And yet for decades, the bulk of efforts to end intimate-partner violence have focused on criminalization rather than prevention. This is due in part to widespread beliefs that perpetrators will not seek help and that victims’ only option is to walk away, even when doing so puts their safety gravely at risk. This approach also largely ignores how many survivors want the abuse to end and to remain with their partner, for reasons including children, finances, cultural values, and, yes, even love. As a result, there has historically been a lack of resources for people who want to stop hurting their loved ones. Those that do exist are difficult for an abusive person to access unless they are convicted of a crime or pay to get help.
The helpline is one attempt to respond holistically to intimate partner violence in the U.S., built on the assumption that perpetrators will reach out for help if the resources are there. But what happens after an abuser hangs up the phone? Can they really change? At the link in bio, we spoke to helpline responders and domestic violence experts to find out.