We need a National Violence Prevention Hotline in the USA
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We need a National Violence Prevention Hotline in the USA.
Violence impacts millions of people each year.
Yet, a great deal of violence is preventable.
The Violence Prevention Hotline (NVPH) proposes to provide free, confidential, expert support for people in distress and feeling compelled toward committing acts of violence in the future. Thinking is not a crime, yet many people contemplating violence do not know who to turn to to discuss their violent thoughts, and so they may stay isolated which can lead to further distress and thus, they may act. The National Violence Prevention Hotline can act as a lifeline for anyone who has violent thoughts and prevent violent acts from occurring in the future. It may also provide a lifeline for victims of violence who have not yet called the police and are seeking counsel regarding their situation.
Like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, The National Violence Prevention Hotline seeks to staff professional counselors to take calls from people who are in distress. The difference is that the Violence Prevention Hotline will attempt to reach and work with people who are contemplating violent acts against others.
The National Violence Prevention Hotline will also work with victims of violence to provide safe professional referrals, confidential education, in order to reduce the incidence of violence its harmful effects on people and communities.
Will You Join Us in Preventing Violence?
Right now, The Violence Prevention Hotline is a dream – a dream to help reduce the impact of violence on people, families, and communities. Will you lend your voice to supporting our cause? Sign our petition to create a National Violence Prevention Hotline at CHANGE.org We are hoping to share this petition with SAMSHA (the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration) as well as government officials, business leaders, and other leaders in the United States.
Violence Can Impact Anyone
Everyone gets angry and many people contemplate violent acts – but some people need more help than others to deescalate violent tendencies. The National Violence Prevention Hotline would help people struggling with compulsions toward committing acts of violence and those threatened by violence. This includes:
- Lone Wolf Shooters
(The news stories are all the same: No one that knew the person thought they were capable of this type of act, and no one knew about it. If there was a line that someone could call when they were distressed and contemplating a mass attack, there might be a chance at lessening this awful outcome)
- Bullying Behaviors
(Often times, people who are bullying have emotional issues that they are not dealing with and thus they project their pain outward—if someone is bullying, they can call and get help, before it’s too late).
- Work Place Violence
(Sometimes people feel like there is no one to turn to, not their manager, not human resources, not even a friend—or they lose their job—the NVPH could help prevent those contemplating violence in their work place, from following through.
- Domestic Violence
(Over 10 million people are directly affected by DV each year in the US (https://ncadv.org/statistics if there was a line for the abusive partners to call where they could get help, these numbers may decrease)
- Revenge Scenarios
(Getting revenge is ancient and pervasive in the earliest human stories and myths. Getting revenge or “the myth of redemptive violence” never satisfies the perpetrator, it just brings more pain—hope for those contemplating violent revenge is just a call away)
- Gang Violence
(When one is in a gang, they may believe there is no way out and they have to continue to follow orders and commit acts of violence—there may be no one or any help in their neighborhood—the NVPH will give them a chance to stop the cycle).
- School Violence
(If someone is contemplating violence at school, it is likely they are going to keep this a secret from school administrators, their peers, and parents—the NVPH will give them the support they need to ask for help.
- Relationship Violence
(Similar to domestic violence, relationship violence can take many forms—whatever the case, the NVPH will be available 24/7 to take calls from those compelled toward violent acts in their relationships).
- Sexual Abuse
(While there is ample help for the survivors of sexual abuse and there are services for perpetrators, the NVPH would offer a bridge for those contemplating sexual abuse against others and act as a preventative bridge to have them seek appropriate professional help).
- Victims of Violence
(The NVPH would provide education, resources, and a listening ear to those who may be victims of violence, but have not yet reached out to the proper authorities or found a way to escape the violence in their life).
The Violence Prevention Hotline doesn’t exist yet. But we think it should. Here’s how it could work:
Violence doesn’t sleep. 24/7 staffing ensures that there’s always a kind professional just a phone call away—365 days a year.
Use Existing Resources:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline already staffs trained counselors and occasionally receives calls from those contemplating violence or victims of violence.
While there is an overlap between suicide prevention and violence prevention - they are different. The staff will be trained in the nuances.
We are looking for help to promote the hotline and secure funding. Have you - or someone you know - been impacted by violence in your life? Do you believe this is important? Please lend your voice, it all starts with spreading the message and signing our petition.
A Vision for the National Violence Prevention Hotline
A Roadmap to Safety – and Security
The National Violence Prevention Hotline (NVPH) would operate similarly or alongside the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL). Since the NSPL already has several resources – including call centers, relationships with local hospitals and mental health centers, emergency services, and a network of trained counselors standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – it would make sense that the NVPH would be an extension of that organization.
The urge to use violence toward others has different elements than the urge to commit suicide. Thus, the clinicians would be trained on understanding anger, violence, revenge, power dynamics, the motivations for violence, and have a high degree of empathy for the people calling in (who are suffering, but are choosing an unpopular choice of what to do with their pain). The counselors would also have to have expert skills in dealing with people in crisis, be able to establish rapport and potentially deescalate a person calling in who may be very angry or desperate and talking about committing violent acts. The counselors would also utilize relationships with local crisis and emergency services related to where the caller is calling from, to help save lives and get medical help on the ground. Some counselors already working for the NSPL may not fit working for the NVPH, while others would be able to be trained and move into a role at NVPH.
We are asking for a grant from SAMSHA (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to help cover the costs of development. We are asking for corporate, philanthropic and government help to make the NVPH a reality. We are asking for people of influence and celebrity to make their voices known and to help publicize NVPH both prior to and after its launch. We are hoping to broadcast the NVPH far and wide and so that people who may be contemplating acts of violence will call in and get the help they need to make different decisions – and have hope once again.
Paul Krauss MA, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor and Professional Consultant
Paul Krauss is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Professional Consultant who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the host of The Intentional Clinician podcast and also works to train counselors on best practices to improve their outcomes with clients.
Paul has worked with many different populations and has spent a great deal of his time working specifically with people who are recovering from some type of trauma—often times from a type of violence or a severe accident. Paul believes that every human being has the potential to transform in a powerful way and works with people from all walks of life to meet their potential as humans, to heal, and to make changes.
Paul conceived of the idea for the National Violence Prevention Hotline after a series of events, including hearing a story of a person refraining from committing a violent act because a kind woman confronted this potential offender while he was in emotional distress, guns in hand and ready to act against innocent citizens, with empathy and understanding, at just the right time. As a result of her outreach to him, he put down his weapons and asked for the police to be called and get professional help–he received it. At that moment, Paul realized that we have hotlines to prevent suicides and help the victims of domestic violence, but not to prevent or deal with violence or those who perpetrate it more broadly.
His vision is to help save lives and reduce the devastating impact of violence on people, relationships, and communities.
Paul Krauss discusses the genesis of the hotline on his podcast: The Intentional Clinician, episode 16.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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