Domestic violence agencies and confidential shelters (places whose addresses are kept secret) are a common option. Others may include cultural organizations, which will have resources specific to the needs of a particular cultural or ethnic identity (Red Women Rising is one such example for California Indigenous folks), or diversity centers, which can sometimes provide additional help for folks who identify as queer, trans, and/or part of the queer and LGBTQ+ communities.
To find a local organization or agency, you can:
- Do an online search
- Call a hotline and ask for local resources
- Call another service agency (such as a homeless shelter or healthcare clinic) and ask for a local domestic violence agency’s name and contact information; most service agencies collaborate in some way with other service agencies in their county or region
- Contact a cultural or diversity center to see if they have any recommended resources
- Visit a public library and ask a librarian or look up their community database
National Domestic Violence Organizations
With sites, articles, and the opportunity for information beyond calling a hotline.
- United States
- Break the Cycle (+ LoveIsRespect for teens)
- Futures Without Violence
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline
- The Network/La Red (queer, poly, & kink)
- Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN)
If you have suggestions or corrections for this list, please let us know!
What is an advocate?
An advocate for survivors of domestic violence is someone who has received extensive training on providing support to survivors. This may look a little different between different agencies and sometimes advocates will specialize in particular subjects (like law), but generally speaking an advocate is there to provide information and perspective so that a survivor can make their own decisions about their process, and the advocate will then do what they can to support the survivor in reaching those goals.
Note: Not all domestic violence advocates are mandated reporters. If that’s a concern for you, you should be able to ask an advocate about their mandated reporting policy before sharing your personal details.
How is an advocate different from a therapist or social worker?
There’s definitely a lot of crossover in the kinds of things that social workers, advocates, therapists, counselors, and other service providers do. Different individuals, agencies, and legal systems may define these roles in different ways, but generally speaking, an advocate for domestic violence survivors:
- helps a survivor figure out what the survivor wants, defines the obstacles facing the survivor, and provides as much information and resources as possible so the survivor can make their own best, informed choices while in the midst of an emotionally challenging time;
- do what they can to provide perspective without force or imposition of personal opinion;
- defaults to believing the survivor, unlike investigative workers, who are legally required to base their conclusions on physical evidence regardless of personal beliefs;
- may help a survivor find a licensed therapist, clinician, or other mental health professional, but usually the advocate does not have the licensing to perform those in-depth mental health services themselves (more often an advocate will remain focused on present circumstances and future goals);
- may have some legal privileges and protections around a survivor’s information if regional laws on domestic violence allow for it;
- may help a survivor with legal paperwork and preparation for appearing in court, although an advocate cannot provide actual legal advice (unless separately licensed as such);
- is not a case worker, although an advocate may sometimes work with the same survivor for a long period of time (depending on need and policy).
Do I have to work with an advocate?
Not at all! Unlike some social workers and case workers, who are often assigned, advocates typically operate on a voluntary basis. The vast majority of the time, you are not at all obligated or required to seek out an advocate if you don’t want one unless your local court mandates otherwise. However, advocacy agencies tend to be a good starting place for getting help, at the very least.
Do I have to go to a domestic violence agency?
No, you don’t. There are many reasons a survivor may choose not to contact their local domestic violence agency or shelter. Domestic and interpersonal violence appears in every demographic and most service providers, even if they haven’t been specifically trained for it, will likely at least be familiar with it. If there’s another organization that seems to offer more of what you’re looking for, go for it!