November is National Native American Heritage Month. November 20th marks the start of Homicide Victim Awareness Month and it is also Transgender Day or Remembrance. November 25th is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. That’s a lot of important observances for just one month, and I didn’t want to let any of them go unacknowledged. At the intersection of all of these important dates, I[...]
I’m sure it’s no coincidence that a new limited series, “Maid,” debuted on Netflix on October 1st, the first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The story is inspired by a real survivor’s experience, although names and details are changed, characters are added, etc. The story follows Alex, a single mom who left her emotionally abusive and alcoholic husband in the middle of the night with[...]
If you haven’t been following the abuse case involving Hollywood celebrities Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, now might be a good time to look through some of the details around the case. Here’s a brief synopsis though: Amber Heard made domestic abuse allegations against her spouse, Johnny Depp. His career was plummeting, until audio proof was released in which Heard admitted to committing physical abuse against[...]
The first few weekends of college can really make or break your entire college experience. Your residence hall staff will probably tell you that the best time to get out and make new friends in college is in the first few weeks. That window is when everyone else is looking for new friends too. Some of you are trying to figure out which fraternity or sorority you want to join, or what club to be a part of. And[...]
Fourth of July came and went and I’m guessing we all heard our fair share of seemingly patriotic anthems. As it happens, some of our favorite holiday hits aren’t about the USA at all. While there are quite a few that I could name, one of the most popular is “Independence Day” by Martina McBride. The title might deceive you into thinking this is just another Fourth of July tune, but a deeper listen[...]
Survivor Series: Pride Edition - "A Collective Experience of Emotional Abuse for the LGBTQ Community"
*Trigger Warning: This blog post talks about suicide.
It’s Pride month, so of course I had to write my first blog about the LGBTQ community. However, I have to be honest and say that while Pride is about celebration, the majority of this blog is not very happy. I want to celebrate, but I want to create understanding and change more. That being said if you are a part of the queer community, I hope this blog post helps[...]
“You Are Not Alone.” This is a phrase that shows up often in our social media posts, on our website, in our other blogs posts, in presentations we give, and during our calls. So when I saw that same phrase as the amplified message for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) this month for Mental Health Awareness Month, I started reflecting on why this phrase is so important. It might seem like we use that[...]
Late one night this past July, I turned on the documentary “Athlete A” on Netflix. I’d heard it was good, and being 3 months into the pandemic, I had watched almost everything else Netflix had to offer. I had no idea the impact that watching it would have on me or the months of my life following.
It’s a tough watch, if I’m being honest. My heart ached for the girls and women abused by Larry[...]
Abuse can happen to people in all walks of life, and as a general rule, we should be on the lookout for the signs of abuse in all of our friends and family members. But through no fault of their own, certain populations can be especially vulnerable to abuse. March is National Developmental Disabilities Month. In a perfect world, National Developmental Disabilities Month should be about celebrating the contributions that[...]
Many young people look forward to February because of Valentine’s Day. After all, what could possibly be bad about a whole day dedicated to celebrating love? For some, it really is a beautiful opportunity to go on a fun date, buy chocolate and flowers, and celebrate one another. But here at the Iowa Victim Service Call Center, we know that “love” is often used to describe relationships that are anything[...]
Back in September 2018, a popular television show called “You” was released on Netflix. The show takes viewers through a whirlwind of events that highlight a stalking situation from the stalker’s perspective. As the show nears its 3rd season, it seems to get more far-fetched with each episode. This makes it easy to ignore the little signs of stalking in real life because they aren’t “that[...]
We've all heard of DV and probably feel like we have a pretty good understanding of it. But maybe society's idea of violence and abuse isn't quite right. Domestic violence can happen to anyone. Victims aren't all from a certain demographic; they are found among every race, ethnicity,[...]
Four months. That’s how long it’s been since I asked you to leave. That’s how long it’s been since you sat on the couch, looked me straight in the eyes and told me you were going to continue to see your affair partner. That’s how long I’ve been living a life free of your abuse.
I want you to know that I never loved you. I fell in love with the person that you created just for me. You[...]
