Ray Rice, the NFL, and What We Know About Domestic Violence

no-excuseThe recent events and media coverage surrounding Ray Rice and the NFL have created a powerful swell of conversation about domestic violence. Many people are speaking outsharing personal stories, and calling for less victim-blaming and more accountability for abusers and their public enablers. While we are outraged by the stories we hear daily at the Hotline, we are heartened by the support of so many people who recognize that there is no excuse for abuse.

Often, a lack of understanding about the dynamics of abuse leads to misguided comments and notions about why victims stay with their abusive partners, or how domestic violence isn’t that pervasive of an issue (because it’s so often hidden from the public). At the Hotline, there are a few things we know for sure about domestic violence:

Domestic violence happens everyday, in every community. Studies show that domestic violence affects roughly 12 million people in the United States. However, abuse is often not reported, in many cases due to a victim’s fear or not knowing where to turn. Maybe you know someone – a friend, a family member, a coworker – who is experiencing abuse at home with their partner. Maybe you’re experiencing it yourself. Whatever the case, please know that help is out there.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or religion.

Domestic violence isn’t just physical abuse. The media tends to focus on physical abuse, but domestic violence includes emotional, verbal, sexual, and/or financial abuse.

Domestic violence is complex. Each person’s situation is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to domestic violence. There are many reasons victims stay in abusive relationships. What they need – what they deserve – are resources and support to help them find their own paths to safety.

Domestic violence is not the victim’s fault. The choice to be abusive lies solely with the abusive partner.

We believe that ALL people deserve to feel safe and respected in their relationships. If you or someone you know needs help, we are here to support you. Contacts to the Hotline are anonymous and confidential. Call us 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or chat here on our website Monday through Friday, 9am-7pm CT.

$20 covers the total cost of one phone call to the Hotline, and one phone call can be life-changing. If you would like to show your support for domestic violence victims and survivors with a donation, please fill out our secure online donation form. Thank you!

abuse isn't a cycle

Is Abuse Really a ‘Cycle’?

We use many different words when we’re describing abuse: systematic, power, control, pattern, purposeful. One word we don’t use when talking about abusive relationships is cycle.

This way of describing abuse began in the 1970s and today, the “cycle of abuse” is still talked about in courtrooms, therapist sessions, in the media and more. Here at The Hotline we don’t use that descriptor, for a variety of reasons. Here’s why:

To describe abuse as a cycle makes it seem like there are four predictable, repetitive steps of what is going on in any relationship at any given time:

1)    Tension-building

2)    Incident — often a physical altercation

3)    Reconciliation

4)    Calm

If abuse was a cycle, it would be predictable — you could know what to expect and when to expect it. But the reality about domestic violence is that it doesn’t happen that way. While there may be recognizable patterns going on in a relationship (ex. you know your partner tends to get more confrontational after going out drinking) the violence rarely occurs in a predictable cycle.

An important reason why we don’t use the term “cycle” is because it’s sometimes used to blame victims for the continuation of abuse.

In her essay “Reframing Domestic Violence Law and Policy,” Professor Leigh Goodmark writes,

“Describing abuse as a cycle becomes problematic when this language is co-opted to be used against victims, particularly in a court setting — ex. “Why didn’t you leave during the calm stage?”

No one ever asks to experience abuse. The fault lies with the abuser, not the victim, so it’s important that we don’t use language that blames the person suffering abuse.

The model that more accurately describes what occurs in an abusive relationship is The Duluth Model and its Power & Control Wheel. It explains the many tactics an abusive partner uses at any one time to establish and maintain power and control over their partner.

To learn more about why we don’t refer to abuse as a cycle, check out the video below of Ellen Pence, co-founder of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, speaking about the creation of a new model of understanding abuse.

Pence also helped to create the Power & Control wheel, which was developed through listening to the stories of people who had experienced different types of abuse.

On Monday we’re taking a spin around the Power & Control Wheel, which will shed some light on a more accurate way of describing what’s happening within abusive relationships.

Head back to the blog next week to learn more!

digital safety

Getting Digital to End Abuse

In light of the recent tragedies that occurred in Steubenville, Ohio, and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, it’s easy to feel like tech and social media is causing more problems than inspiring good.

