The History And Importance Of The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH)

Updated June 14, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
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Intimate partner violence is never okay

In February 2021, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) celebrated 25 years of service. Today, its  says the Hotline refers callers to “services operated by expert advocates and other staff members dedicated to spreading education and awareness about domestic violence". Their help is free and available day or night. For a quarter of a century, the NDVH has been promoting their vision of a world where all relationships are violence-free. You might wonder, though, how this organization got to where it is today.

Why do we need the NDVH?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 41% of women and 26% of men have reported “contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner” in the United States.  When faced with domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence, people can experience guilt, shame, and confusion. This can make it hard to reach out for the help they need. 

Moreover, some people may not know where to turn when they find themselves in a domestic violence situation. In an emergency, individuals experiencing domestic violence are encouraged to call 911 or get in contact with law enforcement. For non-emergencies, there's the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE).

History of the Domestic Violence Hotline

The NVDH was created on September 13, 1994 when President Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The hotline took its first call two years later on February 21, 1996. Seven years later, on August 2, 2003, it took its one-millionth call. In October 2005, the hotline raised $2.7 million to improve its technological capacity. The result of this work meant that more calls could be answered, and more assistance is given to those in need.

Over the years, the NDVH has received the support of numerous politicians either directly or indirectly (President Clinton, President Joe Biden, and President Obama, among them). The NDVH has also partnered with many companies and organizations over the years, including Verizon Wireless, Liz Claiborne Inc., Marshalls, Break the Cycle, and the NFL.

Importance of the Domestic Violence Hotline

The NDVH plays a crucial role in helping individuals experiencing domestic violence. It may provide important resources such as legal resources, children's services/parenting, mental health counseling, statewide hotlines, and national resources, for example.  According to the hotline’s most recent Impact Report, it answered over 400,000 calls, texts, and messages in 2021. 

Resources for individuals experiencing domestic violence

In the past, individuals may not have been adequately defended from domestic violence. They often lived through their abuse in silence and suffered the consequences, even when people outside the home were aware of what was going on. Today, things are different. Society is much less tolerant of domestic violence, and there are many places victims can turn for help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a good place to start.

If you are having trouble locating resources in your area, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health has compiled a useful list of programs and resources organized by the state.

Here are some other resources you might want to consider in addition to the domestic violence hotline:

Support groups

In-person and online support groups can be a good resource for survivors of domestic violence. Healing from abuse can be a long-term process that may impact your ability to trust other people. You may feel like you are alone in what you are going through or that your family and friends don't understand because they've never experienced anything like it. This is where support groups can be beneficial.

Support groups may allow you to connect with other people who have gone through similar situations and escaped from them. A support group gives you a chance to voice your feelings and experiences to people who understand and to hear similar stories from other people. Finding the right support group can give you a network to turn to when things are difficult. It can also connect you with people who are knowledgeable about resources and can give you advice or ways to cope with the healing process.

If you complete your search and realize that there are no organized domestic violence support groups in your area, you have a couple of options. You can:

  • Search for support groups online

  • Start your own support group

If you're looking for setting up a support group in an area that lacks resources for individuals experiencing domestic violence, one helpful resource is a manual called . This manual covers important topics like facilitating, group development and management, policies and protocols, and more. Creating a safe place where people can open up and support each other can make a significant impact. 

Women's shelters

A potential barrier for people looking to escape from a relationship where domestic violence is involved is not knowing where to go. You might be in a situation where no one can take you (and possibly your children) in, or you have moved away from friends and family and don't know anyone other than your abusive partner. This can be daunting and make you feel like you have nowhere to go. In America, most places do have state-funded women's shelters where you can seek refuge.

These shelters can help women and their children in several ways by providing them with:

  • Shelter

  • Food and water

  • Affordable health care

  • Counseling

  • Legal services

Still, women's shelters (as helpful and necessary as they are) are not perfect. These institutions face their such as achieving reliable funding and providing important services for the women who come through their doors. Different shelters may have different rules for how long women can stay. Still, all are responsible for doing their best to ensure that unknownness and safety are prioritized for those staying there.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has done a lot of good over the years. Not only has it helped survivors of domestic violence find the help they need, but it has also spread awareness about the problem and started important conversations amongst politicians, companies, and the public. Despite significant changes that have taken place since its launch over 25 years ago, the NDVH is still answering hundreds of thousands of calls per year, which means that there is still a lot of work to do. 

By learning about how the NDVH got started and why it's so important, people can start conversations about domestic violence. The more it’s discussed, the more likely someone may be to speak up when they are experiencing partner violence at home. Moreover, people who have never experienced domestic violence firsthand can start to understand how devastating these situations can be.


Intimate partner violence is never okay

Once you are safely out of a relationship involving domestic violence, your work may not be finished.  You could still be suffering from emotional wounds, conflicting emotions, and fear that could negatively impact your daily life. As you pick up the pieces and start to rebuild your life, having a strong support system can make a significant difference. Seeking additional support from a trained professional can also be beneficial to the healing process.

When it comes to counseling, you can choose from a couple of different options depending on your needs. If you want, you can go with the traditional method of seeing a counselor in person for regular sessions for as long as you need. This could mean weekly or monthly sessions, for example.

Survivors of domestic violence may face certain barriers to treatment, though. Some may mistakenly think the abuse is their fault, or they may just be uncomfortable talking about the trauma with a stranger, even a therapist. Online counseling may be more suitable in these circumstances since many people feel more at ease in an internet-based setting as opposed to a therapist’s office. This type of counseling can also be less time-consuming as there is no waiting list, and you don’t have to commute to your sessions. 

You don’t have to compromise the quality of your care when you choose online mental health care services, either. A comprehensive meta-analysis reviewed 10,000 different cases, comparing groups who received online and in-person therapy. Researchers found that both groups experienced the same benefits, and there were no significant differences in terms of outcomes. 


If you are currently experiencing domestic violence at home, know that you are not alone, and there are resources available for you to get out of the situation you are in. If you are a domestic violence survivor, be aware that what you have done takes a lot of strength, but the fight may not be over. There is no shame in asking for the help you need to recover physically and emotionally from the scars of domestic violence.  Reach out to a Regain counselor today. 

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