During the COVID-19 pandemic, Shalom Task Force’s confidential hotline has seen an increase in victim-survivors calling about escalated violence in the home and increased incidents of physical violence by their abusers. Many are requesting shelter access and free legal services to help them leave their current abusive relationships. Some are calling just to be heard and believed. Based on recently released worldwide reports and statistics, Shalom Task Force is expecting a surge in calls to our hotline and Sarah’s Voice legal department in the coming months as shelter-in-place ends.
Shalom Task Force’s confidential hotline provides a listening ear to all. We help survivors with safety planning, thinking about ways to obtain safety, and explore options. We advise friends and family on how best to support someone they know that is a victim, and support the friend and family in the struggle of not being able to make choices on behalf of their loved ones. Our referrals help callers gain access to resources including legal assistance, counseling, and safe shelters.
At a Shalom Task Force educational program, a participant came over to a member of our staff afterwards and asked, “Is your hotline really anonymous?” After the presenter assured the participants that our hotline was completely anonymous, they were still not convinced. “How does that work? Is there really no caller ID? How can I be sure?” The presenter walked her through the process of calling the hotline to ease her concerns.
For many callers, calling the Shalom Task Force Hotline is the first time verbalizing that there is abuse in their relationship. They are concerned about privacy and terrified that their story will become known to the broader community. We know that people need to feel comfortable calling and reaching out for the help they need and deserve. Below we’ve included the most frequently asked questions about calling the hotline.
Is the hotline really anonymous? Is there any way for you to find out who I am?
Shalom Task Forces takes prides in the confidentiality and anonymity of our hotline. While technology has progressed to include caller ID, we have taken great care to have this function disabled from our hotline office phones. When you call, the phones display reads “HOTLINE” with our hotline number listed as the incoming phone number, and not your number.
If the hotline is anonymous, why does the advocate ask me personal questions?
We take the privacy and dignity of our callers very seriously. Our top priority is to be a resource for you. When a call comes in, the advocate may ask for a first name. It does not have to be your real name. It’s to help make the conversation go more smoothly and help better serve you if you choose to call back in the future. We also ask for some personal information, such as what area you live in, your age, family dynamics, and what abuse you’ve experienced. We do this in order to best understand you and your needs, so that we can give the most appropriate guidance and local resources. We also ask you how you learned about us so we can adapt and best reach those who need our services. You do not have to answer any question you do not want to.
Can you call me back to check on me in a week?
Shalom Task Force recently began to offer a callback service to callers. Callers can leave a voicemail with a safe number and time to be called back and an advocate will reach out to offer assistance. Although this means you are not fully anonymous, your information is fully confidential and protected. Due to safety concerns we will block our number so our return call will come in as “Unknown ID”. We will not leave a voicemail unless you’ve specified that it is safe to do so.
Is the hotline only for victims of domestic abuse? Can I call if I have a question about dating, or relationships?
Our hotline advocates are trained to provide support around issues ranging from domestic abuse to everyday dating and relationship questions. Advocates are trained on providing a listening ear and tips on healthy or unhealthy relationships, and can provide referrals for further professional guidance if indicated.
We highly encourage you to call if you are looking to talk about red flags in a relationship. When providing our high school and campus educational workshops, we encourage students to call our hotline with any questions or concerns they may wish to discuss. This gives students an opportunity to start an important dialogue during what may be a sensitive stage in their lives.
I noticed something concerning about my brother’s marriage, can I call?
Yes. Many of our calls are from concerned family members, friends, rabbis, and professionals. We can help you figure out how to best support them during this difficult time.
Does the hotline receive calls from people in my community?
We work with the full range of the Jewish community, and our advocates are trained to be culturally competent to serve the needs of all communities of the international Jewish world. Our callers are Modern Orthodox, Chassidic, Yeshivish, and beyond. We receive calls from all over the US, Europe, Israel, Australia and more. We are constantly working to expand our referrals network in order to aid callers from around the country and across the globe. We field calls for anyone in need. Domestic abuse does not discriminate on the basis of location, gender, background, or religion. Neither do we.
Do you encourage people to get divorced? That’s not something I want to hear about.
The goal of our hotline is to provide support and empowerment, not to push any agenda or decision on the caller. We provide emotional support and reflective listening to help a caller assess their own situation. This includes collaboratively brainstorming as many options as possible. The caller can then choose from the options discussed in order to help them manage their physical and emotional safety. If, after a thorough assessment, we are concerned about a caller’s safety remaining in the home, we will voice our concern. We may talk about the likelihood of ongoing behavior changing or not. We will never, however, say to a caller “you should get divorced.” If a caller is interested in exploring and learning more about legal resources, we will provide them with an appropriate referral.
Doesn’t Shalom Task Force only help women?
Domestic Abuse affects everyone. Shalom Task Force’s goal is to help anyone who is in need of support, regardless of their gender or any other characteristics. Men can and do call our hotline and receive the same compassionate support as any of our callers.
What should I do? Can you give me instructions?
Our advocates provide emotional support and can help you brainstorm as many options as possible from which you can choose to help you remain safe. This does involve recommendations; however, our advocates will not dictate an exact plan for what to do next. Although it can feel frustrating to not be told exactly what to do when that is what you’re looking for, we take your situation seriously and expect that you know yourself and your situation better than we possibly could. We strive to be “experts” in providing support and helping you understand your options, but ultimately you are the expert of your life.