While there have been examples of the two being used to harm, we’re also seeing social media and technology being used to prevent and spread awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault. Today, we’re taking a look at empowering apps, websites and projects that are changing the way we see abuse.

Apps Against Abuse

In 2011, Vice President Joe Biden launched the Apps Against Abuse challenge, calling on innovators to make mobile apps to prevent dating violence and abuse. Among the winning apps was Circle of 6, which uses texting to contact friends and employs GPS to tell them where you are. A new version has even been developed specifically for India, taking into account cultural differences, language and in-country resources.


Catcallers are called out publically with Hollaback!, which lets anyone who has experienced street harassment share their stories, images and videos on an interactive map that documents where the incident took place. With both web and mobile apps, this nonprofit is taking the streets by storm in 64 cities and 22 countries. They hope to soon have the capability to allow users to report directly to the NYC government.

Project Unbreakable

Featured on an episode of “Law & Order SVU” in which a campus quad of hundreds of students held up posters with quotes from their attackers, Project Unbreakable is an image-based project that has spread all over the country thanks to the power of the web. It began on Tumblr and has been named one of the Top 30 Tumblr blogs by TIME Magazine. The woman behind the project, Grace Brown, photographs survivors of sexual assault holding a poster with a quote from their attacker. She has taken images of over 400 people for this “art of healing” viral project.


While a hashtag can be co-opted to victim blame and spread hateful messages (such as Torrington, CT’s #FreeEdgar), it can also be a powerful social media tool to begin dialogues on a global scale. In 2012 a blogger from London Feminist sparked a Twitter movement with the hashtag #Ididnotreport. She expected it to be limited to users tweeting about what she described as “low level harassment” but people everywhere began using it, especially in relation to serious sexual assaults. The hashtag opened up discussion and built an instant community of people with similar experiences, while highlighting the vast problem of underreporting and the many reasons people don’t report.

loveisrespect online chat and texting service

The loveisrespect online chat and texting service allows teens to talk about their relationship directly to a peer advocate whenever and wherever they want. This lets young people communicate in what can sometimes be a more comfortable and safer manner than in person or on the phone. The loveisrespect text service was the first in the country of its kind, and the service was actually launched by a text message from Vice President Joe Biden himself. Visit to use the online chat, or text “loveis” to 22522 to message an advocate today.

Have you heard of any other organizations that are using social media and technology in the fight against domestic violence and sexual abuse? Sound off in the comments — we’d love to learn about them.

stay for the kids

50 Obstacles to Leaving: 21-30

“Why don’t you just leave the relationship?”

According to Sarah Buel: “This question has been fueled by those who believe that remaining with a batterer indicates stupidity, masochism, or codependence. Far from being accurate, such labels prove dangerous to victims because they tend to absolve batterers of responsibility for their crimes.

There are many different reasons that a victim may stay in an abusive relationship. This week to shed some light on the frequently asked question of why a victim doesn’t just leave, we’re taking a closer look at 50 different obstacles that prevent someone from leaving. Follow along on our blog throughout the week to read about all of them.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call us toll-free and confidentially at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) to speak confidentially with an advocate.

21. Keeping the Family Together: Victims believe it is in their children’s best interest to have their father or a male role model in the family.

22. Illiterate Victims: Illiterate victims may be forced to rely on the literate batterer for everyday survival.

23. Incarcerated or Newly Released Abuse Victims: Such victims often don’t have support systems to assist them with re-entry to the community. Parole officers may require that they return home if that appears to be a stable environment.

24. Law Enforcement Officer: If the perpetrator is a law enforcement officer, the victim may fear that other officers will refuse to assist or believe them if they come forward.

25. Lesbian and Gay Victims: Victims may feel silenced if disclosing their sexual orientation (to qualify for a protective order) could result in losing their job, family, and home.

26. Low Self-Esteem: Victims may believe they deserve no better than the abuse they receive.

27. Love: Since many batterers are initially charming, victims fall in love and may have difficulty altering their feelings with the first sign of a problem.

