The National Domestic Violence Hotline

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

The Hotline

The Hotline Commends Passage of the CARES Act (Tuesday, March 31st 2020)

The Hotline Commends Passage of the CARES Act

Urges Congress to Prioritize Needs of Survivors of Sexual & Domestic Violence in Fourth Stimulus Package

The National Domestic Violence Hotline (“The Hotline”) commends the passage of the Coronavirus Aide, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (S.3548). The CARES Act includes $45 million to the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) funded programs that provide emergency housing and shelter to domestic violence survivors across the country. It also includes funds for The Hotline to ensure critical, ongoing services to survivors that reach out for support, resources, and safety planning during this time of heightened risk due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

“We’re hearing every day from survivors and their loved ones about how COVID-19 is already being used by abusive partners to further control and abuse,” said Katie Ray-Jones, Chief Executive Officer of The Hotline. “We know that any external factors that add stress and financial strain can create circumstances where a survivor’s safety is further compromised. Sheltering in place with one’s abuser makes this experience even more dangerous. Our advocates are providing critical safety planning and resources for instances such as this. We know that survivors are extremely strong and resourceful, and we will do all we can to transfer power back to them so they can make informed decisions on what is best for them.”

The CARES Act does not include any sexual assault programming, nor does it include VAWA-funded programs. The Hotline strongly urges Congress to ensure that the next stimulus package expand comprehensive support for programs that provide critical services to sexual violence and domestic violence survivors, such as those outlined in this letter to Congress signed by over 100 organizations nationwide.

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Staying Safe During COVID-19 (Friday, March 13th 2020)

Avoiding public spaces and working remotely can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but for many survivors, staying home may not be the safest option. We know that any external factors that add stress and financial strain can negatively impact survivors and create circumstances where their safety is further compromised.

Abuse is about power and control. When survivors are forced to stay in the home or in close proximity to their abuser more frequently, an abuser can use any tool to exert control over their victim, including a national health concern such as COVID-19. In a time where companies may be encouraging that their employees work remotely, and the CDC is encouraging “social distancing,” an abuser may take advantage of an already stressful situation to gain more control.

Here’s how COVID-19 could uniquely impact intimate partner violence survivors:

  • Abusive partners may withhold necessary items, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectants.
  • Abusive partners may share misinformation about the pandemic to control or frighten survivors, or to prevent them from seeking appropriate medical attention if they have symptoms.
  • Abusive partners may withhold insurance cards, threaten to cancel insurance, or prevent survivors from seeking medical attention if they need it.
  • Programs that serve survivors may be significantly impacted –- shelters may be full or may even stop intakes altogether. Survivors may also fear entering shelter because of being in close quarters with groups of people.
  • Survivors who are older or have chronic heart or lung conditions may be at increased risk in public places where they would typically get support, like shelters, counseling centers, or courthouses.
  • Travel restrictions may impact a survivor’s escape or safety plan – it may not be safe for them to use public transportation or to fly.
  • An abusive partner may feel more justified and escalate their isolation tactics.

Here’s what our Advocates have heard from some survivors reaching out:

  • “A chatter mentioned that the abuser was using the virus as a scare tactic to keep the survivor away from their kids.”
  • A chatter said the abuser was using COVID-19 as a scare tactic so that they would not visit family.”
  • “A health professional still living with their abuser called and said they were physically abused that night because their abuser was sure they were trying to infect them with COVID-19.

If any of the above sound like they may be happening to you or someone you love, here are a few suggestions for survivors that may make this uncertain time feel a little bit safer:

Create a safety plan.

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Here at The Hotline, we safety plan with victims, friends, family members, and anyone who is concerned about their own safety or the safety of someone else.

You and your partner may be told by either or both of your employers to work remotely to limit social interaction. Having a safety plan laid out can help you to protect yourself during this stressful time. You can learn more about safety plans here, and you can find an interactive guide to safety planning here.

Because there may be limited shelter availability due to COVID-19, consider alternatives such as staying with family or friends, staying in motels, or sleeping in your vehicle. Be extra mindful of good hygiene practices if you’re leaving as well – wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, minimize contact with surfaces that other people have had contact with, etc.

Practice self-care.

COVID-19 is causing uncertainty for many people, but getting through this time while experiencing abuse can feel really overwhelming. Taking time for your health and wellness can make a big difference in how you feel. To learn more about how to build in self-care while staying safe, you can learn more here.

If you’re a friend or family member of someone experiencing abuse, you may not be able to visit them in person if you live in an area where there are COVID-19 cases. Seeing someone you care about being hurt is stressful. Remind yourself that you can’t make decisions for someone else, but you can encourage your loved one to think about their wellbeing, safety plan and practice self-care while they are in their home.

Reach out for help.

While people are encouraged to stay at home, you may feel isolated from your friends and family. Even if you are isolated, try to maintain social connections online or over the phone, if it is safe to do so, and try to stick to your daily routines as much as possible.

For any victims and survivors who need support, we are here for you, 24/7. Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.

Para información en español, visita la página “En Español.”

