Content Warning: This article discusses trauma-related topics, including sexual assault & violence, which could be upsetting and/or triggering. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7, at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. Live chat is also available on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.
In daily conversations with friends, family, and co-workers, talking about domestic violence may be unusual, uncomfortable, and even taboo. Yet despite the cultural silence around domestic violence, millions of people may witness or experience this form of violence during their lifetimes. Many helpful resources may be available for survivors of abuse, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the Love Is Respect Helpline, the National Sexual Assault Hotline, Women’sLaw.org, The Network/La Red, NCALL, and more. Working with a therapist in person or online can also provide you with the resources and guidance you deserve.
What Is Domestic Violence?
In discussions of domestic violence, you may also hear about intimate partner violence (IPV). IPV generally describes abuse or aggression that occurs in romantic relationships, but not necessarily between people who live in the same space or household.
While the term “domestic violence” is often used interchangeably with “IPV”, IPV more broadly refers to violence or abuse between two people in an intimate relationship. Moving forward, we’ll primarily refer to domestic violence, but you can use either term depending on the abuse or relationship you’re trying to describe.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in four women and one in nine men typically experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking.
Domestic abuse can also show up in queer relationships. The NCADV reports that 43.8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women may have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. The same forms of violence generally affect 26% of gay men and 37.3% of bisexual men, based on NCADV.
How To Get Help For Domestic Violence
There are several national resources for people experiencing domestic violence. If you’re looking for online domestic violence resources for professional support and strategies to cope, consider the following options:
1. The National Domestic Violence Hotline
This resource – which is often shortened to simply “The Hotline – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. When you contact The Hotline, highly trained and expert advocates may provide free and compassionate support, including crisis intervention tools and referral services. The Hotline can offer guidance in over 200 languages.
You can call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), use their live chat feature, or send a text, whichever mode feels the safest and most comfortable for you. When you reach out, the advocate will typically ensure that you’re in a safe place to talk, ask about your current coping strategies and self-care plan, and help you brainstorm next steps.
2. Love Is Respect Helpline
The Love Is Respect project, also called the National Dating Abuse Helpline, is an extension of The Hotline (see #1). Its advocates usually focus on providing 24/7 support to young people between the ages of 13 and 26 who may have questions or concerns about romantic relationships.
Similar to The Hotline, Love Is Respect normally offers information and resources via phone call, text, and live chat, all of which are free. An advocate may listen to your concerns, help you craft a safety plan, and/or connect you to local resources to provide further support.
To reach out, you may call 1-866-331-9474 or 800.787.3224 (TTY), text 'LOVEIS' to 22522, or use the chat feature on their website.
3. National Sexual Assault Hotline
This hotline is supported by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), reported to be the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S.
When you call their hotline at 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE), you’ll usually connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. They can provide free support, which may include:
- Finding a health facility in your area that is trained to care for survivors of sexual assault
- Offering a compassionate, listening ear to talk you through what happened
- Providing basic information about medical concerns and local laws related to sexual abuse
- Discussing next steps in your healing journey and referrals for long-term support in your area
All RAINN hotline affiliates are typically trained sexual assault service providers recruited from organizations or agencies across the U.S. You can trust their expertise as well as their firm adherence to RAINN standards.
WomensLaw.org is an award-winning legal organization that can provide legal information to anyone with questions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, and related topics. Despite its name, these services are normally available to people of all genders, not just women.
For U.S.-based legal support, you can contact their Email Hotline. All emails may be answered or reviewed by a licensed attorney. WomenLaw.org tends to focus on several legal subspecialties, including immigration rules, domestic violence in the military, and housing under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
5. The Network/La Red
In addition to calling The Hotline (#1), people experiencing domestic violence in queer relationships may also consider a resource designed specifically for survivors in LGBTQ+ communities. The Network/La Red is a survivor-led organization that can provide free, 24/7 emotional support for anyone experiencing domestic violence in the LGBTQ+ community.
Their trained hotline staff provide information, referrals, safety planning, and crisis intervention services. If you’re looking to connect with other survivors, The Network frequently holds support groups throughout the year. To contact their hotline, call 617-742-4911 (voice) or 800-832-1901 (Toll-Free).
Please note: If you identify with the LGBTQIA+ community and are looking for more generalized information and mental health support, you can contact the LGBT National Hotline at 888-843-4564 or the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386.
6. National Clearinghouse On Abuse In Later Life (NCALL)
Domestic violence can affect people of all ages. There are several groups eager to aid all victims, and they often recognize how domestic violence counseling can help in a variety of ways. Driven by this reality, NCALL typically offers advocacy and resources for older survivors of abuse. Their website includes a wealth of information about safety planning, crisis services, stories from older survivors, and other resources that can serve both survivors and allies.
While NCALL may not be a direct service provider and does not generally provide 24/7 crisis support, it can connect older survivors to local resources and providers. To contact NCALL staff for further direction, complete their online form.
Other Domestic Violence Resources
In addition to the organizations we’ve highlighted, both the NCADV and NCALL offer lists of national resources for domestic violence and related concerns, organized by the diverse demographic needs of survivors.
These organizations often do incredible work to help survivors feel safe, empowered, and freed from the cycle of domestic violence. Some notable organizations can include:
- The Women Of Color Network, Inc., which manages several projects and resources to eliminate violence against all women, with an emphasis on women of color as leaders and advocates
- The Deaf Hotline, which offers 24-hour support to survivors in the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, Deaf-Disabled, and Hard-of-Hearing communities
- The StrongHearts Native Helpline, a domestic violence and dating violence helpline for American Indians and Alaska Natives, providing culturally appropriate support and advocacy daily from 7 AM to 10 PM CT
Therapy For Domestic Violence Survivors
If you’ve experienced domestic violence and are beginning your healing journey, a therapist can offer emotional support as you connect with resources and providers in your area.
This may be an especially tumultuous period in your life, and the thought of commuting to an in-person therapy session could be an additional source of stress. To make it easier and more affordable to seek therapy, many mental health professionals now offer their services online using digital platforms. These therapists are usually thoroughly vetted and many have years of experience helping clients recover from abusive relationships.
Research shows that online therapy can be just as effective as face-to-face options. Many studies have specifically demonstrated the value of online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help reframe negative thoughts associated with certain events to promote healthier behaviors.
Online CBT can be used to treat many mental health conditions, including PTSD, which affects some survivors of domestic violence. In a 2016 study, researchers demonstrated the value of an online, therapist-guided program for PTSD related to sexual violence: after completing the 14-week program, they typically found medium to large improvements in participants’ symptoms of anxiety and depression.
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