AUSTIN, Texas - The National Domestic Violence Hotline, located in Austin, said contacts increased by 36 percent from 2017 to 2018, but there are still hundreds of thousands of calls that went unanswered because of a lack of resources.
“Everybody deserves to have that hope,” said Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
The hotline has been sharing hope with the country for almost 25 years.
“Last year was their highest volume in the history of the organization and it's also the highest number of contacts we've served,” Ray-Jones said.
That momentum really started five years ago after TMZ shared a video showing NFL football player Ray Rice knocking out his fiancée in an Atlantic City elevator.
“Many survivors were reaching out for the first time because they were seeing threads of themselves in that story,” said Ray-Jones.
In the days following that incident, the hotline saw an 84 percent spike in calls.
“We thought we'd level out and we would return to pre-incident volume and we've not,” Ray-Jones said, citing the Me Too movement and the Time’s Up campaign as possible reasons for that.
The NFL donated millions to the hotline to help the organization hire 80 new advocates to support more survivors. Still, hotline staff said they could use more.
“We still have a large sum of people being unserved just due to not having enough advocates,” said Ray-Jones.
In 2018, the hotline answered more than 370,000 calls, texts, and chats, but another 200,000 went unanswered. Each one of them, a person potentially in crisis with nowhere else to turn.
“We get contacts who are in the midst of a violent situation at that moment and, maybe calling 9-1-1 doesn't feel safe to them, so, they reach out to us,” Ray-Jones said.
Ray-Jones knows there are still millions more who need support. She hopes her staff can be there when they're ready to reach out.
“With one in four women and one in seven men being impacted by domestic violence, it's impossible to be walking about the world and not be encountering someone who's probably suffering in silence,” said Ray-Jones.
In addition to connecting survivors to resources, they also provide education for survivors' family and friends. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To reach them, call 1-800-799-SAFE or text “loveis” to 22522 or visit loveisrespect.org or TheHotline.org.