By Michelle, Development & Marketing Team Member and former Advocate at The Hotline
Deciding to reach out to The Hotline can be extremely difficult. Maybe you struggle to find the right opportunity, or maybe you’re just scared and don’t know what to expect. It can be frustrating to finally gather the courage to call, only to have to answer a bunch of questions before getting the help you need. However, the questions we ask at the start of every conversation help us provide you with the very best possible support for your situation, and help our organization work toward our mission. With the exceptions of the initial safety question and in some cases, your age, you never have to share any information you don’t feel comfortable sharing. To help you prepare, here are some questions you can expect to be asked when you do reach out.
“Are you currently safe to talk?”
At the beginning of any conversation, our advocates will first confirm whether you are safe to talk to us. If you aren’t sure of your answer, ask yourself if there is anyone around who might hurt you if they found out you were talking to us. If the answer is no, you’re probably safe. If the answer is yes, that probably means right now is not the best time to be reaching out. Your safety is our #1 priority, and we never want you to do anything that is going to put you in more danger. The Hotline cannot send help to your location, so we always encourage you to call 911 if you are in need of emergency assistance.
“What is your age, race, and gender?”
Your advocate (or pre-chat survey, if you’re chatting online) will next ask you some demographic questions, such as your age, race/ethnicity, and gender. We recognize that answering these questions, especially about race, can be triggering for some people. Remember that you never have to answer any questions you don’t feel comfortable answering. The only exception is that if you are chatting with us, you do have to share your age. This is due to legal restrictions that prohibit us from chatting with individuals under 13 years of age.
We ask demographic information for a few reasons. Firstly, knowing this type of information about a caller or chatter helps us provide the very best advocacy for that person’s situation. For example, knowing that a caller is male helps our advocate provide education around specific stigma male survivors may face, and allows them to direct the caller to shelters that serve men (many do not). Learning that a chatter identifies as Native American lets our advocate know to ask whether the abuse occurred on tribal land (which can impact a survivor’s legal choices) and speak to issues of cultural abuse. The more we know about your situation, the better we can support you with appropriate information and resources.
We also use demographic information to understand the populations we serve. This information is so valuable for us as our organization grows and changes, as it lets us identify where we are doing well and where there is still work to be done. For example, we can ask questions like “What populations aren’t reaching out to us? What obstacles might those groups be facing and how can we address them?” or “What types of web content and advocate training can we develop around groups that are starting to seek our services in larger numbers?” Collecting demographic information ultimately helps our organization move forward in a direction to best support those who reach out to us.
The last main reason we collect demographic information is to help us maintain and secure funding. Our funders want to know what populations we are serving, and statistics help us share that information with them in meaningful ways. Our funding, however, is not dependent on the content of information we gather. We are not granted more money for serving higher numbers of any specific population, and . Knowing information about those who reach out allows us to seek funding to develop programs and initiatives specifically geared toward better serving certain groups.
“How did you hear about us?”
This question is a bit more straightforward. We like to ask how you heard about us so we know how well we are publicizing our organization. Some generous corporate funders also help to promote our services, and we love recognizing their impact when someone has learned about us from one of their initiatives. Your answer to this question helps us learn what we’re doing that is or isn’t working, and hopefully reach as many people as we possibly can.
“Have you talked with an advocate in the past?”
While your advocate will always meet you with empathy, respect and validation no matter how many times you’ve reached out, it can be helpful for them to know whether this is your first time. If it’s not, your advocate might ask what resources we’ve shared with you in the past and how those worked out for you, so we aren’t giving you the same information as last time. They might also ask what has changed since the last time you contacted us so we can understand how the safety plan you formulated in the past has been working for you. Remember that The Hotline is not meant to provide long-term support, so if you find yourself having to reach out to us frequently, let your advocate know you’d like a resource that can provide you with longer-term care, such as a counselor in your area.
Again, aside from your safety and possibly age, you never have to share any information with your advocate that you aren’t comfortable sharing. You are only required to share your age if you reach out via chat or text, so if you know you don’t want to share that information, please call us instead. Remember that we ask these questions to ultimately provide you with the very best possible support for your situation, and to help us achieve our vision of a world where all relationships are positive, healthy, and free from violence. Whenever you’re ready to reach out, our advocates will be here 24/7/365 by phone at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and by chat at www.thehotline.org.
The post I Just Want Help. Why Do I Have to Answer All These Questions? appeared first on The National Domestic Violence Hotline.