You are not alone.

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A Deeper Look Into Gaslighting (Friday, November 22nd 2019)

What is gaslighting? Gaslighting is when your emotions, words, and experiences are twisted and used against you, causing you to question your reality. This can be a very effective form of emotional abuse, because once an abusive partner has broken down your ability to trust your own perspective, you may be more vulnerable to the effects of abuse, making it more difficult to leave the abusive relationship.

We’ve talked about the types of gaslighting techniques, and the signs to look out for, but what does it look like in a real situation? How can one stay safe in this situation or work to prove that what happened, happened?

Here is an example of a survivor’s story, who shared what it was like to experience the abuse of gaslighting. This story is especially powerful because it blends emotional, digital, sexual, financial, and physical abuse:

“I don’t know what’s real anymore. I saw him hit me, and I try to talk to him about it, but he tells me that it never happened. The bruise I got I thought came from him, but he told me I fell down. But how did I fall down? I thought I saw exactly what happened. I ask him about it again, but he says, ‘You fell down, I saw you fall down. I would never hit you that hard. You’re crazy, it’s all in your head.’ I started doubting my sanity. I really thought I saw him raise his fist…”*

*While this story uses he/his/him pronouns, anyone is capable of abuse, and anyone can be the victim of it

It’s important to note that gaslighting may not happen right away. It can happen very gradually in a relationship. After experiencing these abusive patterns, you can find yourself feeling more confused, anxious, isolated, and could lose all sense of what is actually happening.

Once you’ve recognized the gaslighting, what can you do?

Here are a few ways to combat gaslighting:


Since gaslighting can make it difficult to feel like you truly remember what happened, it can be helpful to keep proof of the incident(s) so you can rely more on the evidence. Here are some examples of what proof you can document:

  • Keep a journal — Every time you encounter something, write it down in a secret journal your partner doesn’t know about. Write down the date, time, and what happened.
  • Speak to a trusted friend or family member — If you have a trusted friend or family member, telling them what happened or talking out what happened can help you clear your head, and someone else will know what is going on.
  • Keep voice memos — If the abusive partner doesn’t have access to your phone, escape to a room by yourself and record yourself speaking with your phone on what just happened. If your phone isn’t a secret, tape recorders will still record sounds, and you can hide those tapes away.
  • Take pictures — If the abuser doesn’t have access to your phone, take pictures of what happened to you, your child, your pet, or your stuff. The pictures will have a date and time on them in your photo gallery. If your phone isn’t a secret, you can buy a cheap disposable camera at discount stores, and hide the film from your partner.
  • Email — Send your experience, voice memos, pictures, or videos to a trusted friend or family member for safekeeping.

Why do you need this proof? First and foremost, evidence of what occurred can help with your mental health. Recovering from gaslighting that you experienced, for weeks, months, even years, can be difficult to do; seeing proof that it happened, validates your experience, challenges the effects of your partner’s abuse, and can help you determine reality. Proof can also be useful when taking legal action* against the abuser.

*Make sure to check your state’s recording laws before you present the proof in court

No matter the form of documentation, always keep your proof safe and secure by hiding it or sending it to someone you trust. If you are afraid that the proof may be found by your partner in your hiding spot or on your phone, send it to a safe location or a friend and destroy/delete the copies you have. If you have questions, please reach out to an Advocate about ways to document proof while staying safe.

Safety Planning

While documenting your proof, safety planning is also a great way to recognize and heal from gaslighting.

A safety plan is a personalized plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. It involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action, and more.

The more isolated you are from friends and family; the more effective gaslighting can feel. When you are completely isolated from anyone else, you may find yourself relying on your abusive partner to define reality, which creates a very difficult situation to escape.

One way to safety plan against isolation is speaking with a trusted friend or family member. We know that this can be very difficult to do while in an abusive relationship. One thing you could consider is prefacing your conversation with something like, “I don’t have a lot of options right now, and I feel like my partner may be gaslighting me and I want to be able to talk to someone and process what is actually happening,” or “I know that this isn’t a situation I want to stay in nor is safe for me, but for right now one of the things I know my partner is doing is gaslighting me.” Talk about what happened actually happened to get your experience validated. For people who care about you, it can be difficult to learn what is happening.

If you are planning to leave your relationship, make a plan for how and where you will escape quickly. If you do have to leave in a hurry, make sure you take your documented proof of gaslighting with you, and this list of important items.

Another way to safety plan after leaving a relationship is to reach out to a local domestic violence program or join a support group. There, you can talk to each other and share experiences with others who were in a similar situation. Gaslighting is a way that abusive partners minimize and/or dismiss what they did, so talking it out with others will validate your experience and recognize that what the abuser did is not ok, and it is emotionally abusive.


Combating gaslighting also involves self-care. Whether you’re still in the abusive relationship or after you’ve left, healing your mind is an important step. To put it simply, self-care is really about taking care of yourself in ways that feel best to you and bring you comfort.