28. Mediation: Mediation can put the victim in the dangerous position of incurring the batterer’s wrath for disclosing the extent of the violence.

29. Medical Problems: The victim must stay with the batterer to obtain medical services, especially if they share insurance.

30. Mentally Ill Victims: Victims face negative societal stereotypes in addition to the batterer’s taunts that the victim is crazy and nobody will believe anything that they say.


Social Media Shaming: When Sexual Assault Goes “Viral”

“I have a reputation for a night I don’t even remember…I just want this to go away.”

That was one of the last things 15-year-old Audrie Potts posted on her Facebook before taking her own life after a photo of her assault was circulated to nearly the entire high school. It’s a familiar feeling for the many girls whose names have been made into headlines throughout the past months.

Seventeen-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons was taken off of life support following an attempt to take her own life after a photo of her assault was distributed all over cell phones and social media sites.

In Torrington, Connecticut, two male 18-year-olds were arrested and accused of the statutory rape of two 13-year-old girls. What followed was an attack on the young girls over Twitter and social media and a trending “#FreeEdgar” hashtag in support of the perpetrators.

In Steubenville, Ohio, Jane Doe didn’t know she had been sexually assaulted until she found out about it through videos uploaded to YouTube and images posted on Instagram. When the case went public, backlash on social media against her, the victim, was relentless.

Lately we’ve seen social media channels become venues for public shaming and sharing information without ones consent to large numbers of people. “Viral” shaming adds a new dimension to an already horrific situation — continued emotional abuse from not just the perpetrator, but any outsider who decides to “share” or chime in. In this way, even after an assault a perpetrator can still exert control over their victim, making them feel powerless. It can feel impossible to know how to make it end, and it can feel like there’s nowhere to turn for safety and privacy.

What can you do as an online “bystander”?

While there are tips for “how to stop compromising pictures of you being published online,” these pictures and videos can get posted anyways without your knowledge or consent. The person who holds responsibility is the one who posts the content.

Responsibility also falls on bystanders — people who see the image being taken, see the assault in action, view the image online, distribute it, or even just pass it by. If you witness an assault, what do you do? If you’re sent a picture, do you pass it on? Do you join in on the actions or victim shaming just to be a part of the joke?

Begin to hold yourself and those around you accountable for what’s being said and posted. If you see something, report it. On Facebook, use the report link that appears near the content to send a message to have it removed. Twitter also has different forms for reporting a violation. YouTube has a “Safety Center” for requesting videos to be flagged or removed.

If you know someone who is involved in a situation of online abuse, ask how you can help. Offer to document the abuse (by taking screen shots or tracking where it’s showing up online). It can be helpful to be a third party keeping track of what’s being said and shared, especially if charges will be pressed.

As a Victim

Different states have specific laws, but no matter where you are, taking some type of legal action is always an option. Document the content, because it can be used as evidence. Contact the bar association in your state to find an attorney who specializes in Internet privacy and rights. The organization Without My Consent discusses different courses of action.

No matter what you decide to do, safety plan for your emotional well being as content is circulating. Know that you can ask for help and do ask for help, because it’s too much to take on alone, especially when it can feel like you’re up against the entire world.

Do you have a trusted coworker, friend or counselor you can talk to? Building a support system is important — and there’s always someone to turn to. You shouldn’t go through this whole process alone.

RAINN has many resources, including the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE, and they offer free, confidential advice 24.7.

In the wake of these all-too-similar stories, it’s easy to feel helpless. We can honor the victims of these and other tragedies by taking social responsibility seriously — holding ourselves and others accountable for what’s said or posted, and starting productive dialogues.

Social media is what we make of it, and we have the ability to make it a powerful tool for change and positivity.

Further Reading:

“Revenge Porn: The Fight Against The Net’s Nastiest Corner” by Adam Steinbaugh

“Criminalizing ‘Revenge Porn’” by Tracy Clark-Flory

make a statement - denim day

Make a Fashion Statement – Tomorrow is Denim Day

In Italy in 1992, an 18-year-old girl was forcefully raped by her 45-year-old driving instructor. After she pressed charges, he was convicted and then appealed the sentence. The case made its way to the Italian Supreme Court where, within a few days, it was overturned and dismissed, and the perpetrator was released.

