Picking up the phone to confide in a complete stranger about abuse you’re enduring can be intimidating. And it may be even more so if you’re not sure if the person on the other end of the phone will understand where you’re coming from.
You may consider your situation unique—maybe you’re a teenager and are afraid to talk to an adult. Maybe you don’t speak English. Perhaps you’re a senior in an assisted living facility and aren’t mobile enough to get away from your abuser. Or you’re a Native American living on a reservation where tribal laws are preventing you from getting justice.
Below, we answer some of those challenges and hopefully you’ll feel assured that there is help out there no matter what your circumstances may be.
What if I don’t speak English?
Many hotlines will staff bilingual advocates or offer a translation service. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) uses a company called Language Line, which provides third-person translation in more than 240 languages—everything from Kikuyu to Zarma. An advocate with the Hotline says she’s helped survivors who speak Russian and Mandarin, and even with a translator on the line, “the call flowed smoothly.” And, confidentiality is still guaranteed even with a translator helping out.
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In addition, the Hotline also offers an online Spanish chat service every day from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Central time if you’d rather type than talk. If you’re Latin American, you might also want to check out the National Latin Network for Healthy Families and Communities.
What if I’m a senior, or am living in an assisted living facility?
While your local domestic violence hotline can still help you with support, safety planning and services no matter what your age, there are senior-specific support services out there, too. You might want to consider reaching out to Adult Protective Services (you can find your local office at that link) or use the Eldercare Locator service, a public service of the Administration on Aging, which connects seniors with support services. Eldercare Locator also offers an online chat option from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. And if you’re not sure if what you or a loved one is experiencing is abuse, consider reading, “5 Signs of Elder Abuse.”
What if I’m hard-of-hearing or deaf?
The deaf and hard-of-hearing experience abuse at a rate 1.5 times higher than the hearing population and experience unique barriers to leaving, including increased isolation, lack of understanding from police and an increased rate of dependence on their abusive partner. So if you’re deaf or hard-of-hearing, it’s important to find support.
You can call the Abused Deaf Advocacy Women’s Services via videophone at 206-812-1001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Advocates are available 24 hours a day and will respond within 15 minutes. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is also reachable at 800-787-3224 (TTY).
What if I’m an American Indian or Alaskan Native?
Earlier this year, the StrongHearts Native Hotline debuted. As a joint effort of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and The National Domestic Violence Hotline, it’s the first national crisis line dedicated to serving tribal communities across the U.S. affected by violence.
The helpline can be reached at 844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483) Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CST. Callers after hours will have the option to connect with the National Domestic Violence Hotline or to call back the next business day.
The advocates who answer this specific crisis line are Native Americans and understand the challenges that come along with tribal law and sovereignty issues within Native American tribes. They understand it’s not always as easy to find domestic violence-specific legal resources or nearby shelters, given the remote location of some reservations. But, most of all, they know Native American survivors, like all survivors, just want someone who can understand what they’re going through.
“Callers are looking for culturally specific services and that connection to someone who is Native American,” says Lori Jump, a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and the helpline’s assistant director, when asked about those who have utilized the line so far. “Because of different tribal cultures, the needs [of the callers] have all been very different.”
They can offer support as callers are trying to figure out options, such as safety planning whether the survivor is staying in the relationship or leaving it. Advocates also refer callers to culturally appropriate services in their area.
What if I’m a teen and I don’t think an adult is going to understand what I’m going through?
It can be difficult to open up to adults about teen stuff, especially your own parents. Still, it’s important to try and talk to someone if you’re going through childhood domestic violence (witnessing domestic violence between your parents at home) or dating violence (when your boyfriend or girlfriend is abusive, even if the abuse isn’t physical).
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The National Domestic Violence Hotline has a hotline dedicated just to their teen callers, called Loveisrespect. You can reach them at 866-331-9474, text “loveis” to 22522 or chat online (also available in Spanish).
There’s also the Teen Line where teens help teens work through any number of issues, dating violence among them. You can reach them at 800-TLC-TEEN from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. PST. They also have text and email options for communicating, as well as message boards.
For a list of all other teen-focused hotlines that run the gamut of topics, from bullying to teen pregnancy, see this list.
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