Self-care may mean taking a moment to think and process happened to you, which can look like working hard to not accept responsibility for their behaviors. You can practice recognizing when your partner is trying to manipulate the situation, by blame-shifting and putting the problem on you. Abusive partners shape the narrative the way they want it. They want you to think you caused it, but you didn’t (“If you hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have done that.”).

You don’t have to argue about the truth with your partner, you’ll waste energy trying to convince them. Know your truth — there’s no use in trying to convince them. They are denying your reality for a reason and can end up arguing with someone who is refusing to accept responsibility for their behaviors.

Practice trusting your instincts. Give yourself permission to trust your feelings, your thoughts, decisions, and intuition; know that what you felt was true, and you do not need to convince anybody of it. Listen to what your gut is telling you. It can take some concerted effort to remember how to trust your gut after experiencing gaslighting for a while. Have patience with your own process.

You could also try to seek therapy, preferably someone with a domestic violence background. Gaslighting can lead to paranoid thoughts and affect your mental health long term, so seek support if you recognize that gaslighting has been happening.

In order to overcome this type of abuse, it is important to recognize the signs, and trust yourself again. If this situation sounds familiar to you, or you are questioning what’s happening in your relationship, reach out to an advocate. They are here to support you 24/7/365. Reach out by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 TTY, or chat online by clicking the purple “Chat Now” button at the top of the screen.

Remember— you are not alone!

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Celebrating FVPSA’s 35th Anniversary At The National Domestic Violence Hotline (Wednesday, October 9th 2019)

It’s fall, the leaves are changing colors, and we’re feeling nostalgic at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline). We just answered our 5 millionth contact earlier this year, and while this number is a bittersweet reminder of how prevalent domestic violence is, we’re thankful to be able to provide resources and support to survivors and their loved ones every single day.

You may not know this, but 35 years ago, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) was passed and implemented, creating what is now the primary federal funding source for domestic violence programs across the country. These programs provide emergency shelter, housing, and other supportive services for survivors and their children.

With thousands of programs funded through FVPSA, this bill has had a significant impact on meeting the critical needs of survivors as they seek a better future. FVPSA also supports our work at The Hotline, enabling us to answer the call to support people affected by relationship abuse for nearly 25 years. As we look forward to the new year and all the challenges and opportunities it brings, we wanted to take some time to pause and reflect on the past 35 years of FVPSA and all that it has done to enhance the experiences of survivors as they reach out to The Hotline for support, resources, and navigate the often complicated systems in place in order to stay safe from continued abuse.

While FVPSA first passed in 1984, The Hotline didn’t actually exist till much later. The passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994 led to the creation of The Hotline, and, for the first time ever, survivors from across the country could call our confidential, free, national hotline to get support and resources for the abuse they were experiencing. The incredible impact of this has never been lost on us, and we never take for granted that 24 years ago, calling a free, confidential hotline to get help wasn’t an option for many survivors.

Today, we not only answer phone calls from survivors and their loved ones, but are also able to provide support through digital chat and text. In addition to this, we also have a program focused on prevention called loveisrespect, helping young folks understand the dynamics of healthy relationships and identify what dating violence looks like through resources and language that is palatable to them.

Every year, we’ve seen a steady growth in contact volume by about 10%, which is likely credited to more folks learning about our services and feeling safe to reach out for support. In 2018, we experienced our highest contacts ever received in our history with 573,670 contacts – a 39% increase from the previous year. Most folks that reach out to us identify as female, accounting for 87% of our contact volume.

We’ve seen a significant increase in folks utilizing chat services since it became available in 2013, and in 2018, we experienced the largest growth in our history of offering digital chat with a 147% increase over the previous year. And, in an effort to accurately identify those that reach out to us, we updated our gender data gather in 2015 to include contacts that identify as non-binary, trans female, trans male and others. Individuals that report identifying as non-binary have increased over 220% in the past year, with similar trends for folks identifying as trans male and trans female.

Answering our 5 millionth call was a reminder to us that the work to end domestic violence is nowhere near done, but we’re hopeful that one day we will have a world where all relationships are positive, healthy and free from violence. And, while that end may not be on the immediate horizon, we know that we’ll be able to be there when survivors reach out every single day because of the incredible support of FVPSA. Happy 35th FVPSA!

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The What, Why, and How of DVAM (Thursday, September 26th 2019)

Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence, domestic abuse, or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. It can happen to anyone at any point in a relationship. Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, cause fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish, or force them to behave in ways they do not want. This October, like everyone so far, we are bringing awareness to domestic violence through the #1Thing campaign and celebrating DVAM.

What is DVAM?

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is held throughout the month of October as a way to bring advocates across the nation together to end domestic violence. Communities and advocacy organizations across the country will connect with one another in a true sense of unity to end domestic violence for good.


DVAM is a chance for anyone and everyone – victims, survivors, advocates, supporters, and political leaders – to unite in our work to end domestic violence. This is a time of solidarity and support, and a time for victims and survivors to share their stories.

With so many people speaking in a unified voice during the month of October about domestic violence, this raises our collective awareness about this critical issue. Only through collaboration will it be possible to end domestic violence.

