For many people who might be in abusive relationships, taking the step to call a domestic violence hotline number might save their lives. But they don’t need to be at a breaking point or experiencing a life-threatening crisis to make the call. (In fact, if they are in extreme danger, they should call 911 before calling the hotline.) However, a call to the hotline can truly be life-changing.
First of all, the hotline operator can help you understand abuse specific to your relationship. Talking to someone outside of your situation is a great way to recognize what you can do to change your circumstances. Many people who call the hotline are not ready to leave their relationship, but they know something has to change in order for them to have a safer, healthier life.
Abuse can come in all forms and sometimes it is hard to see it when it’s so close to you. Oftentimes, abuse isn’t just physical, although that might be the easiest to recognize. Many abusers control their partners emotionally, financially, psychologically and sexually. Abusers try to take away their partner’s power and leave them vulnerable to more abuse. In fact, the hotline operator can connect you with a counselor, legal advocate or support group that can help you better understand what you need to build a healthier relationship – either in the near-term or in a relationship down the road.
If you determine you are in an unhealthy relationship but aren’t ready to leave your partner, a counselor is the best resource to discuss ways you can change or set boundaries with your partner. If you are fearful of your partner and eventually want to leave, but aren’t yet ready, the hotline operator can help you develop a safety plan for you and your children. This might be a simple way to stay safe in the short-term, but could be a longer-term plan to leave safely when the time is right.
Many survivors don’t have the financial means to leave an abuser, but may not need emergency shelter. In this case, our hotline operator can connect them to a case worker who can help find transitional housing, a job and other means of support for our clients.
Calling the hotline can be a great resource for friends or family members to learn how they can help someone close to them who is in an unhealthy relationship. They might want to help, but don’t know where to turn and aren’t trained to support someone in an abusive relationship. The hotline operator is very knowledgeable and can point them in the right direction and connect them to resources that can change the course of their life.
It is rare, but sometimes an abuser calls the hotline asking for help. In that case, connecting them to a counselor would be the best option. Generally abusers have been abused themselves and need a professional to help them understand root causes for their abuse and control that they impose on another person.
One of the best outcomes for a survivor calling the hotline is to recognize that they are not alone and that someone is there to help. Just knowing that is enough to give them the strength and hope to move forward and make a positive change for themselves and their children.