If you talk to someone who has never been sexually assaulted, they might tell you to get over it. If you talk to someone who doesn't understand trauma, they won't know why you're still "stuck on it."
If you talk to someone who is trauma-informed, they get it. They will listen to you and sympathize with your pain and struggle. Because they understand the awful reality of trauma, they won't ask you to "move on." They won't[...]
~Continued from Survivor Series: Drowning in Infidelity and Emotional Abuse~
It had been almost a year and a half of the lies, the half-truths, and the manipulation. I started to forget what it felt like to be happy. Peace of mind or stability? They didn't exist for me.
In February of 2020, my husband resigned from his job to begin working closer to home. After finishing the old job, he asked if we could go for a[...]
"Gotcha!!" The outburst came from somewhere in the back of the room, followed by hushed protests. It was reading hour and the kids should have been silently reading their books (or at least pretending to). Jennifer didn't have to lift her eyes from her own book to know who the culprit was.
Leslie. It was always Leslie.
Taking a deep breath and summoning all her patience, Jennifer marched across the classroom. She stopped[...]
I used to love her. At least I thought I did. Being manipulated feels a lot like love if you've never experienced the real thing before. And I hadn't.
We met the summer after my junior year. She was gorgeous, the kind of girl who could hook you with just a glance. Every guy was fighting for her attention so when she set her sights on me, I snatched her up.
We started dating shortly after we first hung out, and a whirlwind[...]
If you've ever seen the movie "Taken," your view of human trafficking might be warped like mine was.
Girls kidnapped and kept in cages. In foreign countries. Never seeing the light of day.
While all this made for a thrilling, Liam Neeson film, it doesn't match reality. Those things can be true of trafficking victims, but they’re not the norm. Experts tell us that human trafficking is often much more subtle. It[...]
"What kind of trouble?" I asked her.
It didn't matter what I said or did; she wasn't going to tell me.
"I keep my problems inside," she said.
If you're the parent[...]
There’s never a convenient time to leave. People ask me why I didn’t leave sooner or how I could put my kids in danger for so long. They wonder why it would be so difficult to get out; it’s not like he’s around 24/7.
They don’t understand.
I didn’t have a choice.
Living with John was a never-ending nightmare, but it was all I knew. I moved in with him when I was 17. I was young,[...]
This was it.
Every parent's nightmare.
His precious little girl with tears streaming down her face.
Broken. Hurting. Telling the most unbelievable story.
It couldn't be true? Could it?
His doubt was partially anchored in the who. His brother would never have touched her. It was unimaginable. He was a good uncle, friend, and father himself. He couldn't have done something so...awful.
And even if, in some bizarre world[...]
The name sounded interesting when I saw it on the job listing site, but I had no idea what it meant. To advocate is to….fight for? Speak on behalf of? Defend? Support?
It turns out all were true.
Victim advocates do so much, but because what we do is confidential, most of it goes unnoticed. We walk survivors through the most devastating crises of their lives. We fight for the rights of those who[...]
Tick. Tick. Tick.
Could time move any slower??
Brent* was struggling to keep his eyelids open, let alone pretend to pay attention, while the English teacher droned on and on about participles and subjunctive tenses and….oh honestly, she might as well have been speaking French. He hated English. The teacher probably hated him for sleeping through every class, failing tests, and forgetting assignments, but he was[...]
Here we are, the last week of June - which means Pride Month 2019 is coming to an end (*sigh* bye, glitter - until next year). Pride Month 2019 celebrated many victories for the LGBTQ+ community: Education systems are implementing better training for teachers and counselors on how to combat the high rates of suicide amongst LGBTQ+ teens, more and more restaurants, event centers, etc. are implementing gender neutral[...]
There’s something about the month of June that just tends to put people in such a great mood, you know? June is typically the beginning of summer vacation for kids and teens, it’s the month when the sun really begins to shine and the weather warms up, everything becomes so green and lush, days can be spent by the pool or hanging out at a softball/baseball game, and many people begin to take their family[...]
