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At the Helm of the Hotlines: How Kia Leads Services for Survivors of Crime and Abuse

Kia Myrie-Edwards Hotlines Director

June 13, 2018

Safe Horizon operates three 24-hour hotlines that are available seven days a week, 365 days a year. The Hotlines are staffed with advocates who offer personalized, non-judgmental support, to survivors of crime and abuse. Of the 6,000 – 9,000 calls all three hotlines receive in a month, about 85-90% are from domestic violence survivors. Kia Myrie-Edwards, Director of the Hotlines, explains how the Domestic Violence Hotline helps survivors move from crisis to confidence.

What is Your Role as Hotlines Director?

As Hotlines Director I work to improve our response to survivors. This involves working closely with advocates and team leaders to provide live coaching and skill development. We want to make sure both survivors and Hotline Advocates feel supported.

How Many Advocates are at the Hotline Per Shift?

We typically staff around 22 advocates during the day and around four people overnight, where call volume is lower.

Hotline advocates are here to take your call.

Can you Describe Training or Onboarding Process for Hotline Advocates?

Advocates go through extensive training and it typically takes around six months to adapt to the role. They are trained to offer non-judgmental, compassionate support for survivors and spend a significant amount of time learning about all the services we offer. During the first month of training, we conduct mock phone calls to offer an example of the types of calls they will take. When an advocate starts taking live calls, a supervisor will shadow them and provide live assistance via instant messenger. Supervisors also debrief with advocates after every call, offering support as these calls can bring up a lot of emotion.

What Services do Domestic Violence Survivors Usually Look for?

Domestic Violence Hotline callers are looking for a variety of different resources. Some want to talk about their situation or receive some form of phone counseling. Other survivors are looking to move to a domestic violence shelter. We try to connect these callers to domestic violence shelters in New York City, including Safe Horizon’s eight domestic violence shelters. We also get calls from survivors who have questions about legal issues such as court processes, restraining orders, and even child custody situations. Whatever the call is about, we can refer them to an internal Safe Horizon resource, or one of our partners.

What Times During the Day or Year do Domestic Violence Hotline Calls Increase?

Survivors call when they feel safe, so we make sure to provide around-the-clock services. We noticed that survivors call more during the daytime because the abusers might have gone to work or allowed them to leave home to run errands. Survivors who call us at night want to talk about their situation, learn about their options, and possibly create a safety plan.

We also noticed an increase in calls toward the end of June and July possibly because that’s when school ends. Many survivors with children may see this as a time when they can figure out a way to leave without interrupting their child’s school schedule. Calls also spike right around New Year’s because survivors may be making New Year’s Resolutions to leave.

What is One Thing Survivors Should Know about Hotline?

You should know that you are not alone, our advocates are there 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We will support you with whatever decision you want to make. We are knowledgeable about a wide variety of services and are always there to listen.  You can remember the Hotline phone number 800-621–HOPE (4673) by thinking of June 21st HOPE.

Help Support our Hotlines

In 2017 our Hotlines answered 97,228 calls from survivors in crisis. Now you can support our lifesaving services by answering the call for hope. Your support will help victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking and all forms of violence to move from crisis to confidence.

Help us raise $6,210 by June 21st to help support all of our lifesaving services. Please Donate Today