How to get involved in DVAM

We encourage everyone to get involved and help raise awareness about domestic violence every October. We recognize the power that each one of us has in making a difference.

This year, we are participating in the Domestic Violence Awareness Project’s #1Thing campaign. Change can start with only #1Thing. One person’s actions may seem insignificant, but together a communities’ collective “#1Things” can lead to real social transformation.

Follow our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, tag us in your post and use the hashtag #1Thing to show your #1Thing that will end domestic violence.

What is your #1Thing you want everyone to know about domestic abuse?

What is your #1Thing you want all survivors of domestic abuse to know?

What #1Thing are you doing to show support for survivors?

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Statement by Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline on Mass Violence in Dayton and El Paso (Monday, August 5th 2019)

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is devastated by the back-to-back acts of violence that have occurred in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the victims of these mass shootings, and we urge Congress to take bold actions to prevent future incidents of mass violence.

Attacks like these are often fueled by xenophobia and are part of a larger, global narrative of violence rooted in white nationalism focused on targeting marginalized communities. The dangerous rhetoric used towards these communities is fueling violence — and it must stop.

The Hotline is no stranger to understanding the dangers of gun violence. We know that the presence of a gun in a home increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent. Research shows that previous abuse in a relationship is the greatest determining factor in murder/suicides. And we know that mass shooters often have a history of violence against women, ranging from domestic violence to stalking to gendered harassment. The Hotline calls for immediate, comprehensive action to curb gun violence: we need to ban militarized weapons, close the ‘boyfriend’ loophole and keep guns out of the hands of all abusers, and direct funds to gun violence prevention efforts in the communities most impacted by violence.

The world we envision is one where all relationships are free from violence. We cannot move towards that vision without urgent, tangible action from our Members of Congress. We urge you to do the right thing and act immediately.

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Statement from Katie Ray-Jones: Introduction of FVPSA 2019 (Friday, July 26th 2019)

“The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) and its dating abuse, prevention, and education project for youth, loveisrespect, is authorized through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA). For more than 21 years, FVPSA has provided critical funding that has allowed us to answer more than five million calls, texts, and chats from people affected by intimate partner violence,” said Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer of The Hotline. “Millions of survivors depend on our organization for resources and support, and the successful reauthorization of FVPSA with key improvements will ensure that we are able to continue to provide this life-saving support to survivors. We commend Sen. Casey and Sen. Murkowski for their continued commitment to all survivors through the introduction of the bipartisan Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvements Act of 2019.”

FVPSA is the nation’s only dedicated source of funding for domestic violence shelters and provides critical support for shelters, coalitions, training and technical assistance centers, children’s services, emergency response hotlines, and prevention initiatives. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvements Act of 2019 expands grant programs and makes many needed improvements such as updated provisions for The Hotline and expanded services for underrepresented populations, including American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and Deaf victims of domestic and dating violence. These updates ensure that more survivors have access to support and safety.

Domestic violence affects one in four women and one in seven men1. In A YEAR OF IMPACT: National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect the organization reports it received 573,670 contacts, more than in any other year since the organization’s inception.

Types of domestic violence and dating abuse most discussed in 2018 include:

•    Emotional Abuse: 88% (up 2% from 2017)

•    Physical Abuse: 60% (no change from 2017)

•    Financial Abuse: 24% (up 2% from 2017)

•    Digital Abuse: 15% (up 3% from 2017)

•    Sexual Abuse: 11% (up 1% from 2017)

About The National Domestic Violence Hotline

The Hotline is the only national organization providing services 24/7/365 via phone, chat, and text, helping those affected by relationship violence find the support and safety they deserve. We also focus on the prevention of abuse through loveisrespect, our healthy relationships platform that engages, educates, and empowers young people to prevent and end abusive relationships. The Hotline and loveisrespect are free and confidential and available for anyone who is affected by abuse.  The organization has the most comprehensive resource database in the country, with access to 4,800 service providers and resources in the U.S., U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.

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 Family and Youth Services Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 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.

For more information visit www.thehotline.org.

For questions or to arrange a media interview with Katie Ray-Jones contact Liz Bradford, hotline.media@ndvh.org, 214-202-8830.

¹ Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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NDVH Annual Impact Report shows record-setting year (Wednesday, June 19th 2019)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 19, 2019 – The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) received more calls, online chats, and texts, also known as “contacts”, in 2018 than in any other year since the organization’s inception according to internal data collection.  At a congressional briefing in the nation’s capital today, leaders and partners of The Hotline and its relationship abuse prevention project, loveisrespect, shared results of the organization’s annual impact report with legislators and their staff members. In A YEAR OF IMPACT: National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect  the organization reports it received 573,670 contacts from people affected by domestic violence (DV), an increase of 36% from 2017. Additionally, researchers saw a 48% increase in website visits to TheHotline.org and loveisrespect.org combined and a 147% increase in the number of people reaching out for help via chat.  These last two statistics indicate more victims, survivors, their helpers, and others are finding ways beyond the phone to secure the support and information they need.

