The purpose of a domestic abuse hotline is to provide information to those who are in an abusive relationship. Phone counselors at these crisis hotlines can help with safety planning and provide referrals to local agencies that may be able to assist with food, shelter, or other needs if the caller wishes to leave the relationship. This is especially important for victims of domestic violence who have small children still living at home.
With so much information freely available online, it's tempting to question why domestic abuse hotlines are still needed. Since many domestic violence victims have their computer use monitored or live in homes without Internet access, a hotline provides a safe and secure way to get information. Having a sympathetic person available to listen to their troubles is also helpful for domestic violence victims, since their abusers frequently make them feel like the violence is their fault.
Domestic abuse hotlines rely heavily on the support of volunteers to be able to answer calls whenever people are in need. Generally, volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and willing to submit to a complete background check. Mandatory training sessions are held to help volunteers understand what support is available for victims of domestic violence and spousal abuse. In many cases, volunteers are college students preparing for careers in social work or other human services fields.
Calls to a domestic abuse hotline are kept confidential. You will not be required to give your name or address in order to receive assistance. Law enforcement officers will not be contacted in regards to your call. However, the telephone counselor will encourage you to make a plan to leave the relationship if she believes you are in serious danger.
Although domestic abuse hotlines are often thought of as a resource just for battered women, they can also provide advice to those who believe a loved one is involved in an abusive relationship. In many cases, people recognize the signs of domestic violence, but aren't sure what to do in the situation. A counselor at a domestic abuse hotline can help these people develop a plan of action that won't put the victim at additional risk.
In the United States, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) can be reached by calling 1-800-799-SAFE. This is the primary domestic abuse hotline for the US and is staffed 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The service supports 170 different languages, with a TTY line available for callers who are deaf, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing. Some states and larger metropolitan areas also have numbers that you can call for assistance, although hours for these resources may be more limited.