own lives and in the lives of our friends.

We did not get the chance to finish our discussion (we launched a new, hosted an event in LA, led James Brown on a tour, and many other exciting endeavors), so we wanted to take a moment today to conclude our thoughts on what was an emotional season of this show, not only for those involved but also the viewers at home who found parallels between their lives and the housewives’ when it came to domestic violence.

Believe Your Friends

How many times did we hear the phrase, “Unless I see it…” in regards to Taylor’s abuse this season? So. Many. Times. The friends had a really hard time believing that their friend could be experiencing something so horrific. Unfortunately, this is a really common phenomenon for most victims of domestic violence.

If you are a friend who is struggling to believe, please consider how hard it must have been for your friend to disclose that fact. Victims often are isolated from their friends and family and have had their self-esteem lessened. Believe what he/she says.

Still really struggling to believe? Consider what you know of the couple. Does your friend’s partner display issues with power and control? In the case of Taylor, we had seen Russell show warning signs. He told her when to leave parties. He dictated what happened in the household (remember the dog incident?) and Taylor was often talking about her marriage trouble. Think back to these signs when you find yourself wanting to voice your doubt.

Your Friend’s Safety Should Trump Winning an Argument

Watching Taylor climb into the limo with Russell after being denied entry at Kyle’s party in episode 16, “Uninvited,” made us nervous. Abuse is not rational. Just because Taylor was not truly responsible for getting turned away at the door did not mean that Russell would see it that way. He could have held it against her, or “punished” her when they were back home.

The way the group handled the situation was ill-advised. While they may have had the right to turn the couple away, their method was questionable. They brought the issue up to Russell, reminding him that Taylor herself had told Camille the secrets in the first place. It was risky for Taylor to leave with him, considering he was embarrassed and might strike back to regain power.

In this situation, though it may have made the friends feel better to not have strife between Camille and Russell, they didn’t recognize the danger they placed Taylor in by either making her explain why she shared the info in the first place or by having Russell blame her for the situation.

If you have a friend who is being abused, their safety should trump friend dynamics. Be a watch-guard for them. You can’t fix your friend’s situation, but you can watch your actions and be mindful of potential danger you may place them in, especially if their abuser is around.

It Can Take Many Times for a Victim to Leave

We also heard the common refrain of “Why doesn’t she just leave?” at multiple points of the season. We don’t blame the friends for wondering this because it’s hard to see a friend in pain, and as a society, we tend to oversimplify relationships. It is so difficult for a victim to leave because of a variety of reasons spanning from emotional to financial.

We want to point out that it is not uncommon for a victim to try to leave before leaving for good. Even then, the victim may still love the abuser. Russell was the father of Taylor’s child, her attachment to him was incredibly strong. It is completely normal and justified that she should struggle with leaving the marriage.

In conclusion, it’s easy to analyze what’s happening in these relationships because we are not the ones living them. We wish nothing but healing and peace for all of the Housewives and their families as they recover from the experiences of this time in their lives. Our hearts especially go out to Taylor and Kennedy as they move forward.

We hope our discussion of these episodes helped you in some way. We only seek to empower you with information. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, please contact us so that we can connect you to resources in your area. Please call 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224 today.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

RHOBH Recap: Taylor’s Therapy & Why We Don’t Recommend It

Did you catch Monday’s episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Quick recap for those who missed it, we watched the Housewives going along with their lives — Lisa planning her daughter’s wedding, Adrienne fussing over her shoe line debut, and Kyle and Brandi going for manicures. The scene we found ourselves drawn to most, however, was Taylor and Russell’s very real therapy session.

It was hard to watch.

The therapist brought up the topics of Russell’s anger, his aggression and his desire to hurt Taylor when they’re arguing. The therapist didn’t specify in which way Russell hurts his wife, so we are not clear if the therapist is referring to physical, verbal/emotional abuse or other. Russell contributed that it wasn’t pretty when he was angry, a comment that seemed too casual for the topic at hand. Russell left the session early to attend a business meeting.

We bring up this scene to discuss what may surprise some of our readers.

We at the hotline do not encourage anyone in an abusive relationship to seek counseling with their partner. Abuse is not a relationship problem. While there can be benefits for couples who undergo couple’s therapy, there’s a great risk for any person who is being abused to attend therapy with their abusive partner.

