A Day in the Life of a Domestic Violence Hotline Operator

Spotlighting the director of hotline services for the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

By Chuck Hamby on January 2, 2014

For more than a decade, Verizon Wireless has supported domestic violence awareness and prevention efforts across the nation. Through Verizon’s efforts, the consistent call to action has always been, “If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please call your local or national domestic violence hotline for help.”

Domestic violence hotlines provide support and guidance, some 24 hours a day, to survivors of domestic violence who may be in need of immediate shelter or crisis intervention. The important role of a domestic violence advocate is one that requires great skill, patience and compassion.

Jodi Russell, director of hotline services for the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV), recently shared both the gratifying opportunities and challenges of being a domestic violence hotline advocate.

Every day, Jodi must be nimble enough to respond quickly to victims on the other side of the line who are in potentially violent and dangerous situations. As a longtime hotline advocate, Jodi has extensive education in trauma-informed care, supportive communication skills and safety planning.

The rewards of being an advocate for survivors of domestic violence are immeasurable for Jodi. She remains grateful to the overwhelming number of people and organizations that continue to support survivors of domestic violence. She is constantly energized by the opportunity to participate in meaningful conversations about providing safety strategies and ending domestic violence. She draws inspiration from the ability to educate survivors, community partners, and friends and family about the current systems, the many resources in place to support survivors of domestic violence, and how communities can better aid in these efforts. 

Aside from being a nimble and skilled crisis manager, Jodi has a health and wellness self-care plan to ensure that she can handle the emotional toll of supporting another individual’s trauma. It is critical that advocates like Jodi have self-care plans in place.  

Last year, the FCADV received 26,304 calls to its hotline number. More than 60 percent of all calls were from domestic violence victims seeking guidance. In supporting these callers, Jodi noted that it is crucial for advocates to stay up to date on technology and how tools such as phones, GPS devices and computer spyware may be used to harm survivors.

In providing helpful technology resources for survivors, the National Domestic Violence Hotline now offers visitors to its website the ability to chat live with advocates online. The new program was made possible with the help of a $250,000 donation from Verizon through its HopeLine from Verizon program, which recycles and refurbishes no-longer-used cell phones and accessories to help survivors of domestic violence. Those looking to assist domestic violence victims in their communities and beyond can download the HopeLine app, which provides important resources for domestic violence victims and tools for others to spread awareness.

If you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, please call the toll-free national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Verizon Wireless customers can dial #HOPE (#4673) and be connected directly to the hotline. You can also locate your local hotline by visiting the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website.