Typical Helpline phonecall
This case study is representative of a typical call taken on the National Domestic Violence Helpline.
A woman called on behalf of her friend. She explained to the helpline worker taking the call that the friend was in an extremely violent and, in her opinion, dangerous relationship with an alcoholic man, but that the friend didn’t know who to tell or where to go. The caller’s friend had a five year old son and was worried that if she reported any violent incident to the police that they would take her son in to care.
Reassuring the caller
The helpline worker reassured the caller that her friend would not be in any danger of losing her child by reporting her partner’s behaviour. They also discussed the fact that not only was this relationship unhealthy and dangerous to the woman in question, but also to the well-being of the child, who had already witnessed many violent attacks on his mother and was becoming withdrawn and distressed. They both agreed that it was in the child’s best interest that the caller’s friend took herself and her child to a place of safety immediately where she would have time to think things through and decide on the best course of action without being under threat of violence. The helpline worker explained to the caller what refuges are and how a woman can gain access to them, as well as what refuge workers do to support women in her friend’s situation.
The caller had lots of questions regarding finances and the legal situation should her friend leave the home. The helpline worker was able to give the caller the telephone number of a women’s aid group in the caller’s area and a free legal helpline service for her friend to contact, in confidence, in the first instance. The helpline worker also gave the caller a telephone number for a helpline for parents under stress, so her friend could discuss any ensuing problems that the child may have as a result of the problems he has experienced in the home.
Sending further information
Although the caller had taken some notes throughout the call, the helpline worker offered to send her an information pack with a brief note giving the relevant telephone numbers again as well as some basic information leaflets about legal rights, risks to children and housing rights, and also some telephone numbers for agencies who deal specifically with issues related to alcohol abuse. She suggested that the caller finds a quiet time with her friend for them both to read the information together. She also urged the caller to encourage her friend to contact the Helpline herself, not only to support and reassure the woman in question but also to alleviate the caller of having the sole responsibility for her friend throughout what would obviously be an extremely stressful situation. The caller was also invited to contact the Helpline again at any time.
DURATION OF CALL: 25 minutes
Please note: For reasons of confidentiality, real names and genuine cases are not recorded in specific detail, although the Helpline are able to record statistical information from our monitoring data in order to inform funders and assess service delivery. The image on this page does not depict the actual caller.
If you would like to share your story about your call to the Helpline, please do let us know.
The National Domestic Violence Helpline is run in partnership between Women's Aid & Refuge.