Relationship counseling can help partners understand each other, resolve difficult problems, and even help the couple gain a different perspective on their situation. It cannot, however, fix the unequal power structure that is characteristic of an abusive relationship.

An abuser may use what is said in therapy later against their partner. Therapy can make a person feel vulnerable. If the abuser is embarrassed or angered by something said in therapy, he or she may make their partner suffer to gain back the sense of control. Therapy is often considered a “safe space” for people to talk. For an abused partner, that safety doesn’t necessarily extend to their home.

Couples often enter couple’s therapy to fix their relationship. Deciding whether or not the relationship is better is extremely hard for a couple if one is being abused. The abuser has all of the power and can no longer gauge if a relationship is getting better because he/she does not see what their partner sees. The abused partner often cannot even rate how bad or good the relationship is because the abuse has affected him/her. We saw this happen in the episode. Russell even tried to control the evaluation of therapy, declaring that he thought they were progressing. Taylor responded saying that while they were working on it, they weren’t quite to a good place just yet.

Another reason that couple’s therapy or counseling is not recommended is that the facilitator may not know about the abuse, which would make the entire process ineffective. The abuser may make their partner seem responsible for the problems, and if the therapist does not realize that abuse is present, her or she may believe the abuser.

If you or someone you know is considering entering therapy with an abusive partner, please have them call us at the hotline. We can talk to them, and give them a judgment-free sounding board for their hopes and concerns about the process.

Here’s an interview Taylor did on KTLA in which she says that the reality show may have even saved her life.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

The Hotline Gives Thanks

This has been a big year for The Hotline. We want to thank every caller who reached out and every friend or stranger who helped them overcome domestic violence, one step at a time.

Our callers
We are so thankful that you found the courage to pick up your phone and ask for help. The Hotline received a record number of calls this year, which means that a record number of people sought help from domestic violence; a step towards safety and happiness. Your stories have moved us and have further empowered us to continue the work we do.

Brave bystanders
By choosing to act, you stood up against domestic violence and may have even saved a life. As a stranger, speaking up may have felt uncomfortable, but your courage helped create change and showed someone that they are not alone.

Supportive family and friends
Thank you for your loyalty to someone who may have felt lost or alone during their difficult situation. We want to recognize your dedication to ending domestic violence and your patience along the way. Having a strong support system is one of the most important parts of overcoming relationship violence—thanks for being a pillar of strength for your loved one.

Vice President Biden’s 1 is 2 Many Campaign
We’d like to extend a thanks to Vice President Biden for his continued efforts to raise awareness of the issue. His 1 is 2 Many campaign has brought much-needed attention to dating abuse on college campuses. We would also like to thank him for his support of the National Dating Abuse Helpline, especially in his promotion of their new texting service.

Media outlets that shared real stories of domestic violence
We are so excited to have been included in the conversations around domestic violence as depicted on television this year. Networks like Bravo showed the affects of domestic violence on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Entertainment Tonight even aired an exposé about domestic violence, where viewers heard from survivors directly. These television specials helped women watching recognize unhealthy behaviors and helped start a dialogue about how to end domestic violence.

Lastly, we want to thank all of you who are reading this. By visiting our site, you are educating yourself about domestic violence and can spread the message to others. Thank you for taking an interest in our services and the domestic violence movement. We hope you will have a safe and healthy holiday spent with loved ones.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

RHOBH: “But Now We’ve Said It”

On tonight’s episode “Tempest in a Tea Party,” a heated discussion amongst the wives about loyalty and friendship turned into an unexpected intervention for Taylor Armstrong about her marriage. The housewives agree that they all want to protect Taylor, but they also admit to feelings of confusion about how to handle the situation as friends of both Taylor and Russell.

Taylor was visibly anxious during the initial conversation with Lisa and when the subject of her marriage arose, Taylor becomes uncomfortable and even asks “Why are we talking about this?” Though Taylor is unsure of who her real friends are, the housewives repeatedly confess feeling scared for her.

We know there is no handbook for helping a friend or family member who is experiencing abuse. The housewives may not have supported Taylor the way we would have, but they did show concern for her safety and happiness, which is important. There were a few moments during the intervention that we wanted to pull out and talk about how they could have gone differently.