Established in 1996 and headquartered in Austin, Texas, The Hotline is the only national 24-hour domestic violence hotline providing compassionate support, life-saving resources, and safety planning services via phone, online chat, and text. In 2007, The Hotline established loveisrespect, an initiative that engages, educates, and empowers young people to prevent and end abusive relationships.

Chief Executive Officer of The National Domestic Violence Hotline Katie Ray-Jones attributes the increase in contacts to media and pop culture’s focus on the pervasiveness of violence in relationships. “The report shows that together, The Hotline and loveisrespect received four times the increase in media coverage in 2018 as compared to 2017. With greater awareness of this issue that affects ¹one in four women and one in seven men, we’re seeing more people affected by abuse taking brave steps forward and seeking support. It’s important we continue to shine a light on domestic violence. We all play a role in ending it.”

According to the report, the number one resource referral type in 2018 fell under the category of legal resources. If and when they decide to leave their abusive partner, many victims want to know what their rights and protections are in their cities and states. In 2018, advocates provided 156,157 referrals to shelter and domestic violence service providers and 213,926 referrals to additional resources across the nation. WomensLaw.org and the Legal Resource Center on Violence Against Women are two of the top resources provided. 

One of The Hotline’s expert advocates, Alexis, is on the front lines answering the calls for support. During the briefing, she shared what her work day is like. She talked about the feeling she gets knowing that she’s helping to equip victims with the tools they’ll need to find safety and that she’s empowering them with hope. “I appreciate the opportunity to be on the other end, helping and spreading awareness on domestic violence and the different types of abuse. It’s our job to offer compassionate support and walk victims through their options, whether it be for shelter or legal services or counseling services.” 

The 2018 Impact Report by the numbers:

  • 22% (similar to 2017) reported that their abusive situation involved children
  • 13,625 victims experienced stalking
  • 7,482 cited suicidal threats from their abusive partners
  • 4.7% (up 1.1% from 2017) of victims disclosed the use or threat of firearms
  • 4,565 victims experienced threats related to immigration status

Types of domestic violence and dating abuse most discussed in contacts (calls, chats, texts) with The Hotline and loveisrespect:

  • Emotional Abuse: 88% (up 2% from 2017) reported some type of emotional and verbal abuse.  Emotionally abusive partners often exert power and control over their partners by limiting who their partners see, what they do, and where they go. They instill shame and fear and often demean their partners with insults, threats, and punishments that slowly eat away at their partner’s self-worth. Emotional abusers may prevent their partners from making decisions, and sometimes they prevent them from working outside of the home or seeing family and friends – isolating them.
  • Physical Abuse: 60% (no change from 2017) reported some type of physical abuse such as hitting, biting, and choking.  Physical abuse is often what most people think about when we use the term domestic violence.
  • Financial Abuse: 24% (up 2% from 2017) reported their abusers were stealing money or limiting access to money, using their partner’s credit cards or forcing their partners to co-sign on lines of credit. Some forced their partners to open joint accounts and preventing them from opening separate accounts or having access to their own money.
  • Digital Abuse: 15% (up 3% from 2017) reported digital abuse including using GPS or a phone to stalk their partners or track their travel, sending relentless text messages, closely monitoring computer use and using cameras in the home to monitor activities. The digital abuse category adapts as innovations in technology expand.
  • Sexual Abuse: 11% (up 1% from 2017) reported that abusive partners may do things such as forcing unwanted sexual activity, involving other people in sexual activities without permission, forced viewing of pornography or demanding their partner wear sexually explicit clothing.

For more information on the 2018 Impact Report and The National Domestic Violence Hotline, please visit www.thehotline.org. Follow The Hotline on Facebook, on Twitter @ndvh, and on Instagram @ndvhofficial. Visit www.loveisrespect.org and follow loveisrespect on Facebook, on Twitter @loveisrespect, and on Instagram @loveisrespectofficial.

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2019 Advocate Survey Press Releas (Tuesday, June 11th 2019)

Majority of advocates, attorneys report immigrant survivors are fearful of police
On June 4, 2019, seven national organizations – Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence (APIGBV), ASISTA, Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), and the Tahirih Justice Center – released the results of a nationwide survey of advocates and attorneys on the fears and concerns of immigrant survivors in reporting domestic violence and sexual assault. “This survey shows us the grave chilling effect that recent immigration policy changes are having on immigrant survivors of violence,” said Archi Pyati, Chief of Policy for the Tahirih Justice Center. “This is the message they are receiving: either stay with your abuser or risk deportation.” A total of 575 victim advocates and attorneys in 42 states, one U.S. territory, and the District of Columbia completed the survey and reported how changing immigration policies affect the concerns of service providers and the fears of immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The survey findings showed that 59 percent of respondents observed an increase in the number of immigration-related questions that their agencies were receiving from immigrant survivors. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence already face difficult challenges in escaping and overcoming abuse. The current environment creates even higher barriers in getting help, and emboldens abusers to continue to act without repercussions,” said Grace Huang, Policy Director at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. The survey revealed that 52% of advocates have worked with immigrant survivors who decided to drop civil or criminal cases because they were fearful to continue with their cases. This demonstrates an increase compared to a previous survey conducted in 2017. Additionally, three out of four service providers responding to the survey reported that immigrant survivors had concerns about going to court for a matter related to the abuser/offender. Finally, 76 percent of advocates reported that immigrant survivors have shared concerns about contacting police. “If immigrants are too afraid to call the police or go to court because of fear of deportation, they become more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation,” said Rosie Hidalgo, Senior Director of Public Policy for Casa de Esperanza: National Latina Network. “This undermines victim safety as well as public safety and is contrary to our nation’s commitment to affording protections for all survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.”