According to the judge, “…because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”

Enraged women in the Parliament began to protest by wearing jeans to work and this statement of action spread to the US, beginning in California. Now, every year since 1999, Peace Over Violence has been organizing Denim Day in the US, asking people to wear jeans as a visible statement of protest against sexual assault and the misconceptions that often accompany it.

Victim blaming unfortunately still happens today. We hear it in the news, in undercurrents of conversations, on Twitter – everywhere. In the wake of the recent case of Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond convicted of raping their 16-year-old classmate in Steubenville, Ohio, countless reactions focused on the young girl and what she was wearing (among other things – how much she had been drinking, whether or not she had been friendly with the perpetrators) instead of on the actions of the two boys.

Even a media headline like “How drunk was too drunk to consent?” seems to frame a news story about sexual assault in a victim-blaming way, focusing on the actions of the victims instead of the actions of the perpetrators.

Wearing tight jeans (or baggy jeans, or no jeans, or anything) never implies consent.

Tomorrow, pledge to wear jeans on Denim Day and make a statement with your fashion statement. Commit to educating yourself and others about sexual violence. Talk to someone you know about what victim blaming is. Follow the hashtag #DenimDay on Twitter to see what events are taking place around the country.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Did You See Last Night’s Law & Order SVU? Thoughts?

Last night’s Law and Order SVU told a familiar story — one of a young pop princess being brutally beaten by her baby-faced singer boyfriend. It was very similar to Rihanna and Chris Brown’s experiences, including the same triggers that set off the fight, his controversial tattoo and the public tweeting between the couple. It was an emotional episode that ended tragically — the young star is slain by her boyfriend after they get back together.

Here are some thoughts around last night’s episode:

Victim-Blaming Worsens the Situation

It was heartbreaking to watch the young pop icon named “Micha” in the episode attempt to recover in the days following the abuse.  She had just been betrayed by her best friend and partner, “Caleb,” she was physically hurting and she alone had to decide what to do next. In the midst of all of this, former fans and Caleb supporters were slamming her on Twitter saying that she was a “hoe,” that she should take him back, etc. A neighbor even told police, “She shouldn’t have dissed him.”

Take-Away: This was a powerful reminder of the difficulties facing a victim days after an instance of abuse. We should never judge or blame the victim for what has happened. No one wants or asks to be abused. Abuse is never justified. Let’s make sure that we always take an open-minded and supportive approach towards the victims in our life, and never tell them what they should do but rather be there for them as they heal.

Labels and How Abuse Changes Self-Perception

One of the most jolting lines in the show was Micha saying, “I don’t want the world to see me like that — like a victim.” In the episode, Micha’s brand managers talk with the detectives about what Micha should do in order to protect her public image. The scene also hinted at an internal struggle. It seemed that Micha didn’t like how her own self-perception had twisted as a result of what happened. One of the characters said, “He breaks the law and she gets punished?” Micha’s “punishment” wasn’t confined to her injuries, but rather her self-esteem and understanding of the world was changed as a result of Caleb’s violence.

Take Away: Victims are not only victims. They’re mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, teachers, jokesters, romantics, artists, you name it. Too often in news stories or TV dramas, the victim isn’t adequately described outside of the violent situation. If you are being abused now or have survived, know that your experience isn’t all that you are. It’s a part of your story, but know that you are still a whole person. If you’re struggling in how you feel about yourself as a result of abuse, we have advocates on the lines 24/7 who are here to talk.

Is Anything “Inevitable” In Abuse?

The episode ended on a jaw-dropper. Micha and Caleb publicly announce they are back together. When asked what the detectives should do next, Detective Benson replies, “We wait for the inevitable.” Cut to Micha and Caleb on a boat, seemingly happy until Caleb receives a text message from another girl. A fight ensues, and in the next scene a TV report broadcasts that the young singer’s body was found.

