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Calling the Domestic Violence Hotline

Old 03-06-2014, 10:01 AM
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Calling the Domestic Violence Hotline

I just wanted to share my experience with calling the DV hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

I knew I was in an abusive relationship, but he hasn't hit me recently, it was these crazy fights that would never end. I tried to walk away as much as possible, he would follow me. I had developed a habit of going out to the garage for really long periods of time, to have a cigarette. Actually that was just an excuse that I used to get away from him. He usually didn't follow me into the garage because he didn't smoke.

This one night, I just had enough of everything. I couldn't think, couldn't function. I just sat down in the garage, I couldn't even move anymore. I felt so lost. After about an hour, I got up, went to look at all the windows in the house, the lights were all shut off, he finally went to sleep. I was still too afraid to go back into the house, was thinking of sleeping in the car again with the doors locked, just in case.

Then I remembered, I had the DV hotline number on me. But how could I call them, he didn't hit me, I'm not in immediate danger, I thought they wouldn't even listen to me. I was just so numb, I didn't care, I didn't know what I was going to say, but I had to talk to a normal rational person.

I went back and forth with this in my head for awhile, was really afraid that they would tell me they were too busy for me since it was not an emergency, but I called anyway.

I had no idea of what to say. I told them that. Told them that I just needed to talk, that I was sitting in the garage at 1:00am in the morning and I was afraid to go back into the house because he might wake up and yell and rage at me some more, that I didn't think he would hit me that night, and apologized to them for bothering them, but I had no one else to turn to at that point.

The person I spoke to was a young man, about 25 - 30 yrs old. He told me that I did the right thing by calling that number, that is what they are there for. I relaxed a little at this point. This person was not telling me what an idiot I am for calling that number when I did not feel I was in danger. I still didn't want to talk about the numerous times that I was hit, because I thought the police would come knocking at my door within 10 minutes or so. This didn't happen. What happened was, this person listened to me, he didn't tell me what I should do, he didn't call me crazy, instead he validated me, told me how strong I was, and how hard it is to go through what I was going through. After listening to the compassion in his voice, it was like the flood gates opened. I told him about the verbal abuse, the emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse. He told me that none of this was my fault, he asked me if he could give me some suggestions. I was calm by this time, and told him that I would appreciate that.

He gave me the phone # for the local DV shelter, he told me that they have support groups that I could go to, and that if I ever needed to go to the shelter, they would help me. That you do not need to be hit to go to one. He told me that I can call the main DV # at any time. He told me that I was very brave to call and to talk about the abuse, that the worst thing you can do is to isolate yourself and lose support. I realized that was what I was doing. I did talk a little bit about this before to friends, but they didn't understand. I was asking them if the things I was going through was normal, and they just told me no, they're not normal. I became embarrassed and went back to pretending everything was so great in my relationship, I had everyone fooled. Most people I knew envied my marriage, they didn't know what went on behind closed doors.

About a week later there was another fight. I went back to the garage, somewhat hid there till I knew he was asleep. Took out the phone number for the local DV shelter. I called them. They were as nice, compassionate, supportive and validating as the first young man I talked to. They talked to me about the programs that they have, how they could help with lawyers if I needed one, talked to me about the shelter, and how it ran. I was feeling more and more at ease.

The next week, another fight. He had just gone up to bed, actually had just gotten into bed, I went to ask him a question. He jumped up from the bed, grabbed me by the neck and threw me to the floor, then he just went to sleep. I left the room, went to the garage again, and made the call to the local DV shelter. I told them that I needed to get out. They asked me if I needed assistance, that they would call 911 to help me get out. I told them that he was sleeping now, I was safe, and that I would be able to leave on my own. They directed me to drive to a shopping mall, and that when I got there to call them back for further instructions. (DV shelters are at undisclosed places). I got to the shopping mall and called them, they asked me if I was followed, I told them no. They gave me the rest of the directions to get to the shelter.

When I finally arrived at the shelter, they asked me for my name before they buzzed me in. When I got into the shelter, I couldn't hold it in anymore, I just cried. I felt safe. They listened to me, they validated me, they told me that it wasn't my fault. After I calmed down, they showed me my room. It had a bunk bed, a single bed, and a crib in it. There was no one else there, so I had the room to myself. They showed me the room that they had with clothing of all sizes, just in case I didn't have any. Showed me the kitchen area. The woman there that did not work were expected to rotate with the cooking, and each day you were to sign in if you were going to be there for dinner. The shelter had a laundry room, a meeting room, and a lounge area. I was free to come and go as I pleased, they did have a curfew if you were staying there, they wanted you to be back by 11pm, and drinking was not allowed there. That was about the only rules that they had.

