On February 21, 1996, The National Domestic Violence Hotline took its first call and has continued on for 20 years helping people affected by domestic violence. Since that first call, The Hotline has answered over 3.5 million calls, chats, and text messages from victims of abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a non-profit organization as a part of the Violence Against Women Act created to provide resources for those in need of help. From its early days, it has since evolved into a nationwide network that is constantly advancing its technological services to reach out to as many people as possible. The goal of The National Domestic Violence Hotline is to end domestic violence, but to do this, domestic violence must be prevented and people need to be taught the signs of an unhealthy relationship and what a healthy relationship should be.
Celebrating in The Glasshouses in Chelsea, The Hotline sought to honor 20 years of empowering survivors of domestic abuse. To complement attendees, music was played by DJ Wong with an unlimited flow of cocktails and delicious hors d'oeuvres. Much of The Hotline’s funding comes from an annual grant from the U.S. Health and Human Service’s Family Violence Prevention Services Office. However, to further accomplish The Hotline’s vision of ending domestic violence, a silent auction was held at this event that included tickets to the Super Bowl in 2017, the US Open in 2017, Kendra Scott jewelry, and much more. As spectacular as the prizes, food, and cocktails were, what really made the event a success was the attendees’ willingness to support The Hotline’s cause: to join together to celebrate its success as well as understand the impact of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is about power and control. The abuser makes their partner feel like it is their fault. Abuse is not only physical, but can be emotional and financial as well. People are not always aware if their relationship is an abusive one and The Hotline provides information on how to make that distinction. The Hotline is not only for domestic violence, but also for questions or concerns surrounding your relationship or the relationship of someone you know. On top of providing resources to determine if a relationship is abusive or not, The Hotline provides information on what makes a healthy one. A relationship may not always be abusive, but it does not always mean it is a healthy relationship, so it is highly encouraged to reach out to The Hotline and seek help.
The Hotline staff is highly trained, having received over 60 hours of training while covering over 170 different languages and 4,200 service providers. Over 20,000 phone calls are made to reach domestic violence hotlines. Not all calls to The Hotline make it through because of limited resources. When asked what victims of domestic abuse should do if they are unable to get their call through to The Hotline, Chief Communications Officer Cameka Crawford would like them to know, “it’s not your fault, you deserve respect, you’re not alone, and we’re here for you 24/7.”
Even though The Hotline offices are located in Texas, 30% of The Hotline calls come from New York and with InvitedNYC focusing on the NYC population, we are glad to help spread awareness. If you or someone you know are a victim of domestic violence, do not hesitate to reach out to The Hotline because it is a completely free, and confidential service. Domestic violence can affect anyone; it is not gender neutral. 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence as well as 1 in 7 men. It is important to be patient with the ones experiencing it because they know what is best for their situation. Often times, people may not be ready to pick up the phone and reach out for professional help, but if someone reaches out to you, Cameka Crawford recommends “the first thing you can say to someone if that person reaches out to you for support first is ‘I believe you.’” As a closing note, be vigilant, be compassionate, and look out for one another in the fight to end domestic violence.
Photos courtesy of The Hotline and special thanks to Maribel and Cameka.