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Calls To The National Domestic Abuse Hotline Spiked In 2018

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter

The National Domestic Violence Hotline experienced its busiest year to date, receiving over 500,000 communications in 2018.

National Domestic Violence Hotline leadership presented the data in Washington, D.C., Wednesday. Their discussion revealed that the 24-hour hotline received 573,670 calls, texts and online messages throughout 2018 — a 36% increase since 2017, NBC News reported.

The confidential and anonymous hotline was established in 1996 and provides year-round assistance to both survivors and victims of domestic violence. “Get help without saying a word,” its website says.

CEO Katie Ray-Jones says this is not necessarily because of a spike in domestic abuse. Jones said the increase in calls is largely due to the #MeToo movement and allegations of domestic abuse against figures such as singer R. Kelly and former White House staff secretary Rob Porter.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s more domestic violence happening,” Ray-Jones told NBC News. “I think what is happening is, there’s a lot of discourse around the complexities around domestic violence now.” (RELATED: Sexual Violence Prevention Group Honors Christine Blasey Ford As Person of the Year)

Eighty-eight percent of persons who reached out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline said they experienced emotional and verbal abuse at the time of their communications in 2018. Sixty percent of the responders were victims of physical abuse, 24% were victims of financial abuse, 15% were victims of digital abuse and 11% were victims of sexual abuse.

Financial abuse entails the stealing or limiting of funds by a partner while digital abuse can involve “GPS stalking, relentless texting and unauthorized home surveillance,” according to NBC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men experience some type of intimate partner violence.

“Everyone is in different stages,” said Joanna Gonzalez-Mondragon, a hotline advocate who has answered the phones since 2016. “Some have called previously before, and now are in a different phase of their situation. For example, they left the relationship and now are dealing with co-parenting with an abusive partner and the partner is stalking or obsessively calling them.”

“Or we will have people call for the first time that don’t know a lot about our agency and are a little bit intimidated or afraid to disclose information,” Gonzalez-Mondragon, 24, added according to NBC.

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