Adapted from the National Domestic Violence Hotline
Every contact is unique. Some callers and people that walk through our doors identify as survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual assault, whether currently and/or in the past, and some as concerned family members, friends, or professionals seeking help for someone else. While every contact is specific to the individual, here are some phrases and questions that advocates use consistently to best help each caller or walk-in:
“Thank you for reaching out." "I'm so glad you called/came here today.” You might feel anxious about contacting Hope House, especially if you haven’t reached out for help before. We are completely confidential and anonymous, and our advocates have extensive training in issues related to domestic violence and sexual assault. Reaching out for help is the first step toward improving your situation, whatever that may be, and we are glad to be of service when someone takes this important step.
“Are you in a safe place to chat? If we get disconnected, is it safe for me to call you back?” It’s critical for your safety that you reach out when the person hurting or controlling you is not around, whenever that is possible. If they come home or walk in while you’re talking with an advocate, immediately disconnect the call. Another way to stay safe is to remember to delete our number from your phone and clear your internet browser history after visiting our website.
“Can you tell me a little bit about your situation?” Before an advocate can begin helping you, they need to know your specific situation. This gives you an opportunity to bring up any concerns you’ve had about how you're being treated or how you're feeling about past experiences. Sometimes, giving a timeline or explaining a recent incident can give the advocate a better idea about what you’ve experienced.
"I'm so sorry you're going/went through this." "What they did to you is not your fault." "I believe you." "What you're feeling is totally normal." Advocates are here to listen, believe, and support survivors and those that care about them.
“What have you considered doing at this point?” "What do you think would happen if..." "What would it be like if...?" You are the expert of your own situation. Callers reach out at all different times in their experiences, so advocates need to know what steps you’re ready to take before they can help you find resources. While an advocate won’t give explicit advice on what you should do next, you can talk about some options to make the best decision for yourself.
“Let’s talk through your options.” "What has worked for you in the past?" "How are you feeling about...?" Whether you are deciding how to communicate better with someone, planning on leaving a relationship, or finding things that you can do to feel safe, there is always more than one right answer and an advocate can help you sort through the options to determine the best one for you.
“What things do you do to try to cope with what you're going through?” Self-care is important at any stage of a relationship. If you are in an abusive relationship and/or have been sexually assaulted, it is easy to forget about caring for yourself or you may try to cope in unhealthy ways. We're here to help you find out what works best for you and to encourage healthy coping strategies. Taking care of yourself may be as simple as eating a good breakfast to prepare for the day or getting enough sleep at night. Advocates often suggest writing in a journal, reading a good book, or taking a bubble bath to ease your mind.
“Is there anything else I can help you with?" "You're welcome to call back at any time.” Maybe over the course of your conversation with an advocate you thought of another question, or maybe you feel more comfortable asking something you were scared to ask before. Advocates are always available to answer your questions so don’t hesitate to ask now or to contact us again in the future.