Victims of domestic violence anywhere in Iowa have a new outlet for help anytime of the day. Sara Eastman is director of the Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline, which opened today.
“We are anticipating about 60,000 calls a year,” Eastman said. The helpline is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country.
Most of the agencies around the state that help survivors of domestic violence have a local crisis line, but at certain times of the day, those calls may go unanswered. “All the individual programs within the state are able to roll their phones to our helpline whenever needed,” Eastman said. “So, whether that be after hours, on the weekends, during staff development or training days, whenever they need that relief,” Eastman said. Calls to the helpline are free.
The call center is located in Sioux Center and is funded by a grant awarded by the Iowa Attorney General’s office. “We currently have a staff of 15 and we have at least two people on per shift. We will fluctuate that as we see a need, as the number gets out there a bit more, we will adjust our staffing accordingly,” Eastman said. The number is 1-800-770-1650. The staff members are trained to handle everything from crisis situations to counseling.
According to Eastman, the statewide helpline could be especially beneficial to victims living in rural areas — as they may be hesitant to call their local program out of fear the person on the other end of the line will recognize them.