Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeU.SA Day at the National Domestic Violence Hotline

A Day at the National Domestic Violence Hotline


In 1994, Congress approved the creation of a national hotline dedicated to domestic violence as part of the Violence Against Women Act, a landmark law intended to protect victims of domestic crimes and reduce the stigma associated with domestic abuse.

Thirty years later, the National Domestic Violence Hotline receives as many as 3,000 calls and messages a day. But understaffed and underfunded, the hotline has resources to answer only about half of its calls and messages.

My colleague Emily Cochrane recently published an incredible article on those who work at the hotline, including snippets of conversations between callers and staff members. She limits details about the callers to ensure their anonymity, but the excerpts paint a vivid picture of what compels people to seek help.

“They call from work, to avoid being overheard, or from home before someone returns. They reach out because they have decided to leave or need to ask a stranger if they should,” Emily writes.

“To listen to the National Domestic Violence Hotline,” she continues, “is to witness how a confluence of stressors — high prices, a lack of affordable housing, easy access to firearms and drugs, the ubiquity of technology — can leave a person vulnerable to another’s cruelty and manipulation.”

The callers are typically women, from all over the country. As might be expected given the state’s size, most callers are from California, and Los Angeles and San Diego were in the Top 10 cities last year, according to hotline data.

The rise in calls to the hotline generally reflects an increased understanding of abuse and a willingness to confront it, as more people talk publicly about domestic violence and lawmakers enact bills to strengthen support for survivors.

Calls often increase with certain public events, such as natural disasters or celebrities identifying as domestic abuse survivors, and hotline staff members told Emily that there had been recent spikes connected to major court rulings.

For example, calls mentioning firearms rose 40 percent after an appeals court in New Orleans struck down a federal law last year blocking people subject to a domestic violence protection order from owning a gun.

In his initial budget proposal for the upcoming year, Governor Newsom had proposed cutting a program that lets people check out state park passes at libraries. Since the program’s inception, the Los Angeles County library system has lent out almost 10,000 passes.

Fortunately for nature lovers, the program has been saved in the latest round of negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders, The LAist reports. Officials have pledged over $6 million to fund an additional year for the program.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Halina Bennet and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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