Current immigration policies, including increased entanglement of local and state law enforcement with federal immigration enforcement efforts, tightened eligibility for legal protections, a narrowed pathway to asylum, and expanded deportation priorities have had a significant impact on the climate of fear affecting immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and has undermined their access to safety and justice. “While deeply unsettling, it comes as no surprise that a huge majority (76%) of immigrant survivors are hesitant to reach out to the police for assistance,” said Qudsia Raja, Policy Director, National Domestic Violence Hotline. “This trend is consistent with what advocates at The Hotline have been hearing on the lines over the past several years. We have serious concerns that reasonable fears of detention, deportation, or family separation is causing immigrant survivors to stay in increasingly dangerous relationships.” Congress created important protections for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in the express recognition that perpetrators often exploit a victim’s lack of immigration status as a tactic of abuse. The U and T visa program in VAWA was created to “strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to detect, investigate, and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking… and other crimes created against aliens, while offering protection to victims of such offenses in keeping with the humanitarian interests of the United States.” “Established federal law has been lifesaving for survivors of violence. It is vital that these protections remain available to ensure that survivors can flee and rebuild their lives,” said Monica McLaughlin, Director of Public Policy at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “Abusers often use the threat of deportation against immigrant survivors as a means to maintain power and control. When survivors fear that reaching out to services and institutions like the courts will lead to their deportation or separation from their families, this weakens public safety and existing laws designed for their protection, while at the same time strengthens the threats of abusers and perpetrators of crime.” said Cecelia Friedman Levin, Senior Policy Council at ASISTA. “If we are serious about addressing the epidemic of sexual violence in our country, we must create safe avenues for immigrant survivors to come forward and receive help,” said Terri Poore, Policy Director at the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. “It is deeply alarming that so many immigrant survivors suffer fear of deportation in addition to the trauma of sexual violence.” Read the Survey Key Findings report to learn more about the results of the 2019 Advocate and Legal Service Survey Regarding Immigrant Survivors. For comment on this topic, please contact Pegah Nabili at pegahn@tahirih.org, Grace Huang at ghuang@api-gbv.org, or Monica McLaughlin at communications@nnedv.org.

Partner agencies include:

The Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence is a national resource center on domestic violence, sexual violence, trafficking, and other forms of gender-based violence in Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The Institute serves a national network of advocates and community-based service programs that work with Asian and Pacific Islander and immigrant survivors, and is a leader on providing analysis and advocacy on critical issues facing victims in the Asian and Pacific Islander and immigrant communities. The Institute leads by promoting culturally relevant intervention and prevention, expert consultation, technical assistance and training; conducting and disseminating critical research; and informing public policy.

ASISTA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that provides national leadership, advocacy, training, and technical assistance to those working with crime survivors seeking secure immigration status, especially those who have suffered gender-based violence. To learn more about ASISTA, visit www.asistahelp.org.

Casa de Esperanza is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that seeks to mobilize Latinas and Latino communities to end domestic violence. Founded in 1982 in Minnesota to provide emergency shelter for women and children experiencing domestic violence, in 2009 Casa de Esperanza launched the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities. The National Latin@ Network is a national institute focused on preventing and addressing domestic violence in Latino communities, providing national training and technical assistance, policy advocacy and research. To learn more about the organization, please visit casadeesperanza.org and nationallatinonetwork.org.

The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) is the voice in Washington for the 56 state and territorial sexual assault coalitions and 1300 rape crisis centers working to end sexual violence and support survivors. The local rape crisis centers in our network see every day the widespread and devastating impacts of sexual assault upon survivors and provide the frontline response in their communities advocating for victims, spreading awareness and prevention messages, and coordinating with others who respond to these crimes.

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 through its text, chat, and phone services. Contacts 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 Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that serves as a leading national voice for domestic violence victims and their allies. NNEDV’s membership includes all 56 state and territorial coalitions against domestic violence, including over 2,000 local programs. NNEDV has been advancing the movement against domestic violence over 25 years, having led efforts among domestic violence advocates and survivors in urging Congress to pass the landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994. To learn more about NNEDV, please visit NNEDV.org.

The Tahirih Justice Center is the only national, multi-city organization providing both policy advocacy and direct, on the ground holistic legal and social services to immigrant and refugee women and girls fleeing violence. Tahirih will continue to monitor policy shifts that impact women and girls fleeing violence and advocate for the United States to honor its legal obligations to protect those fleeing human rights abuses.