By Michelle, Administrative Assistant and former Advocate at The Hotline
Jennifer* was just 19 years old when she met her boyfriend in 2010 through a mutual friend. He was smart, kind and so generous, often showering her with gifts and surprising her at work to take her out to lunch, always picking up the check. Consumed by this whirlwind romance, Jennifer began spending all of her free time with her new partner. When he asked her to move in with him just two months into their relationship, there was little doubt in her mind when she enthusiastically agreed, “I thought it was a little soon, but I was so excited to build a home with him that I didn’t mind.”
After living together for a few months, Jennifer was starting to realize she hadn’t seen much of her friends or family since entering into this relationship. One day, she invited a male coworker to grab lunch with her to catch up. While out at lunch, her phone started buzzing with a call from her partner. Not wanting to be rude to her coworker, she ignored the call. Her partner called back repeatedly until Jennifer answered, and when she finally did, he accused her of cheating on him. He had stopped by the office for a surprise lunch date, but the receptionist told him Jennifer was already out with her colleague. Her boyfriend told Jennifer he knew what they were “really” doing.
Jennifer was horrified her partner thought she was being unfaithful. She didn’t think she had done anything wrong. She felt so guilty for the pain she had caused him, and how inconsiderate she had been. She immediately went to find her partner, not returning to work, and apologized profusely for having been so disrespectful. She even volunteered to show him her text history with her colleague to prove there was nothing between them. After that, her partner forgave her, but said that it was only fair that she agree to never spend time alone with other men, stop talking to her coworker, and let her boyfriend approve what she wore to work and to check her phone every day. “I thought that was kind of a harsh punishment,” Jennifer said, “but I felt so bad. I wanted him to forgive me completely, and I wanted the whole thing to be over, so I agreed.”
Three years into their relationship, after living daily life further and further under her partner’s control, Jennifer found out she was pregnant. She had been worried this might happen since her partner forced her to stop taking birth control pills. When she finally broke the news to him, he was overjoyed. “Now you can quit your job!” he said. Jennifer was confused—she loved her job and had no intention of quitting, even if she was going to have a baby. Her boyfriend became enraged, yelling, throwing things, and telling her she would be a terrible mother if working was more important than spending time with her child. She had never seen him this violent before, and she was scared of what he might do. She agreed to quit her job and did so the following day.
One day, six months into her pregnancy, Jennifer wanted to get a haircut. Her partner now had full control of their finances, so she asked for some money to see her stylist. Her boyfriend refused, asking her who she was trying to look good for. Jennifer fought back, and explained to us, “I was starting to see that I wasn’t the problem, his insecurity was. I called him out on it and it was like I flipped a switch.” Her boyfriend slapped her across the face so hard that she fell onto the ground and was left with a black eye. At her prenatal visit the following week, Jennifer’s doctor told her that her baby was in perfect health, but asked about her eye. Her boyfriend, who now insisted on being present at every check-up, told the doctor that Jennifer had hit it on their kitchen cabinet. Too scared to tell her doctor the truth behind her injury, Jennifer went along with his story.
After their daughter was born, things between Jennifer and her boyfriend seemed to be improving. “We were so in love with her,” Jennifer said, “We agreed to put the past behind us and look forward to the future.” However, three months later, her boyfriend once again became violent, pushing Jennifer into a wall and choking her during an argument. She broke away and tried to call 911, but her partner slapped her phone out of her hand, smashed it with his foot and sexually assaulted her. Unfortunately, this pattern of violence continued in their relationship for years.
Two years later, their daughter was throwing a tantrum and would not stop crying. Her boyfriend began yelling, and when Jennifer yelled back, her partner beat her so severely that she had to go to the emergency room. Their little girl saw the whole thing. “My daughter watched me get stitches that night,” Jennifer said. “I thought about the example I was setting for her if I stayed.” She decided enough was enough, and told her boyfriend she was leaving him. He threatened to hire a lawyer and sue her for sole custody, and promised that Jennifer, having no money to afford a lawyer of her own, would never see her daughter again. Terrified at the possibility of losing her daughter, Jennifer made the choice to stay in her relationship, and gave up hope that she would ever be free of abuse.
Six months ago, Jennifer was reading an article that referenced The Hotline, and she decided to reach out while her boyfriend was away at a conference. Through tears, she told our advocate how embarrassed and ashamed she was that she hadn’t been able to protect herself or her daughter, “I tried so hard to protect her,” she explained. “I never wanted her to see the way he treats me behind closed doors. I didn’t report him because I was sure he would kill me or kidnap my daughter if I ever said anything.”