Take Away: The sad ending to the show seemed to insinuate that death always follows abuse. While it is true that abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm, we do want to point out that nothing is “inevitable” when it comes to someone’s situation. Advocates on The Hotline can help assess for potential risk. We are always concerned about our callers’ safety and can help anyone see how much danger is present. If you or someone you know is being abused and there are weapons present, please call The Hotline to safety plan around staying safe with those in the house.

What did you think of last night’s episode? Did anything stand out to you?

(photo credit:

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Teen Mom Recap: Why Doesn’t April Just Leave?

photo credit: mtv.comSome people might watch this past episode of Teen Mom and wonder what is wrong with April. How can she not know if she is going to leave Butch or not? In our society, this is a pretty typical response to survivors who stay in relationships, and it actually shifts the blame to the victim for the abuse, and away from the person who was actually violent. If she would just leave, this wouldn’t happen, right? In this situation, whether April stays in the relationship or not, she doesn’t deserve to be attacked and hurt.

There are a few things going on that many people who make that judgment about survivors don’t take into account. Leaving an abusive relationship is an extremely dangerous time. Abusive partners often escalate their violent behavior when they feel their sense of power and control in the relationship is lessening.

There may be other reasons why leaving doesn’t seem possible at the moment, like not having financial resources to find a new home. Ending a relationship is a complex, emotional process in the best of circumstances. Even though Butch has been abusive and unsafe, April may still care about him and what to see him get help.

There may come a day when she knows for sure that walking away is the right decision for her, but it’s ok if it takes some time for her to figure out what she wants to do.

This excerpt from Advocacy Beyond Leaving by Jill Davies explains this process:

Victims are not masochists bent on suffering, nor are they living in a fantasy world. Victims do what we all do – deal with what life hands us. For some, remaining or leaving is a formal decision, a weighing of pros and cons. For others it is informal, simply coping with the current situation because it seems tolerable or there are no better options or alternatives. Most victims cope with the bad and hope for the better, living with the status quo, making the decisions they must, and doing what they can do to make things better along the way. Leaving is not a simple decision, nor one easily made.

Not knowing if you want to stay in or end an abusive relationship is perfectly natural. However, it’s very important to think about how you can stay as safe as possible while you’re trying to decide.

Think about what happens in your relationship: What can you do to be safe? Who can you talk to and ask for help from? What are the red flags that your partner will become more violent or dangerous? When do you know you have to leave or call the police in order to stay safe?

There are some risks that are often indications of potentially dangerous and lethal situations.  Some of the red flags that you may be in an extremely dangerous situation are:

  • If physical violence has gotten worse or happens more frequently in the last few months
  • If your partner has ever used a weapon or threatened you with a weapon
  • If your partner is violently jealous of you and who you talk to

(Campbell, et al, 2009,

Remember, you can always talk to a Hotline advocate for support.

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

RHBH: Taylor Shares Fears About Marriage With Friends

Photo courtesy of

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

It’s Not Her Fault

by Christina Owens

You see her every day – in the street, in the supermarket and even at work. She’s the woman who wears long sleeves during the summer, sunglasses inside and keeps to herself. She wears a smile on the outside, but her sad eyes tell of another life; her secret life. No one knows how difficult her life is at home. She is ridiculed, she is told she’s good for nothing, she is yelled at for everything she does or doesn’t do, she generally does very few things right and, as a result, is “punished” by the same man who tells her every night that he loves her. She is afraid for her life at home, but more afraid to leave. She is stuck.

Any woman can find herself in these situations: situations where she is stuck, situations that aren’t her fault, situations where she is the victim of domestic violence. She can’t leave. Leaving puts her in more danger than staying and enduring the abuse that she has come to know. Leaving means starting over; being strong and she thinks that she is weak. She doesn’t know how to take the first step or even if she wants to. Although being a victim of domestic violence isn’t what she had planned for her life, it’s her reality and it’s what she knows.