The post 2019 Advocate Survey Press Releas appeared first on The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Polyamory and Abuse (Thursday, May 30th 2019)

by Melissa, a Hotline Advocate  

Abuse can happen in any relationship, whether you have one partner, two partners, or even more. A polyamorous or non-monogamous relationship is not any more likely to be abusive than a monogamous one. Even though poly relationships are not inherently abusive, having multiple partners can create unique situations that abusive people may exploit. As with any relationship, open and honest communication, trust, respect, and equality are what keep these unions healthy. That said, considering these types of relationships exist outside of traditional norms, we may not have as clear of an idea of what a healthy open or poly relationship should look like, making it tougher to identify unhealthy or abusive behaviors.  

It’s important to remember that you always have the right to determine if an open or poly relationship is right for you. There are numerous reasons why people may choose to open their relationship, but it’s important that you are able to discuss those reasons/desires in an honest, nonconfrontational way with your partner so you can design the style of non-monogamy that works for both of you. This ensures you’re both on the same page moving forward. Making sure your existing relationship is strong and healthy before bringing other people in is another key component for negotiating non-monogamy. When you’re working from a place of instability or have unresolved issues, adding to that will likely put more pressure on those weak spots; and if the underlying relationship can’t support the weight, the whole thing will crack.   

If you’re currently in a monogamous relationship and you and your partner are considering polyamory, here are some warning signs that the relationship may be starting out on an unhealthy note, and opening it up to additional partners may exacerbate an unhealthy dynamic:  

  • Your partner has cheated and decides they want to open things up as a result. The decision to open up a relationship should never be made solely by one person, and nobody should be forced into opening up a relationship if they’re not comfortable doing so. Coercing you into accepting a relationship model you may not want creates a clear power and control imbalance, which can lead to abuse. This sort of reasoning also ignores the fact that your partner violated a boundary of your relationship. When trust has been broken like that, it’s important to decide if the two of you want to move forward and work on repairing that trust, or if it’s time to end the relationship altogether. Trust is an integral part to any healthy relationship, and even more so as you work toward non-monogamy. Trust takes time to establish, and it is so crucial for partners to feel secure with one another. When people continue a relationship that has no trust, it can often lead to issues like paranoia, jealousy, unhappiness, and even controlling behavior. 
  • Your partner wants to be non-monogamous but doesn’t want you to have sex with or date anyone else. Establishing expectations and boundaries can be useful as you move toward nonmonogamy. However, the goal of these boundaries should not be to control your behavior or limit you in a way you don’t agree with. Healthy relationships are based in equality and ultimately, each person in the relationship should feel heard and respected. When working out the structure of your non-monogamous relationship, you should feel comfortable taking both of your desires/needs into consideration, finding an option that works for both of you. If your partner is only willing to talk about the possibility of them being open, but you aren’t “allowed to,” that’s a red flag to an unhealthy or abusive relationship. Your partner should not feel like they have the power to dictate those kinds of terms to you or determine what you can/cannot do.  
  • You feel like you need to open up your relationship in order to keep it going. Choosing to explore an open relationship should be a decision you and your partner come to together after a lot of thought and communication around why it would be beneficial, what your desires are, what you’re hoping to achieve, etc. If your partner brings up the option of non-monogamy as a demand or stipulation for the relationship to continue, then that’s cause for concern. Your partner should never make you feel like you must bend over backwards to fulfill their desires, especially if it is something you aren’t comfortable with. The notion that we should set aside what we want and what makes us happy to solely focus on the other person’s needs is not healthy; all that does is create inequality in the relationship and shifts the balance of power to one person when it should be equal. 