Our advocate reassured Jennifer that the abuse she was experiencing was not her fault, and identified the emotional, physical, sexual, digital and financial tactics her partner was using to maintain power and control over her in their relationship. Together, they explored options for Jennifer’s physical safety and emotional well-being as she decided to leave her abuser. They eventually came up with a plan for Jennifer to pack up her things and take her daughter to her sister’s house nearby, reach out to a local legal resource that offered free services for survivors, gather documentation of her abuse, and start going to a local support group for survivors. At the end of her conversation, Jennifer told her advocate, “Thank you so much for sharing these resources and for being there to listen to me. I finally feel like my head is clear. I know what is happening, I know it is abuse, and I’m not as scared anymore. Thank you.”
Recently, Jennifer reached back out to The Hotline, saying, “I just wanted to thank you all. Six months ago I was in a domestic violence situation. I spoke with one of your advocates and they gave me a plan and some resources in my area to reach out to. I followed the plan and although I am still fighting my ex for custody, I am safe and happy. Until I came here, I thought I was alone and that no one would believe me. Your organization saved my life.”
Help us continue our work in helping survivors find safe and happy lives by making your gift today. This is why we always need to be there when someone reaches out to The Hotline. Together, we can help the hundreds of thousands of people who reach out to us every year—resilient individual who are seeking safety from abusers plus the understanding, healing and hope that every survivor needs and deserves.
*Names and details have been changed to protect identities. Jennifer’s story is compiled from real experiences of survivors who have contacted The Hotline. To protect survivors’ safety, we never publish a survivor’s full story without their express permission.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this year’s theme is “Embrace Your Voice.” Between the Harvey Weinstein revelations, the #MeToo campaign, and the Time’s Up movement, we have watched survivors and allies all over the globe embrace their voices over the past few months in an important conversation around sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. It’s important to remember however, that there are many who will choose never to share their stories, and that’s okay, too. Embracing your voice around sexual assault can happen in so many ways, whether it’s calling out offensive “locker room talk” that normalizes sexual assault, guiding a friend to appropriate resources in a time of need, or simply practicing good consent strategies with your sexual partners. It’s important that we all work to fight sexual assault in whatever way we feel capable, big or small.
Join us tomorrow, Wednesday, April 11, at 1 p.m. Central on our Twitter account (@ndvh) as we take part in a Sexual Assault Awareness Month-themed Twitter chat with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). You can also search for #NEDAChat on Twitter to tune-in.
While The Hotline is not a sexual assault resource, we know that sexual violence can be one way an abuser maintains power and control over their victim. If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual violence from an intimate partner, please call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat with us by selecting Chat Now. For support and resources specifically geared toward sexual assault (including sexual assault that is not part of an intimate partner relationship), please reach out to RAINN at 1(800)-656-HOPE (4673) or chat at www.rainn.org.
The post Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2018: Embrace Your Voice appeared first on The National Domestic Violence Hotline.
By Michelle, Administrative Assistant and former Advocate at The Hotline
On Sunday, March 11, 2018 FOX aired a special, never-before-seen interview with O. J. Simpson where he discussed his relationship with ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, who was brutally murdered in her Brentwood, CA home, along with Ron Goldman, in June 1994. In this interview, Simpson describes what he called a hypothetical account of what may have happened that night, if he had been the killer. Whether you believe O.J. Simpson is guilty or innocent, there were several themes from this interview that are all-too-common in many abusive relationships.
Gift-giving: O.J. describes a whirlwind courtship with Nicole where he purchased many expensive gifts to win her over at the beginning of their relationship. Abusive relationships can tend to move very quickly in their early stages, maybe even faster than the survivor is comfortable with. Many survivors report being swept off their feet by abusers, showered with gifts and affection like they’ve never experienced, and it can be a very exciting and intoxicating feeling. But abusers are master manipulators, and this affectionate behavior can be part of their strategy to ultimately gain power and control—a new partner may be more willing to accept their abusive “flaws” after they have shown so much generosity. Some abusers may also dote on their partners with gifts as a way to apologize for the abuse after the fact. O. J. often mentioned the gifts he purchased for Nicole as evidence of what a great partner he had been and how lucky Nicole was to be with him, almost as if she owed him for his financial support. It’s important to remember that your safety is priceless—you are never your partner’s property, no matter how much they spend on you.
