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Katie and her boys, GJ, Cooper and Max.

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National Domestic Violence Hotline CEO Talks Self-Care

Helping Abused Women Survive and Thrive

Katie Ray-Jones is the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, headquartered in Austin. We caught up with Ray-Jones, a longtime Dripping Springs resident, as she returned from a trip to Washington D.C. where she met with congressional staff about The Hotline’s historic contact volume. It is the only 24/7 hotline confidentially serving anyone impacted by relationship abuse. Live advocates help over call, chat and text. The organization has served more than 6.5 million people since its inception in 1996. They are now experiencing record-breaking demand for services, with more than 3,000 contacts daily.

“When I started working in the domestic violence field 25 years ago, we focused on physical and emotional abuse. Today we have a deeper understanding of the types of abuse in relationships and their complexities,” said Ray-Jones. “Our advocates talk or chat confidentially with survivors about their unique experiences to understand how power and control are playing out in the relationship. They evaluate the options available to the individual, the benefits and risks of those options, and create a safety plan.”  

One in four women and one in three teens report physical violence in a relationship. But abuse isn’t just physical — emotional, verbal, financial, online and sexual abuses are all harmful and dangerous. For women and moms, it can be hard to ask for help or think about leaving a damaging relationship. “Our goal at The Hotline isn’t to convince you to leave your relationship. We want you to be safer, to do what’s best for you and to make your own informed decisions,” said Ray-Jones. 

Domestic violence has long-term health impacts. Ray-Jones, a survivor herself, shares, “I can still be triggered by something on TV or something someone says. My husband, who witnessed domestic violence as a child, gets triggered, which is why we want survivors to know you are not alone and the abuse is never your fault. Reach out for help.”

  • Katie and her boys, GJ, Cooper and Max.
  • Katie Ray-Jones

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 if you or someone you know is impacted by relationship abuse. Their services are free, confidential, and provided by live agents via call, chat or text. The warning signs of unhealthy or abusive relationships can be subtle at first. Red flags include excessive jealousy or displays of affection, constant put-downs, discouraging partners from spending time with friends and family, controlling finances or tracking locations. To learn more about these warning signs, visit TheHotline.org, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text “START” to 88788. Every person deserves a relationship that is positive, healthy and free from violence.