On September 13, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which among many things, authorized the creation of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.The Texas Council on Family Violence was awarded the grant of $1 million to build and establish The Hotline and the first call was answered on February 21 1996. This month, the National Domestic Violence Hotline announced that they had answered their 6 millionth contact!
Certainly, it is easy to think these are merely numbers and dates, however we should never lose sight of the fact that each of the 6 million contacts is a man or woman or teen who has found the courage to open up to a complete stranger about their most intimate and personal issues.
For almost 4 decades, Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support has operated a crisis hotline that is answered 24 hours a day/seven days a week by trained domestic violence advocates. In May of 2021, Genesis became the first local domestic violence hotline service provider in Texas to have TEXT capabilities. Each year, Genesis receives approximately 15,000 calls and since launching the Text Line, Genesis has responded to over 10,000 texts. Almost all of these contacts share with us the terror with which they are living and the fear they felt making that call.
Many survivors are unsure of what support to expect and are hesitant in reaching out, when survivors contact Genesis, our advocates communicate – maybe for the first time – that they are not to blame, they are not alone, and there is help and hope. Recently, a survivor shared that she felt that her call was “her very last chance to survive”.
Common Hotline Questions:
“Do I have to give my real name?”
The answer is NO. Each caller/texter decides what they want to reveal. Should they share names and/or personal information, that information is completely confidential.
“Is there any cost for services?”
NO. All services at Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support are at no cost and have not strings attached.
“I don’t want to go to a shelter, should I still call?”
YES. Many survivors may not be ready to leave the relationship. Advocates can process with them to provide safety planning, non-residential resources at Genesis Women’s Outreach, legal options, counseling, advocacy and so much more.
“Do I have to get a divorce?”
Absolutely not. Advocates and Counselors at Genesis walk beside survivors in their choices. They provide information about domestic violence, its repetitive dynamic, about power and control and cyclical pattern of behavior. But each survivor makes her own choices.
“When is it the best time to call?”
The Genesis Hotline/Text Line is answered 24 hours a day, however survivors need to call from a safe environment. One of the first questions asked by Genesis advocates: “are you safe right now/are you in a safe place to talk?” Once the call/text has ended, Genesis recommends that callers delete the call from their phone or website history.
Genesis advocates recognize that there are so many uncertainties when calling the Hotline, but
these and so many more questions can be answered with one call or text to Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support.
If you or someone you know needs support, CALL or TEXT 214-924-2998. There is help and there is hope!!
Jan Langbein, CEO