Every contact to The Hotline is unique. Some callers identify as survivors of abuse, some as abusive partners and some as concerned family members and friends seeking help for someone else. While every contact is specific to the individual, here are some phrases and questions that advocates use consistently to best help each caller or chatter.
“Thanks for reaching out.”
You might feel anxious about contacting The Hotline, especially if you haven’t reached out for help before. We are completely confidential and anonymous, and our advocates have extensive training in issues related to domestic violence. Reaching out for help is the first step toward improving your situation, whatever that may be, and we are glad to be of service when someone takes this important step.
“Are you in a safe place to chat?”
It’s critical for your safety that you reach out when your partner is not around, whenever that is possible. If your partner does come home or walk in while you’re talking with an advocate, immediately disconnect the call. Because abusive relationships are based on power and control, an abusive partner is likely to react in anger as you take steps to regain control. Another way to stay safe is to remember to delete our number from your phone and clear your internet browser history after visiting our website.
“Why don’t you tell me a little bit about your situation?”
Before an advocate can begin helping you, they need to know your specific situation. This gives you an opportunity to bring up any concerns you’ve had about your relationship. Sometimes, giving a relationship timeline or explaining a recent altercation with your partner can give the advocate a better idea about what you’ve experienced.
“What have you considered doing at this point?”
You are the expert of your own situation. Callers reach out at all different times in their relationships, so advocates need to know what steps you’re ready to take before they can help you find resources. While an advocate won’t give explicit advice on what you should do next, you can talk about some options to make the best decision for yourself.
“How are you taking care of yourself?”
Self-care is important at any stage of a relationship. If you are in an abusive relationship, it is easy to forget about caring for yourself. Taking care of yourself may be as simple as eating a good breakfast to prepare for the day or getting enough sleep at night. Advocates often suggest writing in a journal, reading a good book or taking a bubble bath to ease your mind.
“Let’s brainstorm together.”
Whether you are deciding how to communicate better with your partner, planning on leaving the relationship or finding things that you can do to feel safe, there is always more than one right answer and an advocate can help you sort through the options to determine the best one for you.
“Is there anything else I can help you with?”
Maybe over the course of your conversation with an advocate you thought of another question, or maybe you feel more comfortable asking something you were scared to ask before. Advocates are always available to answer your questions about healthy relationships and how to handle an unhealthy or abusive relationship, so don’t hesitate to ask.
I've Been Abusive to My Partner. Can The Hotline Help Me?
Absolutely. We frequently speak with people who identify as abusive, or who are concerned about behaviors that may be unhealthy. We treat everyone who contacts us with dignity and respect, and we support accountability. Every call from someone who is becoming more aware of their unhealthy behavior is an opportunity to plant a seed for change. No matter what the situation, our Hotline advocates are supportive and remain empathetic.
What will an advocate recommend?
Depending on what you’re calling about, our advocates will talk to you about different courses of action. If throughout the call you and the advocate are beginning to identify unhealthy behaviors in your relationship, they’ll discuss these red flags with you and then brainstorm healthy alternatives for the behavior.
They’ll talk about strategies for calming down and deescalating if you feel yourself getting angry, and discuss how your actions can negatively affect you and those around you.
Callers may want to know about Battering Intervention and Prevention Programs — but not all callers asking about BIPPS are the same. While some are looking for a referral because the court has ordered them to, others are seeking out this information on their own accord.
Can I really call without being judged?
Yes. If you’re looking for someone to lend a confidential, impartial ear, our advocates at The Hotline are a great option. They’ll listen, withhold judgment and help you begin to address what’s going on in your relationship.
We have advocates at our hotline to take your call. You can also contact Maryland help at 211. You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline available 24/7/365 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). We also offer live chat services.