Did you know that 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 7 men, have experienced severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner? Oftentimes, one of the first ways victims reach out for help is by calling a victim helpline.
“’At any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end,’ is a quote from Christine Mason Miller. The helpline is the start of the changing of the story. This is often the first number the victim calls,” said WIN Direct Service Manager, Eric Williams.
WIN has been providing helpline services to our community since 1976 when a groups of concerned citizens banded together to form a rape crisis hotline for the area. Since then, our agency and services have grown to meet the needs of our community, but our 24/7 helpline remains one of the cornerstone services of our agency. Last year, WIN employees and volunteers answered 1,583 hotline calls from victims in their time of crisis. All calls that come in are answered by a caring advocate or volunteer, and they are always confidential.
We oftentimes find ourselves assisting victims on the helpline with things to help keep them safe, like safety planning. A safety plan is made to reduce risk when there is a potential threat of harm. Safety plans can change, and every safety plan is different based on the victim’s individual circumstances. We also assist victims on the helpline by giving them information on our services, such as empowerment counseling and legal assistance. We give them all the needed information to take the next steps on their journey from victim to survivor. In dire situations, when a victim needs to escape imminent danger quickly, they will call our helpline and get a referral for our emergency shelter.
Another way our helpline is utilized is by law enforcement and hospitals. An officer can call us at any time if they are responding to a situation and the victim needs assistance. Likewise, hospital staff can reach out to us if a domestic or sexual assault victim is present in the hospital. We can then assess the situation and talk to them on the phone or go into the hospital and meet with them directly.
The big takeaway is that our helpline is one of our most important services and tools for victims in need. We can assist them in numerous ways and help set them off on their path of living abuse free.
We are always looking for new caring helpline volunteers with a passion for helping those that need it most. If you, or someone you know, would be an ideal fit for volunteering in this capacity, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a new volunteer training session beginning on Sept. 20, 2022.