Over the December holidays, a woman contacted the SAFEline Chat service because she was experiencing flashbacks of traumatic events. Having survived previous sexual assaults, some of which were perpetrated by family members when she was younger, she said she needed to ground herself.
She stayed on the chat line for nearly an hour and a half, typing back and forth with one of our chat advocates until she felt comfortable enough to end the session. Before the chat was over, she planned a walk-in to our Resource Center, said she would contact her sobriety coach through AA, and learned about new grounding techniques she felt would help her moving forward.
Introducing SAFEline Chat
SAFEline Chat is a new addition to safeaustin.org, joining our 24/7 SAFEline Hotline. The chat service is meant to more effectively reach anyone affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, or human trafficking. The free service is also available to anyone needing parenting support who prefers to communicate digitally.
Additionally, it is a secure way to communicate when a voice call may not be safe. For the woman experiencing flashbacks, the chat line was the only way she could talk about her assaults.
Prior to reaching out, she had stopped by Eloise House, SAFE’s 24/7 facility solely dedicated to administering free Sexual Assault Forensic Exams (SAFEs) to sexual assault survivors.
Initially, she said she didn’t want to work with law enforcement – which is completely acceptable. She said the workers at Eloise House helped her “find the strength” to contact the authorities.
After being at Eloise House, though, she began to feel isolated. Her family had stopped believing and supporting her after her second sexual assault. Her boyfriend, who she had learned to rely on for support, was in a substance abuse treatment inpatient program. She had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and was working to stay sober.
The methods she usually used to calm and soothe herself were not working.
That’s when she turned to SAFEline Chat. The chat advocate just asked her to remain online until she felt better.
In addition to helping adults who are more comfortable with digital communication, SAFE hopes to reach youth via chat. Young people don’t often call the hotline, and studies show many youth prefer to chat instead of talk on the phone.
Currently, the SAFEline Chat advocates are available from 4 p.m. to midnight on Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Chat duties are handled by two advocates, both of whom are fluent in Spanish and English. As the service expands, SAFE hopes to offer chat 24/7.
In the meantime, the SAFEline Hotline can be reached any time at 512.267.SAFE (7233).