Intimidation: O. J. describes an incident in 1984 where he damaged Nicole’s car with a baseball bat, saying he doesn’t know why everyone made such a big deal out of it. In his version of events, he was standing next to her car (which he mentions several times that he purchased for her), bouncing the bat off the tire, when Nicole warned him he would have to pay for any damage he made to the car. O.J. became upset that she would suggest he would have to pay for damage when he had been the one to purchase the car. To prove his point that he could do anything he wanted to his property, O.J. took the bat to the car. The police report notes a smashed windshield, and some accounts place Nicole inside the car at the time of the incident. Commentator Rita Smith astutely pointed out that even if O. J.’s version is true, simply standing next to the car with a baseball bat during a fight can in itself be a threatening act, “Subtle, and not so subtle, forms of violence are used to continue to keep control over their victim. So him just bouncing the bat off of the tire, initially, was a subtle message: I am in charge. I will determine the framework for this relationship. I will decide what happens, when it happens. You will not, or you will die.”
By trying to downplay the incident as not being a big deal, O. J. is attempting to minimize his own unhealthy and threatening behaviors rather than taking responsibility for his actions. He later chalks his reaction that night up to his “volatile temper.” While anger can contribute to an abusive situation, it does not cause abuse. Everyone gets angry, but not everyone makes the choice to engage in violent and abusive behaviors as a way to cope with those feelings. By blaming his actions on his temper, O. J. again seeks to avoid responsibility for his choices.
Rewriting the narrative: O. J. describes several incidents where Nicole “misunderstood” or “overreacted” to his unhealthy and threatening behavior; he even cites her “explosive personality” as a reason their arguments became violent. Even if Nicole reacted violently at times, it would not have excused O. J.’s choices. Nicole’s friend and commentator on the show, Eve Shakti Chen, mentioned that Nicole was definitely not violent and tended to withdraw when attacked, so it is likely that O. J.’s attempt to reframe Nicole as a combative person is another way he seeks to avoid responsibility for his abusive behavior.
Abusers often try to minimize their partner’s emotions or even blame victims for the abuse, which allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. This behavior can be a form of gaslighting, an emotionally abusive tactic where the abuser aims to make the victim question their feelings, memories, and experiences in order to gain power and control over them. While we can see survivors adopt violent reactions as a defense against the abuse they are experiencing, there is no such thing as mutual abuse, as one partner always has more power and control in the relationship.
Another area we can see this type of manipulation come into play is in abusers’ relationships with their partners’ family members. Since an isolated partner is more easily controlled, abusers usually seek to damage their partners’ relationships with those in their support system. Denise, Nicole’s sister, was very protective of her and critical of her relationship with O. J. He mentions that he tried warning Nicole about Denise’s “jealousy,” aiming to discredit her support by reframing her as a threat to Nicole. O. J. again dismisses Denise as being jealous when discussing her in his interview, hoping to discredit her accusations that he is to blame for Nicole’s murder.
Legal issues: Viewers of the program saw shocking photos of Nicole’s injuries after O. J. assaulted her on New Year’s 1989, which later required a trip to the hospital. When police arrived, Nicole ran out of the bushes, yelling, “He’s going to kill me!” She expressed frustration that police had not taken any action against her partner, despite this being the ninth time they had been called to the Simpson residence for domestic violence-related issues. O. J. was later arrested and charged with spousal abuse, plead no contest and was sentenced to 120 hours community service, two years probation, and a $700 fine. A New York Times article describes the preferential treatment O. J. was given during sentencing, and the leniency with which his sentence was enforced, “That arrangement was characterized by domestic violence experts today as highly unusual and ineffective.” Nicole told many of her friends and family about the abuse she experienced both before and after this assault. Their written testimony was later submitted as evidence during O. J.’s murder trial. O. J. and Nicole later decided to get a divorce, but Nicole would not allow the abuse to be discussed during the proceedings. O. J. mentions in his interview that he appreciates how Nicole “wouldn’t lie” about him abusing her, implying that her many calls to the police, stories to friends, and even documentation of abuse were all made under false pretenses. Interviewer Judith Regan suggests that Nicole may have been too scared to be honest about her abuse during the divorce; indeed, many survivors may fear retaliation from their partners if they are truthful about their experiences.
While calling the police or pursuing legal action against an abuser are not always the safest or even best options for survivors, safely documenting the abuse in the moment with photos or witness statements as Nicole did can help to build evidence against an abuser in the event legal action (including custody proceedings) is taken down the line. Should a survivor choose to document what they’re experiencing, it’s crucial to find safe ways to do so. Assisting a survivor in safely documenting can be a great way for concerned friends or family members to support someone in an abusive relationship, as long as the survivor expresses wanting that kind of support. Unless someone is in immediate danger, we discourage involving the police on behalf of someone else unless they have asked you to do so. If you need help finding ways to safely document an abusive situation, please reach out to one of our advocates today.
