As domestic violence cases dominate the headlines in Massachusetts, advocates are focused on prevention. Most of the support hotlines target survivors, but one group is specifically looking to talk to abusers.
A Call for Change, which started in western Massachusetts, is the first hotline in the nation for abusers. They put up billboards on 93 South in Braintree advertising the hotline with statements such as “Rather than harming your spouse, call us for help.”
“As soon as we put them up, our call volume increased with people saying you’re on speaker. I’m alone in my car. I saw your billboard and I think this is for me,” co-founder JAC Patrissi said.
When they launched in April 2021, Patrissi thought they would be lucky to get 50 calls. They have already received close to 500 calls.
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
“People will say I saw the billboard. I’m on my way home and I don’t want to get into my abusive pattern. I want to do this differently tonight and I want to talk it through to get ready,” Patrissi said.
Patrissi said a dozen other states are considering starting similar hotlines for abusers and two are close to making it a reality.
“When I see these headlines, it says to me it’s time for us to change,” Patrissi said.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Call for Change is free, confidential and can be reached 877-989-3411.
Beth Leventhal is seeing an uptick in calls too. She is the executive director of The Network La Red, a survivor-led organization seeking to end partner abuse.
“What we don’t generally see or hear about are all of the other types of abuse that happen and are precursors to homicide. What we really need to do is show people what those are and show people there’s a lot more than happens before a homicide,” Leventhal said.
The Network La Red’s hotline is also free and confidential and can be reached at 800-832-1901.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), visiting www.thehotline.org or texting LOVEIS to 22522.