If those situations above do not apply to you, then it is very possible to move forward on this healthy poly relationship path! As you and your partner are considering and exploring opening up your relationship, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Boundaries are helpful and healthy! Remember that everyone has a right to set their own personal boundaries and you should feel comfortable being able to discuss those with your partner without them getting upset. Establishing healthy boundaries recognizes that you are an individual with your own wants, needs, and values that should be respected by your partner and vice versa. It’s important to understand that your boundaries can be fluid as the relationship evolves, so being able to actively communicate with your partner about that is key. There is no One Right Way to be non-monogamous; this is about what works for you and your partner. Once you and your partner have talked honestly about what you want and what your concerns are, it can be helpful to write down your boundaries or and expectations to ensure you’re both on the same page. This gives you something to reference later if/when things change or need to be adjusted.  
  • Expect that things will be different. Choosing to open your relationship will most likely change it in some ways and that’s okay. You’re moving from a relationship that only involves two people to one that has three, or four, or more. This shift will impact how you and your initial partner relate to one another. Chances are you’ll talk more, find ways to be more open, and develop a deeper level of trust. Also, expect to be flexible. No matter how much we plan ahead, things won’t always work out the way we want them to and it’s important to be able to adapt as things come up.  
  • Jealousy and insecurity may arise. These are tricky feelings, and they often have a very negative impact on a relationship. If these feelings do come up, what matters is each person is able to address those feelings in an honest and respectful way. If the issues can’t be worked through or have become overwhelming, it’s okay to take a step back and re-evaluate whether this is the right arrangement for you. In any relationship, jealousy should never be used as an excuse for control. A common reaction to those kinds of feelings can be to put new “rules” into place, but this isn’t very helpful as it doesn’t address those emotions or get to the root of what may be causing them. If you’re noticing that your partner never “likes” any of your other partner(s), or that fights with this partner tend to force you to cancel dates with another partner, that’s a big red flag. Trying to control access to your other partner(s) can breed isolation, and when this type of behavior becomes a pattern, its considered abuse. As with any kind of relationship, abusive behaviors can be subtle so knowing what kinds of red flags to look out for can be helpful when making the transition to non-monogamy. Ultimately, it’s never ok for your partner to control your life in any way especially under the guise of an open relationship.  
  • Mistakes will happen. Navigating a new type of relationship can be a learning experience, and it’s likely that mistakes will occur. How you choose to react to and recover from those mistakes is important. If you’re finding that every time a mistake is made, it’s used as an excuse for your partner to impose control over you, that’s concerning. It’s important to be aware of ‘shifting goalposts’, where there are any number of perceived mistakes that your partner attempts to punish you for in some way. When the rules seem to be different on any given day and you don’t always know what they are, it can be difficult to navigate non-monogamy successfully. This is where having something written down can be helpful as it gives you both something to refer back to and change as needed. That being said, having a document or certain rules in place shouldn’t be something your partner holds over your head or uses as an excuse to shame you for making a mistake. Messing up doesn’t inherently make you a ‘bad’ person or completely untrustworthy moving forward, and it’s never ok for your partner to make you feel that way. On the other side of that, be wary if you’re finding that your partner makes the same ‘mistake’ over and over again. When something happens that goes against what you’d agreed on together or crosses established boundaries, you’ve been able to talk openly about ways to move forward, and yet it keeps happening- that’s a sign that your partner isn’t respecting you or the relationship. Intentionally doing what they want, regardless of the boundaries established, and constantly apologizing after the fact, shifts the balance of power to their favor since they know they are making their feelings the priority in the moment and asking for forgiveness later.   
  • Self-care is still important and necessary! In a non-monogamous relationship, engaging in more intimate relationships might leave less time to spend with friends or engaging in hobbies. It is still important to make time for yourself, and to have friends and interests outside of your relationships in order to stay healthy. It can be especially valuable to create a self-care routine for nights when your partners have dates but you do not, to help combat any feelings of jealousy or loneliness. Try to plan ahead and spend the evening with friends or snuggle up at home with a favorite movie or a beloved pet. Journaling during this down-time can be a wonderful form of self-care. Keeping a journal to track your thoughts and feelings about your intimate relationships can help you communicate your needs more clearly and will also help you to be aware of any unhealthy or abusive patterns that might be showing up.  

If you’re currently in a poly relationship and, as you read this, you’re realizing the relationship may be unhealthy or abusive, here are some things to consider:  

  • A support network is valuable. Engaging in non-monogamous relationships can sometimes create a built-in support network of intimate partners and metamours (the partner of your partner, with whom one does not share a romantic relationship, but may have a friendship). If you are concerned that one of your partners is abusive and have good relationships with other intimate partners and metamours, that may be a good source of emotional support. Consider asking the people in your support network to help you make a plan to safely leave, if you’re ready to take that step.  
  • Isolation is a common tactic of abuse. In a non-monogamous relationship, an abusive partner may try to turn the victim against metamours or prevent them from having relationships with metamours in the first place. Additionally, an abusive person may try to convince the victim to leave other existing intimate relationships or to cut off unsupportive family members. A manipulative partner may have already told everyone in their intimate circle that the victim is the abusive one, in order to cut of support. Some might believe that the poly relationship style is to blame for the abuse, but that is not the case. Abuse is never excusable in any circumstances, and it is absolutely possible to have a healthy non-monogamous relationship. 
  • There is often overlap between the poly community and the LGBTQ communityWith this overlap, we may see similar abusive tactics. An abusive partner may threaten to “out” you as non-monogamous to family members or colleagues, or they might say that if you were really polyamorous you wouldn’t feel jealous, have boundaries, feel hurt by cheating or other broken relationship agreements, etc. Someone who is abusive may also manipulate members of the larger polyamory community by generating sympathy and trust or blame the victim for the abuse in order to cut off these resources to the victim. 
  • A safety plan can be beneficial, and our advocates can help! Safety planning can look different depending on the situation and the people involved. In a poly relationship, a safety plan might mean reaching out to friends or family members outside the polyamory community, if the abusive partner has turned the community against you; or, if it feels safe to do so, reaching out to leaders in the larger community to let them know what is happening could be an option. If you don’t feel safe reaching out to people within your social circle, our hotline advocates are here to help. We’re a free, confidential, anonymous service that offers phone and online chat options, 24/7. Our advocates can assist you with creating a safety plan.  

The post Polyamory and Abuse appeared first on The National Domestic Violence Hotline.