Michigan Department of Health & Human Services raises awareness of domestic violence hotline
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services wants to bring awareness to a 24/7 hotline it has set up to help people in the state.
Michigan’s 24/7 hotline has been providing live one-on-one crisis support for victims of domestic violence since January. So far, it's answered more than 500 calls, 200 chats and around 150 text messages.
Chéree Thomas oversees the hotline. She says the service is confidential and anonymous.
“So we ask them how they would like to be addressed whenever they call us. And so they can just say, their pronouns that they want, they can say a middle name, or Winnie the Pooh, it doesn't matter," she said.
Thomas says isolation has been one of the most common concerns brought up by callers.
"With COVID coming into play resources across the state in general dwindle, and access to those resources dwindle. And people found themselves more isolated than ever. And people lost jobs and access to transportation," she said.
According to Thomas, responders will not contact law enforcement without the caller’s consent.
"It's all up to them if they choose to share that information with us," she added. "So we don't collect any information that a survivor is not choosing freely to share with us."
Most often, Thomas says, survivors are not ready to leave the abusive relationship they may be in and responders are specifically trained to help callers through that moment.
"So for many survivors, having someone that can hear them and hold that space, and allow them to talk as much or as little as they want is the most important for them," Thomas said. "So we allow for survivors to define for them what success looks like, and getting the services that they need."
The hotline is available via phone at 866-VOICE-DV, through text at 1-877-861-0222 or online at www.mcedsv.org.