Stalking: Unfortunately, divorce is not usually enough to stop an abuser from seeking power and control over their ex-partner, and they may find new and different ways to abuse once the relationship has ended. We often see emotionally abusive behaviors such as stalking, which is loosely defined as “any course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” O. J. described several incidents where he claims he coincidentally ran into Nicole, but Nicole shared with friends that she felt he was stalking her, showing up everywhere she went. In his interview, O. J. talks about a time when he showed up at Nicole’s house, only to watch her having sex with a new partner through the window before knocking on her door to interrupt them. By following and watching Nicole after their break up, O. J. continued to assert power and control over her, and his behavior was emotionally abusive. O. J. also discussed an incident in which he physically broke down Nicole’s door to talk to her about behavior of hers he did not approve of. Nicole’s 911 call from that night was featured on FOX’s program, and O. J. can be heard in the background making threats, yelling, and calling her names. While O. J. justified his actions as being necessary to protect his children, that reasoning does not excuse his behavior. If O. J. had concerns about Nicole’s parenting, he had the option to discuss them with her respectfully. Putting her in physical danger, breaking both physical and emotional boundaries and trying to control her choices were abusive decisions that he made, and they were not Nicole’s fault.
Reconciliation: O. J. and Nicole separated and got back together several times over the course of their relationship. While many people think it is easy for a survivor to walk away from an abusive relationship, that is not usually the case. There are many reasons a survivor may choose to reconcile or stay with an abuser, including wanting their children to have a full, loving relationship with both parents, as Nicole did. It takes survivors an average of seven attempts at ending an abusive relationship before ending it for good.
Blaming it on love: O. J. wrote about Nicole in a note to his lawyer, Rob Kardashian, “If we had a problem, it’s because I loved her so much.” We often see the jealous or protective partner romanticized in our society, and abusers may claim to be acting out of love. While love can definitely exist in an abusive relationship, it does not excuse abuse in any way. In healthy relationships, partners trust one another to make their own choices and never jeopardize their partner’s safety, even when they’re upset.
If themes from O. J. and Nicole’s story felt familiar to you, please call or chat with an advocate today. Advocates can help you identify abusive behaviors, develop a personalized safety plan, connect with local legal resources, and so much more. Call or chat with us 24/7/365 by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or chatting with us by selecting, “Chat Now” at the top of our website.
The post “O. J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?”: A Recap from The Hotline appeared first on The National Domestic Violence Hotline.
By Heather, a Hotline Advocate
Lately there has been some confusion about what services the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides. The Hotline deals with situations of abuse or unhealthy behaviors in dating or spousal relationships. If you need help for something other than intimate partner (dating/spouse) abuse, see below for information about organizations that may be better able to assist you.
We are not a reporting agency. We are confidential and anonymous. We cannot call 911 for you.
Hotline advocates cannot make direct reports of any kind to law enforcement. While we are mandated to report child abuse and abuse of vulnerable adults to the appropriate authorities whenever personally identifying information is shared, doing so takes time away from the thousands of victims and survivors of relationship abuse who contact us each day.
Our advocates receive extensive training to empower survivors of intimate partner violence, provide education on the dynamics of abuse within romantic relationships, help create safety plans, and refer to local resources specifically for survivors of abuse or violence from a dating partner or spouse. You deserve the very best support for your situation, no matter what you are dealing with, and we want you to get that support. If you are facing issues other than intimate partner violence, please check this list for resources better equipped to provide you with support.
If you have concerns about anyone’s immediate safety—call 911!
For concerns about CHILD abuse:
For concerns about VULNERABLE ADULT or ELDER abuse:
For adults who are not disabled or elderly facing abuse from anyone other than an intimate partner, including neighbors, roommates, employers, and strangers:
For survivors of sexual abuse by someone other than an intimate partner:
For parents and guardians who are facing violence from their child(ren):
For people who are feeling suicidal:
By Michelle, Administrative Assistant and former Advocate at The Hotline
We are excited to bring back our Survivor Spotlight Series (formerly Survivor Series) with Heather, a 29–year–old woman living in Tennessee who has been able to find a life free from abuse after contacting The Hotline. Warning: This story contains descriptions of severe physical violence that may be triggering for some readers.
