The National Domestic Violence Hotline is being flooded with a record number of people asking for help.
The hotline, which operates 24 hours a day, took in more than 570,000 calls, texts and online chats last year, a jump of more than 30 percent from the year prior. The increase has put a strain on the organization.
“When we see spikes like we did last year, we're just not prepared to respond to that kind of growth,” says National Domestic Violence Hotline CEO Katie Ray-Jones.
Ray-Jones believes there are a couple reasons for the spike, including the #MeToo Movement, as well as high-profile domestic violence cases like the one involving R&B singer R. Kelly and former White House aide Rob Porter.
“We know that people see threads of themselves in that story and it prompts them to either one, recognize ‘I don't want my current situation to turn out like that, so let me reach out for help’ or they're recognizing ‘Gosh, this is really serious and I need to connect to someone right now for help.’”
Ray-Jones says the hotline is on track to set another record. So far this year, more people are reaching out for help than last year at this time. The hotline is federally funded, which is why Ray-Jones came to Washington, D.C. to talk with members of Congress.
“We did a congressional briefing to highlight the increase in volume that we've received, as well as we received our 5 millionth contact several weeks ago,” she says. “And we wanted to illustrate and commemorate that bittersweet moment for the organization and recognize there's 5 million. We still exist and need to continue to do more.”