"Women & Children First Crisis Hotline, how can I help you?" This is what you will hear on the other end of the line when you call WCF's 24 Hour Crisis Hotline. Calls are answered twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2016, over 9,000 calls were answered by our trained advocates.
The calls that come in to the hotline range from information and referral calls to immediate crisis situations. "Not everyone who calls in can come to the shelter right away, and not everyone is ready to," says Ascha, WCF's daytime Hotline Advocate. "There is a lady who calls every once in a while who simply needs someone to talk to, a way to express herself, and know that someone is there to listen to her. And that's what I do. I listen to her, give her information about resources, and assure her that there will always be someone here to take her call."
There are calls that come in from callers who are in a crisis situation and need help right away. The advocates are trained to asses the callers to make sure they are in a domestic violence situation and help them with whatever their immediate needs are. Callers who want to come to the shelter are given a safe meeting location, off the premises of the shelter to keep WCF's location confidential. The advocates give them instructions on how to keep in touch and how to contact the shelter when they reach the safe spot location.
There are other callers that are not dealing with an immediate crisis situation. These are people who are calling for information on services that WCF offers, such as counseling and support groups. Calls also come in to the Hotline from people who need to be connected with Pat Blackstone, WCF's Court Advocate. Callers also find WCF's information online and call from out-of-state, looking for their local shelters and resources. Our advocates connect them with shelters in their areas who can help.
Others just need a listening ear. "The Hotline is so important because it gives me the opportunity to help people in need," says Ascha. "A lot of times, I may be the first person a victim talks to before getting help. I know that there is a purpose to every call that I answer. It can be very hard, and sometimes very emotional, but I always do my best to help them get to a better place in their life."
When asked what the number one thing that people should know about WCF's hotline, Ascha answered, "We are always here. There will always be someone to listen and to provide some type of resource, whether it is a program at WCF or a connection to somewhere else. We are always here."
There is always help and hope on the other end of the line.