Getting Help for a Friend in Need
It was to be a night like most others, connecting with family after work, and maybe catching a favorite television show before preparing for the next day. Unexpectedly, this mundane evening was shattered when my wife received a call from a friend reaching out for help. The person on the other end of the line was terrified of the abuse they could no longer endure at home from their spouse. I consider myself to generally be a prepared individual, able to handle any situation that may come my way, but I was wholly unprepared for what I was to witness this night.
Luckily, my wife was aware of The Hotline as a resource that could be marshaled immediately to address our friend’s needs. Little did I know that I was about to witness efforts of anonymous individuals committed to the care and well-being of a total stranger to them, yet a friend to us. The power was in the completeness of the approach and the swiftness of its execution.
Let me pause here and suggest that if you or someone you care for is experiencing domestic abuse, no matter their gender, do not hesitate to reach out to The Hotline. You can begin by visiting their website at thehotline.org or calling their 24/7 support line (1-800-799-7233) and speaking to an advocate dedicated and trained to help in these difficult times. Advocates are also available to chat online at thehotline.org.
With our situation, I made a mistake that I moved quickly to correct. Being a capable 49-year-old man, I thought I would speak to the issues at hand instead of listening to our friend. While it was a defense mechanism at the time to show concern and empathy, I came to realize that it was an effort to control a situation that was not mine to control. Fortunately, The Hotline not only provides signs of what to look for if you suspect a friend or family member is experiencing an abusive relationship, but also gives tips on how to handle the situation. Their first suggestion is to listen.
Once I corrected my behavior and begin to listen, the process sped up. Our friend recognized their own sense of need, empowered through a sympathetic ear, and they were quick to advance through the next steps, first calling The Hotline to work with an advocate on identifying immediate needs and the steps to address them. For their ongoing protection, I will not provide further details of all the events of that night other than to say that I knew then I needed to be more informed of the issues surrounding domestic violence, as I was woefully unprepared to effectively handle our friend’s cry for help, a need that might be shared by others.
The most basic form of information is statistics, and little did I know about the epidemic levels our society is experiencing when it comes to domestic violence:
- On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.
- Nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and report a related impact on their functioning.
- Nearly 15% of women (14.8%) and 4% of men have been injured as a result of intimate partner violence (IPV) that included rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4% and 48.8%, respectively).
- Females ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence.
- From 1994 to 2010, about 4 in 5 victims of intimate partner violence were female.
- Most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender, including 77% of females ages 18 to 24, 76% of females ages 25 to 34, and 81% of females ages 35 to 49.
As I reflect on this issue as both a husband and a father, I feel better knowing that if I need more assistance helping someone, or at the very least, recommending a resource for someone to call upon, The Hotline is there. It could be someone close to our family or yours that could benefit, and I want to be effective in my help.
The Hotline is a strong network of individuals highly-trained to help in a person’s time of need, ranging from a conversation with an advocate, to referrals to local resources, to lobbying efforts with federal officials to secure resources for continuing these efforts. They have listened and heard the calling to address this societal need, and we are all better prepared for it. I should know—I have witnessed its powerful effect.
Chris Mountzouris is a writer, business owner, husband, and stepfather to his wife’s 16-year-old daughter. He lives in Texas and has volunteered for the National Domestic Violence Hotline as a strategic advisor.