My name is Diane. I was a survivor of domestic violence and now I am a case manager at A New Leaf’s Centralized Screening Domestic Violence Hotline. I screen calls from victims of domestic violence in Maricopa County and out of state.
I had an incident with domestic violence myself a few years back so I knew what it felt like to go through such a difficult, dangerous situation. I entered this field because, having experienced the same challenges, I thought that I would be able to listen and understand their stories better. More than anything I wanted to help survivors of domestic violence and make sure what happened to me never happens to another person.
I work toward that goal every day at the Domestic Violence Hotline. Our main goal of taking calls is to get survivors that are in danger into shelter. Day to day, we hear all different things, from the lower escalations to the worst, where you can hear the violence. It’s hard work, but they need us.
Each call is different, so the resources I provide vary on need. Some just need someone to listen to their story. Some are just starting their journey, learning about available resources. Some want to know if what they are experiencing is abuse; many abusers are very calculated, taking very small steps so that the victim is not even aware of what is happening until it is too late. Many more are in immediate need of shelter because their situation is dangerous. So we listen, we talk to them, and we give them the tools to get out of an abusive household. Sadly, we can’t help everyone because there are so few resources and such a huge need, but we do our best.
We’ve been able to help a lot of families out of many dangerous situations, especially through our overflow program. The overflow program brings in families that are in an immediately dangerous situation, to prevent further harm and at worst loss of life. These survivors need somewhere to go to be safe, to feel safe, to protect and care for their children. Thanks to A New Leaf, they have somewhere to go. They will have shelter and food, while their needs will be taken care of until we can place them into long-term shelter. The overflow program is really important in saving lives in high-lethality situations.
It scares me sometimes to think of what would happen if I wasn’t there for many of these survivors. Most would simply never leave their abuser. Many experience abuse for years until they finally confide in someone and discover that something is seriously wrong, and then they call us. That’s when we work through their experiences, dealing with the abuse, and we find solutions for them.
The Centralized Screening Domestic Violence Hotline gives people a central point of contact to reach out to, and that saves lives. People are often given a bunch of numbers. They don’t know where to go, and we are the last number they reach that day. So when we speak to these survivors, we feel their frustration and fear. They’re trying to do something incredibly difficult and they feel like nothing is helping them. It isn’t the easiest place to start building trust. But I build it anyway because that’s my job, even if it means staying on the line for an hour while they wait for a car to be sent to pick them up. I would do anything I could to keep my callers safe.