By Carter Sherman
February 21, 2018
In the days since Americans first glimpsed a photo of Colbie Holderness with a black eye, allegedly from her then-husband and former White House aide Rob Porter, more and more people have sought help for domestic abuse. The nation’s biggest domestic violence hotline has watched its daily traffic spike by 33 percent.The Hotline also isn’t the only domestic violence organization feeling the effect of the Porter allegations. While several smaller, regional hotlines told VICE News they hadn’t seen a spike, the New York-based Safe Horizon saw a 16 percent increase in its call volume last week, compared to the same time period in February 2017.
“Survivors are always scanning the environment to figure out if it’s safe to seek assistance or not, and I think we’ve seen with the #MeToo movement, that when many survivors speak out, it does empower others,” Liz Roberts said. However, she pointed out that the hotline’s increased call volume might be traced partly to New York City’s new domestic abuse awareness campaign, which happened to launch the same week the allegations against Porter became public.
Top White House officials reportedly knew that Porter’s ex-wives had accused him of abuse, yet kept him employed in the key post anyway. Even after the scandal broke, President Trump told reporters of Porter, “We hope he has a wonderful career, and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him.”
“As you probably know, he says he’s innocent,” Trump added. Porter has denied all abuse allegations.
In an email, Roberts told VICE News, “When we hear statements defending alleged offenders or discrediting survivors like those we have heard from the White House in the past week, this emboldens abusers, and can increase the danger to our clients.”