“You say that he’s leaving you, but then you’re getting on a plane with him.”
Camille tells the girls about Taylor coming over and talking for three hours about her struggle with her marriage and then is surprised when Taylor announces at the end of their conversation that she is going on a trip with her husband.  Camille is obviously worried about Taylor’s safety, but seems to blame her for putting herself in an unsafe situation. Many believe that abusive relationships are easy to leave and that the abuse ends as soon as the victim has left. Unfortunately, the reality is that, on average, a victim takes multiple tries to leave an abusive relationship. We appreciate Camille’s concern for Taylor, but we wish she had been more understanding of Taylor’s difficult position.

“Russell’s always been lovely to me.”
All of the housewives seem to have a good relationship with Taylor’s husband. Abusive partners can be charming and friendly in person, so this isn’t surprising. However, Taylor has shared several instances of abusive behavior with her fellow housewives. Seeing through an abuser’s façade requires a critical eye. We understand that the women have never seen Russell as unkind but we wish they took Taylor’s confessions to heart.

“Unless I’ve seen it with my own eyes, I can’t say.”
Kyle does not feel comfortable taking a side between two of her close friends when she has not witnessed the alleged abuser as a threat. She is also suspicious that Taylor may be exaggerating her stories about her marriage. Victims of abuse frequently do not come forward about their experiences because they fear they won’t be believed. Taylor was courageous for sharing her situation with her friends; however, her fears were realized in this episode when her struggle was not taken seriously. This can be especially dangerous if the abuse continues or worsens because Taylor will not trust anyone to support her. We recognize that Kyle was trying to be diplomatic by not believing what she had not physically seen, but we wish that she would have believed her friend and validated her feelings.

We would like to thank Bravo for airing this footage and we hope that viewers will feel more comfortable talking about domestic violence in their own lives.

Are you in a position where you need to support someone in an abusive relationship? Find more information about helping a friend or family member who is experiencing abuse or contact The Hotline and an advocate can help you figure out your next step.


National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

RHOBH: What Kyle Sees Isn’t What Taylor Gets

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

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

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

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

This situation between Kyle and Russell is very typical.

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Letter from the President

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

In October of 1981, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence organized a “Day of Unity.” On that day, thirty years ago, advocates from across the country joined together in their commitment to end domestic violence. The “Day of Unity” evolved into a full week of activities designed to promote awareness, and that week gradually progressed into the Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The first official Domestic Violence Awareness Month was held in October of 1987; it preceded the launch of the National Domestic Violence Hotline by nearly a decade. The Hotline was fortunate to enter into such a rich tradition, and year by year, we are honored to provide a platform for some of the most important voices in the movement: survivors, advocates, friends, and families. Every year, Domestic Violence Awareness Month holds a special place in our hearts. Its mission mirrors the mission that we strive to uphold 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: to give hope and a voice to those who have been affected by domestic violence across the nation. To date, the Hotline has held space for over 2.5 million voices, and we continue to receive over 22,500 calls per month.

On October 4th, the Hotline has the privilege to join the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence in the 2011 National Call of Unity. Much like the “Day of Unity” thirty years ago, the National Call of Unity continues in the vital tradition of honoring those affected by intimate partner violence across the nation and uniting the advocates working on their behalf. We will hear from Kalyn Risker, founder of SAFE: Sisters Acquiring Financial Empowerment, as she shares the story of her own incredible journey. Then, following a collective moment of silence, artists Sunni Patterson and Asia Rainey will share a dramatic recitation they have prepared for the occasion.

In addition, this month we celebrate with The National Dating Abuse Helpline and Break the Cycle, who just launched the new now offers 24 hour advocacy for those experiencing dating abuse, and we are excited to announce that help is now available via text! On September 27th the service was first used by Vice President Joe Biden, and on September 28th this breakthrough was featured on “The View.” The website is also full of new features and information, including new segments for those in the LGBTQ community, those seeking legal assistance, and those experiencing digital abuse.

Thank you so much for your support – past, present, and future – of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and It is an honor to serve those affected by domestic and dating abuse, and it is to our continued delight that we are able to share in this work with you.





Katie Ray Jones
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Dating Abuse Helpline