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What To Expect When You Call

safety plan

What To Expect When You Call

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment section

18 replies
  1. Please help me to understand how I can help my older sister and her son the husband monitors everything she does and she is moving into the house with me she only has a few dollars I don’t have much who can help her

  2. Dear Tawana, Thank you for reaching out to the Share Your Voice Blog. If I read your posting correctly, it sounds like your sister is now living with you. I hope so. This would mean you can help her safely contact us or the local DV Shelter for help. Many people don’t realize that a victim of DV may get help from local programs without having to live in the shelter. But, please have her call us at The Hotline, 1-800-799-7233. Among other referrals, I would like to connect her to the local program where she could get counseling, casemanagement, referrels for other community resources. Call us yourself for support as well. We know these situations are very challenging for family and friends. The book, “Helping Her Get Free”, by Susan Brewster has information for family of a person in an abusive relationship-or just getting out. The website,www.womenslaw.org also has a tab called “Helping Others” that provides information for family and friends of a person experiencing abuse and tips for helping with
    safety planning
    We are always here and would like to help you all do some safety planning, too.

  3. Thank you for your response to this comment and the information about womenslaw.org and the book about helping a victim of domestic violence. I am a parent whose daughter is in a very verbally violent and abusive marriage. I hope to pass some of this information on to her in the hope that she will find the courage and strength to move on to a much better life without him, for her own safety and the safety of her children and her other mother (I’m her birth mother) – her adoptive mother who raised her.

  4. hello there…I just got married in march this yr, I came here in the US with a K1 visa thru my hubby now…I had a good a job then, now that I’m here with my husband, I haven’t got any choice but to stay at home for the moment since I’m still waiting for the employment authorization and my docs are still on process for the adjustment of status.

    the problem is, my husband seems to have Bipolar, he’s good but his temper is really different. When he gets mad, even to simple things, it’s expected that he’ll put the blame on me, telling me stuff that I’m the one who is bringing bad luck to him. and when the school report of his kids, since he has 2 boys, (17 & 11) came and they were having poor grades because they stay on the computer most of the time, he was still blaming me, telling me that I should’ve taught his kids, and the fact that I just lived with them in March this year. He is even telling me that I should leave him the moment I have my greencard. He’s calling me names and even uses my skype account and add people and then tell me that I’ve been talking to different people.

    I’m so frustrated and feeling helpless. I’ve been working my whole life and never been a burden to no one since I don’t have a family of my own. I’m a decent woman and I just came here in the US because we decided to settle down, though we met online, I never dated people then except for the dad of my only child. I couldn’t have a goodnight sleep, thinking that his temper will hit me again since his so fickle-minded.

    I don’t wanna stay with the relationship since it’s a cycle and a torture to me. I married him because I thought he’s the one but since I came here and live with him, I was never happy. Please help me, tell me what to do.

    thanks and God bless…

  5. Confused,

    Wow! That seems like an incredibly frustrating and scary situation. Thank you so much for reaching out, I know sharing one’s story can be difficult. One of the things that abusers do is try to blame you for everything because that way they don’t have to take responsibility for their actions. This is a tactic that he is trying to use to maintain power and control over you. But you haven’t done anything wrong and there is nothing you could have done to make him be abusive. Violence is always a choice.

    You are not alone. There are many immigrant women who go through similar situations. And you are protected under the Violence Against Women Act. I would encourage you to call us at 1(800)799.7233. We are confidential and anonymous and we are here 24/7. We can get you connected to local resources where you can get the support that you need, including help in filing for your papers without him. You can take back your life and we are here to help.

    Until then,
    Hotline Advocate MC

  6. I was in an abusive relationship for over a year. He was sweet, funny and romantic but he had a nasty temper. The first time he ever hit me I was a few weeks pregnant and I was fussing about money. He pushed me in the street and when I tried to fight back he choked me. After that I terminated the pregnancy behind his back. When he found out he literally dragged me down the street by my hair, I was so embarrassed. Finallyi decided I wanted out so I told him to pack his things and get out. Bad idea, he tried to tie me up, suffocate me with a pillow and stab me with a kitchen knife. I had to jump out of my bedroom window to get away from him. When the cops came all they did was make him leave saying it was my word against his. A month later he was arrested for something else thank god but I have been on edge everyday since the incident. Its been a year I want to move on but its so hard idk what to do. I cry randomly, I have nightmares sometimes and I have a hard time talking about the incident without getting emotional. I didn’t think I would still be here after a year.

  7. Dear can’t move on,
    I’m sorry you were in such an abusive relationship. There are a few things I would like to comment on. Many abusers are charming, sweet, funny, etc. Often victims say they are like Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They use their character shifts to manipulate people and fool many into thinking they are fantastic individuals. They’re not! Many abusers are worse when their partners are pregnant. They will often target the womb when attacking their partner. You wrote about being choked which is extremely dangerous. Choking and/or strangulation increases the possibility of a person loosing their life to domestic violence. When you got fed up you told him to get out. You said it was a “bad idea”. We often suggest to callers that they not tell their abusers when they are planning to leave. This will often make the abuser more aggressive. We suggest a victim talk to their local domestic violence agency, make a plan for departure, get all their ducks in a row, and leave without telling the abuser beforehand. We can help you with all of this information and planning at the National Domestic Violence hotlind, (800) 799-7233. I’m glad you’re out of the relationship. You may want to consider getting a protection order in case he is released from jail soon.
    Hotline Advocate_MT

  8. I am not quite sure what To do right now, or where I go but when I read all those comments, I just recognize my situation…

    My husband can be adorable but he has a really bad temper and when he blows up, I was confronted with it the day I caught him cheating and sleeping with another woman
    He threatened me and told me he would cut my head off. I did not pay attention to that. In the way, I was stronger and less influenceable that I might be now.