If you’ve been on social media, have watched TV, or talked to basically anyone recently, you might have noticed that the hot topic of debate at the moment is Lifetime’s new documentary series titled “Surviving R. Kelly”. If you haven’t heard about it, the documentary series focuses on the testimonies of women who claim they are survivors of the multiplatinum singer’s alleged domestic and[...]
Despite my begging Julia not to, she dialed the 1-800 number and looked at me with those demanding, “big sister” eyes. I heard the beeping of the numbers as she dialed. Each one, getting closer to someone on the other line. What would I say? Where would I begin? How much time could I spend talking?
My sister suspected something was going on when I went to the emergency room last year with a broken rib. She[...]
Halloween has ended and so we enter the season of thanks. My fellow advocates and I have been reflecting on what we are thankful for and we certainly have a lot of answers! We’re very thankful for things like family, friends, our pets, and our work. These are all great answers, but I’ve been reflecting, and I feel there are some important ones that we’ve overlooked.
What if we were to think about[...]
Let’s imagine the following scenario together: a friend is telling you about a co-worker they have who was recently assaulted by their spouse. Your friend explains that over the weekend, their co-worker had to be admitted to the hospital after a fight between the co-worker and their spouse escalated to physical violence. Your friend was shocked to learn this as they always thought that their co-worker had such a[...]
Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Avicii. Tyler Honeycutt. You may or may not recognize these names and you may or may not see the connection between them.
Each one is a celebrity, but all have something much greater in common. All these people have committed suicide this year.
Suicide is a difficult subject for many and rightfully so. It is hard to understand how a person could take their own life. Family and friends are[...]
After the loss of a loved one, the world can feel unempathetic and meaningless. We become so attached to the day-to-day routine of our lives, but when we lose someone we love, the day-to-day seems to have no purpose – no meaning. The days moving forward seem less significant because the one you love isn’t able to share the day with you. This feeling deepens when the one you love was killed by an act of violence.[...]
Whatever happened to you, however long ago or recent it was, I want you to know it was not your fault. Whether you were a child, in a short skirt, or drunk out of your mind – it was not your fault. It doesn’t matter if you were flirting, or willing to “make out” – the second you felt uncomfortable or said, “no,” it should’ve stopped there. Even if you didn’t out-right[...]
Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted (RAINN, 2017). Understand that sexual violence does not discriminate. Sexual violence affects all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicity’s, social strata’s, ages, etc. If you have not been directly affected by sexual violence, odds are that you know someone who has been affected by it. Because sexual violence is such a prevalent issue, we want to take the time[...]
When you google “spring break sexual assault,” links to national news stories come up of a girl who was gang raped in 2015 on the Panama City Beach while bystanders recorded. More links come up with the aftermath of this event: the men who were charged with sexual battery and the trials summed up into articles. Behind those links is so much more than just a story. There is humiliation and pain for a young woman[...]
Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year (NCADV). That’s not a small number. According to a survey through NCADV, majority (81%) of parents believe that teen dating violence is not an issue or don’t know if it’s an issue. With teen dating violence[...]
With Valentine’s Day approaching, and February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, it felt like a good time to talk about some realities our teens are facing with relationship expectations.
Let’s face it - We are all products of marketing whether we like to believe it or not: Fidget spinners, skinny jeans, name brands, etc. Everything from the clothes we wear on our backs, to the snacks we bring to[...]
As we wrap up national stalking awareness month and move onto teen dating violence awareness month, it is important to understand that the two often come hand in hand. It has been found that 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the US have been stalked in their lifetime. Of these individuals, 60.8% of females and 43.5% males report being stalked by a current or former intimate partner (ncadv.org). Stalking can be an[...]
Before starting my work as an advocate, the only time I had to worry about “stalking” was when someone said “Facebook stalking,” or “Instagram stalking,” etc. I came from a sheltered world where stalking seemed like a joke, and a “normal” thing to do to someone on social media platforms – not a serious matter. The reality of the matter is that stalking is easier than[...]
7.5 million people are stalked in one year in the United States. That’s not a small number. The majority of these people are stalked by someone they know. The most common tactic of stalking for both female and male victims is repeatedly receiving unwanted phone calls, voicemails, and/or text messages.