In 2007, Heather, then 19 years old, met a charming man who would soon become her boyfriend. Their relationship seemed great, but as soon as they moved in together, her partner became controlling and the two began fighting a lot. The first time he hit her, he apologized and the violence stopped—for awhile. The dynamic of their relationship gradually began to shift. Every time Heather disagreed with, questioned, or even had an opinion different than her partner’s, she would face violent consequences.
Heather’s partner engaged in emotionally abusive behaviors as well, telling her that the abuse was her fault, the sexual abuse and abandonment she experienced as a child were her fault, and that nobody would ever love her. “At first I didn’t believe it,” says Heather, “but eventually his words made sense because they gave an explanation for things I never understood.”
Pregnancy is one of the most dangerous times for survivors of abuse, and unfortunately that was true for Heather’s situation. Heather experienced two miscarriages because of the violence she was experiencing. During her third pregnancy, Heather was constantly sick, and the abuse continued. After she had her daughter, her husband’s behavior escalated. He chose what to name their daughter, made all the decisions surrounding her care, and even hit Heather while she was holding their baby. He bought a gun and slept with it under his pillow, even with their daughter in the bed. “He held it to my head so many times,” she told us. One day, Heather’s partner held her and her grandmother at gunpoint while he left with the child, eventually returning so she could breastfeed. “Multiple times I left, but every time he would go to my family’s house and threaten them or find me. I kept praying for him to change or for God to make a way out for me.”
Heather describes a situation in which others knew about the abuse, “People were afraid of him and even when they were around for it, they’d look the other way.” Her husband began seeing other women, and even brought them to their house (with their young daughter present) while Heather worked. In 2011, three years after her daughter was born, one of these women came to the house while Heather was home and the truth came out. “He flipped on her and then on me,” she says. “She called the police but it was almost too late for me.”
Heather’s partner broke her phone, as he had done many other times, and threw her face-first off their bed onto the floor, busting open her lip. He then poured rubbing alcohol into her mouth, forced her to swallow it, and held a knife to her throat while her daughter sat there, watching it all in tears. When her abuser found out that the cops were on their way, he locked himself in the bathroom with Heather, wrapping a beach towel around her head twice so her screams would not be heard. Fortunately, the police saw the light on, broke down the door, and arrested her partner that night.
Heather’s husband was affiliated with a gang, so she, determined to find a way out of her situation before he could send someone to come after her, decided to call The Hotline. Though the local shelter she connected to was full, they arranged for her to stay in a hotel for the night, provided her with personal hygiene supplies, and provided transportation to the shelter the next day. Ultimately, Heather sold everything she owned and left the area, living in three different shelters in a neighboring state to keep her and her daughter safe before eventually moving back home. Legal aid helped her file for divorce, and she has only seen her ex once since he was let out on probation after serving just nine months in prison. While he still tries to exert control by causing drama in her life, Heather has put up barriers from contact as a way to keep herself safer. Whereas in the past she had been unable to keep a steady job, Heather has been at her current position for three years, and is able to support her family.
Though she has been free from abuse for over five years and has since remarried to a loving, respectful man, there are still days when Heather struggles with those traumatic memories. However, she describes herself as a much stronger person now, and hopes her story will help other survivors feel empowered to leave their abusive situations, “I want them to know it’s not their fault and they can make it alone! Most people did not recognize what I was going through because I hid behind a smile. I was manipulated so badly by my ex-husband that I believed I deserved it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone through that. No one deserves it. I left everything to get away, started over and rebuilt my life. I am living proof that you can get out and make it on your own.”
Thank you so much to Heather for sharing her experience with us and giving us permission to publish it here. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, please call or chat with us today. Whether you are feeling strong enough to leave or want to explore how to stay safer in your relationship, our trained advocates are here 24/7/365 to provide support, guidance, and local resources.
Give a survivor a chance at life free from abuse today by donating to The Hotline.
The post Survivor Spotlight: “It Was Almost Too Late for Me” appeared first on The National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Austin, Texas / Los Angeles, Calif. – Actress, author and philanthropist Pamela Anderson announced, today, the donation of $30,000 to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) on behalf of the Pamela Anderson Foundation. This marks the fourth year of the Pamela Anderson Foundation’s generous support of The Hotline. Anderson, who now spends most of her time raising funds for non-profit organizations worldwide, visited The Hotline’s headquarters in 2015 to present a $60,000 donation and hear firsthand how advocates are making a difference in the lives of those affected by abuse.
Anderson’s donation will support The Hotline’s work in educating and providing resources to family members affected by abusive relationships in the home, by providing emotional support, safety planning and local resources, such as legal advice and counseling.