The only thing that I beat myself up over now, is that I didn't stay there, I left the next day. I went back, I believed his quacking, he wasn't going to drink anymore, and he was going to go to therapy, told me that he didn't want to turn out like his father. (hook, line and sinker, I fell for it)

When I was leaving the shelter, they did not try to stop me, they just told me that anytime I needed help, they were there for me. Just call them.

I did call them several times after that, and they were just always there for me.

I'm writing this about my experience, just in case someone might be afraid of what calling the DV hotline # means. It only means that help is available, but you are still in charge of your own decisions, there is no coercion, there is no pressure.

If anyone is on the fence about calling the DV hotline, please just call, it can save your life.

Does anyone else have experiences with DV hotline and shelters that you would like to share?
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:12 AM
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Thank you for this post, Amy!!! I recognize the fear you describe, about calling and bothering them, about not being heard, about not being believed, about not thinking your situation was serious enough.

I never dared call until I had left. Then, I called for advocate support. By the time they got back to me (they had volunteer attorneys and victim advocates), I had already decided to bite the bullet and pay a lawyer. But they were, like in your case, very supportive.

I also called their hotline when I first suspected AXH may be sexually abusing one of our children. I had exactly the same experience you described -- I wasn't ridiculed for my fears (as I had feared), on the contrary, they listened and were supportive and then recommended steps I could take from there.
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Old 03-06-2014, 04:12 PM
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Thank you, what a powerful post. It may help someone make that call who would not have. This could save a life.

Great to see your baby steps forward, the progression in this post, too.

Sending encouragement,

CLMI
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Old 03-06-2014, 11:43 PM
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I just remembered. I had another story about a DV phone call. It wasn't me though. I was going to group therapy. Most of the people in the group had bi-polar. I was there for depression. Well anyway, this one woman starts talking, she is telling the group that her boyfriend will not let her buy her meds. Said it was too expensive. She had health coverage, it was costing her $15.00 a month. I told her that it was abusive. That he was withholding her meds from her for whatever reason he had, but this was abusive. I gave her the card I had from the DV shelter.

She wasn't at the group therapy the next week. I wondered what happened to her. She showed up the next week. Her arms were black and blue, her neck was black and blue, she had marks all over her. She came over to me, she thanked me for the card that I gave her. She said she would never have thought that was abuse. She only wanted to get her meds filled for her bi-polar. Her boyfriend attacked her, she had the card I gave her and she called them. They got her out of there, her boyfriend was arrested, she was staying at the shelter, and had a restraining order against him.

She told me that she could have died that night, that she thought her actions were because of her bi-polar, but she remembered when I said in group that it was abuse, she was able to get away, get to the bathroom, lock the door, and she called the local DV shelter.
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Old 03-07-2014, 04:06 AM
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Thank you, Amy, for sharing your experience....!
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Old 03-07-2014, 04:12 AM
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Yes, thanks, Amy xxxx
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Old 03-07-2014, 04:29 AM
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Some of THE most powerful voices are those who have been subjected to domestic abuse and come out of isolation and gained their "voice" to speak about it.

Because it is specifically those voices that the ones who need to hear the message can "hear" best.

Those folks are often in the shadows, silent, but listening.

So if this thread doesn't get a lot of responses, remember that, you don't know who or how many may read the message herein, from the shadows.

This thread is a powerful share, Amy, thank you again.

CLMI
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Old 03-07-2014, 04:37 AM
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I think this is sticky- worthy.
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Old 03-07-2014, 05:00 AM
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I second the sticky.
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Old 03-07-2014, 05:10 AM
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Yes, we already have plans for that underway. We intend to add it to the "About Abuse" stickie
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Old 03-07-2014, 05:22 AM
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This is great! My dad was an abusive alcoholic. When I was 12, my mom had enough and called a hotline and we drove from Philly to Savannah (very long story) and stayed in a DV shelter there. For us it was great, there were other kids and there were support groups for kids. Kids who lived there previously would come back to the weekly meetings.
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Old 03-07-2014, 07:55 AM
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Thanks Amy. I think this thread will help so many people hesitant to make that call. DV is not going to suddenly start making the decisions for an abused woman, take over her life, or stop her from returning the next day or the next hour to the relationship.
It is help when someone wants it, without strings attached.
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Old 03-07-2014, 08:02 AM
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Thank you! Thank you!

I posted something last night in the F&F of substance abusers forum called "The Unthinkable". I can't link it here because I'm just not that talented. But I'm interested in any experience or insight any of you might have.
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Old 03-11-2014, 08:57 PM
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Done stickied in the "About Abuse" section.

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...out-abuse.html

Sorry it took so long.

Mike
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Old 08-26-2017, 03:32 PM
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I will be bumping some older stickie posts so we don't lose them from our search feature. It might be a little cluttered until you post on the normal threads.
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