Many outsiders say things like, “If I were her, I would just leave.” And that’s exactly what she thought she would do too. But the first time he struck her, it was an accident. He didn’t mean to and he apologized for it again and again and promised it was an isolated incident. She forgave him; after all, he was the love of her life. And it seemed like it was an isolated incident. Until three months later, when he struck her again, but this time it was her fault – that’s the lie she believed. Maybe if she had been better at cooking or at cleaning or if she had left the office earlier to avoid the traffic jam, he wouldn’t have gotten so angry. He apologized again and she forgave him again, telling herself she would be better to him. She loves him and believes that he loves her. She has learned all the excuses to make for him and she believes all of his lies. It’s definitely more complicated than “just leaving.” He controls every aspect of her life. She does things out of fear, she isn’t the woman she wanted to be, but she doesn’t know how to become that woman.

Instead of asking, “Why doesn’t she leave?” try asking, “Why doesn’t the abuser stop being violent?” LOVE IS RESPECT.

*Thank you Christina for sharing this moving portrait of a victim. Your words will help others*

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

GPS Tracking

The following blog entry was written by Cherry Simpson, mother of domestic violence survivor Regan Martin. For more information about her story click here.

Other links of interest:
Cindy Bischof Foundation 
GPS News and Media Harvard Law Professor Diane Rosenfeld

In May 2006 my daughter was handcuffed, raped and beaten by her husband – he confessed and was still allowed to plea out of the sex crime status. He got 3 yrs 9 months and served 19 months. We knew he would do it again upon his release. He stalked my daughter from prison. We were told from day one you’ll never get a GPS put on him. Well we did.

I personally credit the GPS monitor for keeping my daughter and grandchildren alive. I found out about it by looking on The convicts hate it because they have no legal recourse to have them removed once they’re placed on them by DOC and in fact many speak about it providing evidence used against them. I had read about the death of Cindy Bischof and the law which was passed in IL but it wasn’t going into effect until Jan 2009 and the court didn’t have the funds or the man power to order them or to monitor them at the time. So I did what was logical and contacted IDOC, the PRB and parole. I sent them copies of Regan’s abuser’s arrests and criminal record as well as proof of his continued stalking.

I knew DOC had GPS for sex offenders, so I appealed to them on the basis that he was a sex offender. He had also continued to stalk my daughter from prison and we reported that to the prison and PRB and filed charges with the DA.

I had heard that Harvard Law Professor Diane Rosenfeld worked with the Cindy Bischof Foundation and I wrote them asking for their support. Professor Rosenfeld wrote the lethality assessment for my daughter and got her a pro-bono attorney. to represent her victim rights in court. I thank God for women like Professor Rosenfeld and Attorney Rachel Morse who work in the law, their presence in the justice system is helping to change the Law to reflect reality.

My daughter’s case was written about in the Chicago Tribune. In the story my daughters abuser talks about cutting it off and being able to get to her in 5 minutes. But he didn’t.

The GPS has a 100% success rate in keeping women alive. We wanted an effective legal guarantee of personal-security for my daughter and her children. I think it’s a wonderful tool and will not only help save lives but prevents crime and helps to prosecute crime. We all have GPS on our phones and now we’ve got a microchip being put on our USPS postage stamps because of anthrax and congress. They already use them on sex offenders DOC has them and have monitored them and used the data to prosecute perpetrators. I believe it is inevitable we will all see them utilized soon. Congress wants to live too.

I also think the GPS is important for womens human rights. Too many women are dying from domestic violence. I personally find it very disingenuous that any domestic violence coalition wouldn’t want it. It saves lives. It shouldn’t be about money, it should be about saving womens lives. The rate prisoners are being released early we all need this crime deterrent tool.

Women are being blamed for getting themselves beat and raped by men they know and then chastised for not liking them afterwards. We need the state to recognize that women are violated because we are women (a form of unequal treatment which needs legal teeth) the GPS helps do exactly that and more.

The problems I hear about have been about state lines but according to the VAWA and the Full Faith and Credit Laws it should not be a problem. We have asked PRB upon my daughter’s abuser’s new release that he be given a GPS monitor just like the last time (he was just put back into prison for the 3rd and 4th violation of OP). The Attorney General of Illinois has assured me he will have it put on him. We received a letter from IDOC told my daughter she would qualify for the GPS under the new Cindy Bischof Law.

I already have the proof it works to save lives…my daughter and grandchildren LIVE with us now.


Cherry Simpson