When working as an advocate that serves survivors of domestic violence, we come to realize that stalking[...]
Safety Planning with Children
1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are victims of child sexual abuse. These statistics prove what a necessity it is to start having conversations about safety while children are young. These conversations can be initiated by daycare providers, teachers, parents, or anyone who works with children.
It has been shown that a majority (93%) of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attackers. [...]
This is the question we often get asked by friends, family, and even survivors who are wondering what kind of services we provide. If you looked “advocate” up in the dictionary you would see that it is defined as “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.” This definition simply does not give our day to day work enough credit.
Some days, being an advocate means[...]
I work at the Iowa Victim Service Call Center.
“So… a call center?”
I’ve heard this from friends, family, and people in general when I tell them about what I do. I can hear the tone in their voice - as if working in a call center automatically devalues my job. I won’t lie, I understand the hesitation. When I first applied for this position a little over a year ago, I imagined a dim[...]
We have added a great new addition to the Call Center! In an effort to ensure all victims have a comfortable and safe way to reach out for help, we have added a text line.
To use the text line individuals text ‘iowahelp’ to 20121. This text line is 24/7, 365 days a year with trained advocates to answer every text message. When individuals text in advocates will, depending on the individuals desires,[...]
According to the Walk Free Movement 45.8 million people are enslaved worldwide. Nearly 1 in 3 victims of slavery are children. Over half of victims of slavery are women and children. The National Human Trafficking Hotline has received 13,454 this year with 31 human trafficking cases being reported in Iowa.
The Advocates at the Iowa Domestic Violence & Victim Service Call Center are among the 8.3 million[...]
Families and friends of homicide victims experience a sudden traumatic, life changing loss. Homicide is not a normal, lifespan death or illness. It is a crime. Your loved one has been suddenly taken from you and now you must try to reorganize your life and go on.
Coping with a violent death is always difficult. Iowa Homicide & Other Violent Crimes programs were developed with the mission to ensure survivors’ and[...]
Since October 2015 we have received 4,862 incoming calls from victims. Not from one specific part of the state, not from one specific gender or ethnicity and not from one specific age group. Violence affects low and high income, all gender identities and ethnicities as well as the young and the old. Violence knows no boundaries. As advocates answering your phone call we want you to know the following things:
The end of May marks Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline’s 8th full month of being in operation! Since October of 2015, we have answered more than 8,000 incoming phone calls from across the state of Iowa.
Many of you may have noticed the addition of ‘& Crime Victim Call Center’ to our name and logo. We are excited to announce that we have expanded, allowing our advocates to serve even more crime[...]
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) promotes victims’ rights every April, honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf, with the recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW). This year’s theme – Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope. – presents the opportunity to highlight the importance of providing needed services at the earliest stages of[...]
The countdown is on! Only six more days before Sexual Assault Awareness Month begins. What a great opportunity for us all to put our focus on such an important topic. Let’s all join together to recognize the strength and courage of sexual assault victims and survivors, partner with each other to make our resources stronger and focus energy in sexual assault prevention.
Let’s start with defining what sexual[...]
Below are a few statistics from the National Domestic Violence Helpline (www.thehotline.org):
- On average, 24 people per minute[...]
Do you have a teenager that is starting to explore the world of dating? If so, it is important for you to be aware and to educate them about teen dating violence. According to the National Health Information Center more than 1 in 10 teens, who have been on a date, have been physically abused by their boyfriend or girlfriend.
According to an article posted by Northwest Community Healthcare, teen dating violence is[...]
Working for the Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline has been a very rewarding, inspiring, and eye-opening opportunity for me. I can honestly say that I was blind to how prevalent domestic violence really is.
The training to become a Helpline Advocate was intensive and prepared me for the day we started taking calls. Something that I hold onto from my training is that being an advocate doesn’t stop[...]
The holiday season is upon us and most of us are busy with traditions, family gatherings and the joy that holidays bring. But for many, the holidays continue on as any other day; with an all-encompassing fear and feelings of isolation. Domestic violence doesn’t take a break for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other holidays. It still persists for so many people.