Advocates from The Hotline often hear from victims and survivors whose abusive partners exploit their children as a tactic for control in the relationship. They work with victims and survivors to assess tactics that are used when there are young people in the home and provide safety-planning tips. They also coach families on how to communicate when alcohol and drug abuse are a factor.
Every day, advocates at The Hotline receive nearly 1,300 calls, chats and texts from victims, survivors and their friends and family seeking information about domestic violence. With one in four women, one in seven men and one in three teens experiencing physical, emotional or verbal abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime, the need to provide resources and support for victims is critical.
“It’s a privilege to continue to support the important work of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, whose advocates I’ve had an opportunity to meet and hear from directly,” said Pamela Anderson, founder of The Pamela Anderson Foundation. “As a mother of two, I am particularly delighted to know that our donation will help ensure that families in need of both compassion and information will continue to find a 24/7, trusted resource in The Hotline.”
“Our everyday work is made possible by supporters like Pamela Anderson, and we are tremendously grateful for her partnership and generous contributions over the past four years,” said Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer of The Hotline. “The Foundation’s support significantly and positively impacts our ability to offer services and provide resources for parents who are experiencing abuse, which is critical to our mission.”
About the Pamela Anderson Foundation (PAF)
The Pamela Anderson Foundation supports organizations and individuals that stand on the front lines in the protection of human, animal, and environmental rights. By funding the efforts of those who inform and defend the planet and all who live within it, the Pamela Anderson Foundation is an agent of change, love and an advocate for justice. For more information, please visit https://www.pamelaandersonfoundation.org/paf/.
Connect with Pamela
About the National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a non-profit organization established in 1996 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Operating around the clock, confidential and free of cost, The Hotline provides victims and survivors with life-saving tools and immediate support. Callers to The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) can expect highly trained advocates to offer compassionate support, crisis intervention information and referral services in more than 200 languages. Visitors to TheHotline.org can chat live with advocates and they can find information about domestic violence, safety planning, local resources, and ways to support the organization.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline relies on the generous support of individuals, private gifts from corporations and foundations and federal grants. It is funded in part by Grant Number 90EV0426 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/Administration for Children and Families. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Administration for Children and Families or the U.S. Department of HHS.
Kyrsten Aspegren, Edelman for The Hotline
NDVH@edelman.com / (512) 770-8036
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By Heather, a Hotline advocate
All of us at The Hotline were filled with a familiar mixture of heartbreak and outrage when we heard the tragic news of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School–the 18th school shooting of 2018. As the story unfolded in the coming days, it wasn’t shocking to us that the man who killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida was allegedly abusive to his past girlfriend. No other marker is as widely shared among men who carry out these kinds of atrocities as a history of violence towards their intimate partners.
Here at The Hotline, every time a mass shooting occurs, our advocates hear from survivors of abuse who are concerned that their boyfriends or husbands are capable of such large-scale violence; because in 98% of mass shootings the perpetrators are men. While we are able to encourage them to take steps such as reaching out to law enforcement and safety planning around having guns in their homes, the reality is that as long as an abuser has access to a firearm, they pose a very serious threat to survivors, their loved ones, and the lives of others in their communities. Regardless of your beliefs on guns, we can all agree that nobody deserves to live in fear of the horror their partner might cause out of a need for power and control, and everyone deserves to feel safe.
If you or someone you know is in a relationship that feels unsafe, especially if the abusive person has access to firearms, please call or chat with us whenever it’s safe to do so. We’re here 24/7/365. Our advocates can help you find local resources like shelters, counseling and legal help, and work with you to make a plan to keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible.
Wondering what you can do to create positive change around this issue?
Whether you are a victim/survivor or a concerned family or friend, we are here for you. Call or chat with us 24/7/365. Call us at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or chat by selecting the Chat Now button right here on our website. Chat en español 12-6 p.m. Hora Central.
By Tatiana Shams, Content Manager
Talking about abuse and domestic violence can be a difficult task for anyone. It can be painful, confusing and make you feel ashamed, inadequate and isolated.
And it can be incredibly challenging when you are a man because of all the stigma, fear, misinformation and societal pressures that only men seem to experience.
We know that while domestic violence does not discriminate when it comes to gender, men seem to not report abuse in the same way women do. In fact, many men remain silent because they think there’s no point in reporting the abuse because no one will ever believe them. Let’s debunk some of the myths about abuse and why are men not believed:
The world tells us that men can’t be victims of abuse: We know that 1 in 10 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner and yet, we also hear from our male contacts that they are simply not believed or taken seriously when reporting the abuse to family members, friends or law enforcement. On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, so violence can and does happen to men too!
