What to Expect When You Contact Us
Every contact with The Hotline is personal. Some people who reach out to us identify as survivors of abuse, some as concerned friends or family members, and some as abusive partners seeking to change themselves. Many people may be unsure of what to expect when you contact us. While every contact is unique, our advocates are guided by The Hotline’s Consent and Ethics policy and will emphasize several key points throughout your conversation. If you’re uncertain about what talking with an advocate is like, here is what to expect when you contact us.
What to expect when you contact us
- "Thanks for reaching out."
It’s natural to feel anxious about contacting The Hotline, especially if it’s your first time reaching out for help. Our advocates undergo extensive training to support survivors of domestic violence, and our services are always confidential. Reaching out for help is the first step toward improving your situation, and it’s important to recognize your own courage in taking this vital step.
- "Are you in a safe place to talk?"
It’s essential for your own safety that you contact us when your partner isn’t around. This can be hard to do if you live in the same residence, but abusive partners are likely to react with anger as you take steps to regain control in your life. If your partner comes home or walks in while you’re speaking with an advocate, immediately disconnect the call. Remember to protect your digital privacy, and take steps to delete our number from your phone or clear your Internet browsing history after visiting TheHotline.org
- “How are you taking care of yourself?”
Self-care is always important, but it can be easy to forget about while you’re in an abusive relationship. Taking care of yourself can be as simple as eating a good breakfast or getting enough sleep at night — doing it every day is what’s important. Many advocates recommend writing in a journal, reading a good book, or taking a long bath to ease your mind.
- “Why don’t you tell me about your situation?”
Before an advocate can help, they’ll need to know your specific circumstances. This will likely be difficult to talk about but it’ll give you an opportunity to express yourself and to raise concerns you might have about your relationship. Some advocates recommend summarizing your situation through a timeline of your relationship or by explaining a recent altercation to get a better idea of what options are available to you.
- “What have you considered so far?”
You know your situation best. People contact us at various stages of their relationships, so we’ll need to understand what steps you’re ready to take in order to provide you with informed support. Our advocates will never make decisions for you — only you have the right to do that — so discussing your options can simply be a useful way to help you make your own best decisions.
- “Let’s brainstorm together.”
Whether you’re trying to improve communication with your partner, planning how to leave your relationship, or finding ways to feel safer at home, you will always have options. Our advocates can help you sort through your choices to figure out what’s best for your specific situation.
- “What else is on your mind?”
Our advocates are here to help you process your situation, and you’ll likely have additional questions throughout your conversation (as well as some things you might not have felt comfortable asking at the start). Remember that our services are always confidential and that our advocates are available 24/7 to help in whatever ways you determine to be best.
Can I really call without being judged?
Our advocates are here to listen without judgement and help you begin to address what’s going on in your relationship. Our services are always free and available 24/7.
Call: 800.799.SAFE (7233)
Chat: Chat live now
I’ve been abusive to my partner. Will The Hotline help me?
Of course. We frequently get contacted by people who identify as abusive or who are concerned about behaviors that may be unhealthy. A person who is abusive also wonders what to expect when you contact us, but it’s the same as anyone else. We treat everyone who contacts us with dignity and respect, and support accountability that recognizes these moments as opportunities to plant a seed for change.
What will an advocate recommend?
- Depending on your situation, our advocates will talk you through different courses of action. If you begin to identify unhealthy behaviors in your relationship throughout your call, they’ll discuss these red flags with you and brainstorm healthy alternatives for the behavior.
- Our advocates can offer strategies to help you calm down and de-escalate situations if you feel yourself getting angry. They’ll also help you understand how your actions negatively affect you as well as those around you.
- Advocates can help you learn more about Battering Intervention and Prevention Programs. Some people who contact us about BIPPS are looking for a referral because of a court order; others seek out this information on their own. Our advocates can help you find local services and recommend resources to fit your situation.
Support in the language of your choice
We want to make talking about relationship abuse as easy as possible for everyone, regardless of their primary language. That is why we have partnered with Macy’s to provide all contacts who need it with access to our Language Line. With our Language Line, callers can speak with our advocates in over 140 languages with the help of a trained interpreter. This allows our callers to share their story in the easiest way possible while receiving support and resources for their unique situation. Simply inform the advocate what language you would prefer, and they can get an interpreter on the line.