    But last Sunday, we argued… and as always he calls me all kind of names (b….h, c..t), I pushed the hat he was wearing and he literally blew up

    He put his hands around my neck and told me he “ would kill me if I ever touch his hat”

    When he saw I could not breathe, he stepped back… and I grabbed his nose. I could have grabbed anything, I just wanted to protect myself, and let him know that he could not do that

    He got so mad, that he rushed to me and punched me several times in my ear. I fell, and then he continued on my back. Punching -and punching

    I was crying and screaming, begging him to stop. He took his gun and put it on my head. t that moment, I thought it was done and I just closed my eyes and prayed to take care of my son and gave my spirit to God…
    He told me “ I will kill you, touch me one more time and I will kill you b…! I already killed people, I am not scared of doing it again, s…bag!”

    It took me an hour to stand up, I have bruises everywhere… and since Sunday, he is acting normally.

  9. As for him, everything is normal. When I tried to talk to him or bring up the subject, or when the only time he looked at my back, he told me “ he was sorry but I was the first one aggressive and he just tried to defend himself. That I started the fight, that all was my fault and he could only protect himself and I was the aggressor…” I just do not know what to do, what step to take. I can’t call the police… But I need to protect myself and my son as well. I am scared.

  10. I have no friends, no family here… I am ashamed. I want to go back home and live normally.

    He likes to diminish me, despise me, make me feel and look ridiculous. I can’t do anything right.

    He is also using my son against me. He likes to mock me in front of him or talk bad about me.

  11. I am sorry my comment is cut, but I can’t freely speak or write. I have to stop when he shows up. Yesterday, his truck broke down, I was at work, he called me to insult me. He was saying that “ it was my fault and I was not doing anything at home” I am really careful with my words and behavior, anything can make him angry. I will not survive to another punch, I am having a hard time to walk now. What can I do or where can I go to protect myself and my son? How can I get divorced quickly and leave him? My paycheck goes to a common bank account that he has been controlling. Please help. Thank you!

  12. Dear Anonymous,
    I know it is unfair and scary- and many abusers make sure their partners work just so they can continue their cycle of power and control outside of the home. I’d love for you to get in touch with our advocates so they can talk to you about safety planning and other resources that may be of help to you in this very difficult situation. I can hear your concerns, and I’d love to invite you to get in touch with us whenever you are ready to talk. We are only a call/chat away! Please take care of yourself. And remember, you are not alone. We are here for you!

  13. I just wanted to let you know that there is nothing you have done to deserve the mistreatment and abuse you have endured and that there is nothing to be ashamed of. Abuse never was and never will be your fault. I know how scared you must be feeling right now, but I wanted to let you know that we are here for you whenever you feel ready to talk. I cannot make the decision for you or tell you what is best, only you are the expert in your situation. However, I can share the facts with you. The fact is: you deserve a healthy relationship that is made up of mutual commitment, respect, trust, equality, and safety 100% of the time. Please know we are one call or chat away! Please call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY for Deaf/hard of hearing) to talk to one of our advocates. Help is free, confidential and 24/7. You can also chat Click the “Chat Online Now” button to begin a chat. I hope this helps!

  14. Hi Anonymous. I am so sorry to hear how you are feeling. It sounds like you are in a difficult situation and my heart goes out for you. For privacy and confidentiality reasons, we usually don’t answer questions about relationships over here, but I’d like to invite you to get in touch with our advocates at The Hotline so they can help talk through your relationship issues. They might be able to provide you with more resources if needed. You can call at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY for Deaf/hard of hearing). You can also chat Click the “Chat Now” button to begin a chat. Our website is: http://www.thehotline.org
    I hope this helps. Please be careful and take care of yourself.

  15. Dear Anonymous,
    Due to the victim’s immigration status, abusive partners have additional ways to exert power and control over their victims. Because of your status in the country, you may face unique issues that make it hard to reach out for help. A specialized immigration attorney should always be your first point of contact when it comes to immigration questions and concerns. WomensLaw provides lawyer referrals — please consult one of them before proceeding with any course of action. Domestic violence is against the law regardless of your immigration status. Call the hotline for resources in your area that can help! Our advocates are highly trained and they might provide you with not only a sympathetic ear but also ways to channel what you are feeling and other resources if needed. You can call at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY for Deaf/hard of hearing). You can also chat Click the “Chat Online Now” button to begin a chat. Our website is http://www.thehotline.org I hope this helps. Please be careful and take care of yourself.

  16. Hi Hannah!
    To get help and support from our advocates, you can reach out via online chat or give us a call at 1-800-799-7233.

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