ILLINOIS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE IMPACT
Founded in 1998 to serve Chicago residents, the Hotline expanded to cover the state of Illinois in 2008. Today, an average of 3000 people reach out for support per month, waiting an average of just 39 seconds to speak to an advocate.
Victims, survivors, family and community members of survivors, service providers, and those who have perpetrated gender-based violence reach out via call, text, and chat. The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a significant increase in domestic violence throughout the United States and this is reflected in growing Hotline contacts.
47,349 contacts were made via call, text, and chat to the Hotline in 2023, vs. 37,238 in 2022 – a 27% increase.
The Hotline is available in 240+ languages. The top five languages besides English utilized in 2022 were Spanish, Arabic, Urdu, Polish, and Mandarin Chinese. Racially, callers are diverse with populations of color overrepresented as victims given the intersection of state violence and gender-based violence.
Through the Hotline, folks can access shelters or alternative emergency spaces; information on medical, legal, and counseling services provided throughout the state; information on Orders of Protection, the Victim’s Economic and Security Act (VESSA), and the Safe Homes Act; safety planning; transportation to shelter; and warm transfers to service providers.
Emergency housing at domestic violence shelters tends to be the highest priority for callers. And Chicago-area shelters experience dozens of days each year when space is unavailable.
Our Victim Information Resource Advocates (VIRAs, those who answer Hotline calls) are available 24/7 and are deeply committed to the work. They’ve worked through blizzards and a pandemic. Several have been with us for over two decades. “At the hotline, we’re a family,” says Graciela, a hotline supervisor who started as a VIRA in 1998.