The media tells us men are just the perpetrators of violence, but never the victims: In “Contribution of Media to the Normalization and Perpetuation of Domestic Violence,” we see that domestic violence has become so pervasive in our society thanks to media exposure that we have become desensitized and even accustomed to it. According to this study, “chronic and repeated exposure to domestic violence is believed to cause changes in affective, cognitive, and behavioral processes.” So, what happens when this repeated exposure only portrays men as perpetrators and not victims? You get the idea. But make no mistake: domestic violence is not normal, it’s not a joke and it’s not something we should readily accept as something that only happens to women. It happens to men too.
Men are not real men if they can’t take it: We hear from male contacts that reach out to The Hotline daily that they feel emasculated and like less of a man when undergoing situations of abuse at the hands of their spouses or partners. Some have even reported feeling so ashamed that they don’t want to acknowledge the abuse because they fear that if they do they will make the situation “real.” According to the American Psychological Association, stereotypes of masculinity can have a negative effect on young boys and men because they can stigmatize “normal human emotions,” and if a man feels stigmatized about what’s happening to him, it’s very likely they might not want to report the abuse or talk about ways of dealing with it and their emotions. Feeling angry, scared or sad are normal emotions for all people when dealing with abuse regardless of sex or sexual orientation and they don’t have to “take it” to prove their masculinity.
Men don’t have access to the same resources as women: While there seem to be more resources for women than men when it comes to dealing with domestic violence, we continue to make strides toward this issue. In Oct. 2017, the Associated Press reported that a shelter exclusively for men was the second of its kind to open its doors in the state of Texas. They suggest more resources are becoming available to men as society’s views on abuse and domestic violence affecting men are also changing.
Men who are gay or bisexual will bring shame to the LGBTQIA community if they report being victims of abuse: It’s already hard enough dealing with abuse when you are a heterosexual person, but for gay or trans men this can be even more difficult, as we hear from some LGBTQIA contacts that reporting abuse in a same-sex or trans-relationship will bring “shame” to their community because it will create more stereotypes, misinformation and also because some of them feel this is an issue that should be dealt with only behind closed doors. As Audre Lorde famously coined, “silence will not protect you,” regardless of what your sexual orientation is, it is always worth talking about it and it’s always worth leaving.
To combat these myths, here are a few ideas to help men affected by abuse and domestic violence:
Believe victims and survivors: One of the most important and compassionate things that we can do to support male victims of abuse and domestic violence is to simply believe. It’s worth repeating: do not judge, do not criticize and listen without questioning the victim’s experience. It’s already hard enough to reach out for help when you are a man, so if you find that a male victim wants to share their experience with you, don’t be so quick to judge or assume that they are not telling the truth.
Document the abuse: This is a great way to not only keep track of the situation but also to materialize the abuse, as we mentioned before, many people believe that if they don’t talk about it’s like it’s not really happening. If you are experiencing abuse, it may help to document the situation: There are several ways you can do document the abuse: take pictures of yourself if you have physical cuts and bruises, keep a calendar that shows the instances of the abuse suffered or start journaling as a way to document the abuse in an organized fashion. Documenting the abuse can help in two ways: It can be a cathartic way to deal with negative emotions and it may also help the victim to obtain legal aid later on. Remember, if you decide to document your experience, make sure your abuser can’t get access to your documents or pictures, so he/she can’t destroy the evidence and so that you can remain safe while you figure out the next steps in your relationship.
Find a support system: Perhaps there’s a good friend or a coworker you can confide in when talking about what you are experiencing. Having a strong support system could be the key to get through difficult times. You don’t have to share everything that is happening to you, but just the fact there is someone there to listen to what you are going through can be beneficial for your emotional well-being.
Take a proactive approach to your own safety: Keeping your mental, emotional and physical sanity in check are great ways to remain grounded during and after a situation of abuse. Perhaps you like to play video games, read comics or lift weights. Engage in activities that make you feel happy and good about yourself. Avoid self-destructive behaviors such binge-drinking, using drugs or anything that can have negative consequences for your health or the health of those around you.
Reach out to The Hotline for help: Know that our advocates are here to support you every step of the way with a sympathetic hear and zero judgment. We are here 24/7/365 and our interactions are completely free and confidential.
This article is an updated version of Men Can Be Victims of Abuse, Too