The Importance of a 24/7 Helpline for Domestic Abuse
“If I call, they are going to force me to leave”
“My friend hasn’t been herself lately. She has started dating someone new, and ever since she no longer calls or texts. I am getting more worried.”
“I don’t know what to do. My husband lost his job four months ago and has spent most days drinking and being increasingly more violent toward me. I don’t want to leave because we have three kids together.”
“A friend of mine is in an abusive marriage and she won’t leave. I want to help her. I want them to get safe.”
Every day at Harbor House, we receive an average of 32 crisis calls on our helpline from individuals that are experiencing abuse and need support. Our 24/7 helpline plays a crucial role in helping victims of domestic violence access important resources, such as legal resources, one on one support, support group, children support, safe housing, safety planning, and so much more. When our phone rings, we never know who is on the other end of the line, this is why having an advocate available 24/7 is so important. We are here to support our community in any way we can surrounding the issue of domestic abuse.
“Most types of calls we get are from women who don’t know what to do or what direction to turn in. They don’t want to be abused anymore and don’t even realize they are. They can’t believe how their life is going and have finally had enough to want to change but are scared, confused, worried and so many emotions happening,” stated Jan, one of Harbor House’s 24/7 helpline volunteers.
Domestic abuse happens at all times of the day. We also never know when an individual will be ready/able to reach out for support. COVID-19 and safer at home orders have also made reaching out for help increasingly difficult as victims are isolated at home with their abusers. For some, the middle of the night is the only time they are able to sneak away to safely reach out for help. Having a resource, someone who is there to support victims of domestic abuse 24/7, free of charge, and with 100% confidentiality can be the difference between life and death.
In addition to taking calls when individuals are in a crisis situation, we also receive many calls from community members on a variety of different topics. We categorize all of the calls we receive on our 24/7 helpline into the following types:
- Crisis calls: Crisis calls are calls received when a victim reaches out when they are in immediate danger, need immediate assistance seeking safety, and oftentimes are in a state of panic.
When we receive a crisis call, our first priority is ensuring that the individual is able to get themselves to safety. Questions we ask may include; Are you in a safe place to call/talk? If yes, great, if not, how can we help get you to a safer place? How safe are you at home (weapons, exits, phones)? work? Community? After safety is established we can further a safety plan, connect resources, and provide other support.
- Informational calls: Everytime we receive a call from a community member regarding ways they can support, we categorize this as an information call.
Some examples include; wanting our current needs list, looking to host a training at their business/group, wanting to drop off a donation, needing more information materials, wanting to learn more about volunteering at Harbor House, and so on.
Every time we receive a call from a community member regarding ways they can support, we categorize this as an information call.
- Arrest/Release calls: Every time a police officer makes an arrest in a domestic violence case, we are notified. We are informed that an abusive individual is taken into custody, this information is then shared by our staff with the abusers victim.
Police also call Harbor House when they conduct a Lethality Assessment Program or LAP call on the scene of a domestic case. LAP screens individuals for their risk of homicide. If an individual screens as at high risk, we are notified and connected to the individual to safety plan and provide support.
Jails also call us whenever an abuser is released from jail so that we are able to notify the victim of that abuser to ensure that safety measures are in place.
- Friends + Family calls: We often receive calls from worried friends and family
members that are concerned about a loved one who they believe is in an abusive situation.During these calls we listen, provide resources, and offer support. Being a loved one of someone experiencing abuse is a tough spot to be and we can
offer support. For more information on how to be a supportive loved one, check out our Friends and Family Brochure and our blog post, “What Can I Do?”.
- Partner Agency calls: Whenever we receive a call from another agency who is working to help serve our clients, this is a partner agency call.
- Advocacy calls: any individual calls us seeking support for the abuse they are/have experienced we categorize this as an advocacy call. This could be someone looking to meet with an advocate, calling to ask questions, asking for resources, or someone inquiring about support groups we offer. Any support an individual is seeking for their own situation, that isn’t in immediate crisis, is an advocacy call.
Our helpline and our advocates are here to support you and our community 24/7. We are here and will always be here to answer your questions, offer support, connect you to resources, and to provide safety planning.
If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy situation, please give us a call so we can talk through the ways you can get help and be safe. We are here, always, to offer you support. Call us at 920-832-1667.