Resources To Help Cope With Domestic Violence
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 will see and witness this form of violence during their lifetimes. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in four women and one in nine men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking.
Domestic abuse also shows up in queer relationships. The NCADV reports that 43.8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. The same forms of violence will affect 26% of gay men and 37.3% of bisexual men, based on NCADV.
Researchers and advocates are constantly gathering information to document the experiences of domestic violence survivors. This also informs the development of invaluable resources at the national, regional, and local levels, which we’ll review in-depth in this article.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is abuse or violence that occurs between any two people living together. The abusive partner engages in a pattern of behaviors that give them control or power over the other partner. These behaviors can include physical and sexual assault, control over finances, verbal threats, coercion, manipulation of children or custody, and more.
In discussions of domestic violence, you may also hear about intimate partner violence (IPV). IPV describes abuse or aggression that occurs in romantic relationships, but not necessarily between people who live in the same space or household.
While 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.
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 will provide free and compassionate support, including crisis intervention tools and referral services. The Hotline offers guidance in over 200 languages.
You can 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 take care to 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 focus on providing 24/7 support to young people between the ages of 13 and 26 who have questions or concerns about romantic relationships.
Similar to The Hotline, Love Is Respect offers information and resources via phone call, text, and live chat, all of which is free. An advocate will listen to your concerns, help you craft a safety plan, and/or connect you to local resources to provide further support.
To reach out, call 1-866-331-9474 or 800.787.3224 (TTY) or 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), the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S.
When you call their hotline at 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE), you’ll connect with a trained staff from a sexual assault service provider in your area. They’ll 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 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 provides legal information to anyone with questions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, and related topics. Despite its name, these services are available to people of all genders, not just women.
For U.S.-based legal support, you can contact their Email Hotline: all emails are answered or reviewed by a licensed attorney. WomenLaw.org focuses 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 provides 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 also 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 recognize how domestic violence counseling can help in a variety of ways. Driven by this reality, NCALL 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 is not a direct service provider and does not 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.
All of these organizations do incredible work to help survivors feel safe, empowered, and freed from the cycle of domestic violence. Some notable organizations 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 just 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 like BetterHelp. These therapists are board-certified and 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 found medium to large-sized improvements in participants’ symptoms of anxiety and depression.
With an online therapist and a national network of resources, you can develop the tools and knowledge you need to begin the next stage of your life.
This is not an easy nor straightforward journey, and advocates will never minimize the challenges of surviving domestic violence. Instead, they will validate your concerns, respect your goals and wishes, and do everything they can to prioritize your safety, mental health, and well-being.