How “Athlete A” inspired me to speak up about sexual harassment.

How “Athlete A” inspired me to speak up about sexual harassment.

Late one night this past July, I turned on the documentary “Athlete A” on Netflix. I’d heard it was good, and being 3 months into the pandemic, I had watched almost everything else Netflix had to offer. I had no idea the impact that watching it would have on me or the months of my life following.

It’s a tough watch, if I’m being honest. My heart ached for the girls and women abused by Larry[...]

Healing Life's Deep Emotional Wounds

Healing Life's Deep Emotional Wounds

Growing up in the midst of instability left me with some wounds that were hard to heal. The bumps and scrapes of my childhood healed quickly; the uncertainty and fear, not so much. It was hard to focus on the things normal kids focus on: school, sports, friends. I wasn't sure where my next meal was coming from or when we would get kicked out of our apartment again. My mom did a good job considering what she had: 3 kids to[...]
Survivor Series: A letter to my abuser

Survivor Series: A letter to my abuser

Four months. That’s how long it’s been since I asked you to leave. That’s how long it’s been since you sat on the couch, looked me straight in the eyes and told me you were going to continue to see your affair partner. That’s how long I’ve been living a life free of your abuse.

I want you to know that I never loved you. I fell in love with the person that you created just for me. You[...]

Forgiving yourself for the “should haves”

Forgiving yourself for the “should haves”

"Why didn’t you just leave?"
This is a question our survivors hear a lot. Unfortunately, loved ones, strangers, and even professionals don’t always understand the complexities of abuse and trauma. It's not something you can easily walk away from and it can happen to ANYONE. One survivor shares her perspective:
I was a certified domestic violence advocate when I found myself in[...]
Survivor Series: Breaking Free

Survivor Series: Breaking Free

~Continued from Survivor Series: Drowning in Infidelity and Emotional Abuse~

It had been almost a year and a half of the lies, the half-truths, and the manipulation. I started to forget what it felt like to be happy. Peace of mind or stability? They didn't exist for me.

In February of 2020, my husband resigned from his job to begin working closer to home. After finishing the old job, he asked if we could go for a[...]

Survivor Series: Drowning in Infidelity and Emotional Abuse

Survivor Series: Drowning in Infidelity and Emotional Abuse

On November 14th, 2018, my husband of nearly 6 years came home from an overnight work trip and seemed off. He didn't even acknowledge me when he came in. Something was definitely wrong. As he was unpacking his bag, the text tone of his phone went off. Up until this point, we had had a completely trusting marriage. But something felt different this time. I asked who the text was from, and he immediately tensed up.
Hurting People Need You

Hurting People Need You

In the 30 seconds it will take to complete this sentence, an average of 12 people will have been raped, physically assaulted, or stalked by an intimate partner.  Let that sink in for a moment. When you wake up and brush your teeth (dentists recommend 2 minutes), that’s another 48 people.  While you take 15 minutes to eat your breakfast before work, that's another 360 people.  If you work a standard 8[...]
A Day in the Life of a Sexual Abuse Survivor

A Day in the Life of a Sexual Abuse Survivor

7:36 am
Gina woke up and rolled over to shut off the blaring alarm. When her eyes caught the sight of the cookie crumbs on the nightstand, she groaned. “Ugh, not again!” How was it that her body was constantly battling against her? She had been trying so hard to lose weight, but every time a pound or two came off, she found herself sleep eating.
It was a battle to drag herself[...]
Stories of Stalking: Part 2

Stories of Stalking: Part 2

It started out innocent. He messaged me on Facebook, asking if we could meet up and talk. In a public place? Check. During the day? Check. What's the harm in that? I thought.
We met up for coffee, and I immediately knew I wasn't interested. Any attraction was one-sided, from his end. I was polite; I talked to him for a half-hour and then left. I fully expected that to be the end of the story. I listened to[...]
Stories of Stalking: Part 1

Stories of Stalking: Part 1

I used to love her. At least I thought I did. Being manipulated feels a lot like love if you've never experienced the real thing before. And I hadn't.

We met the summer after my junior year. She was gorgeous, the kind of girl who could hook you with just a glance. Every guy was fighting for her attention so when she set her sights on me, I snatched her up.

We started dating shortly after we first hung out, and a whirlwind[...]

The Truth About Trauma:  ACEs and Their Outcomes

The Truth About Trauma: ACEs and Their Outcomes

The best way I heard it described was as a “dark filter.” Like every good Instagramer, I know the impact of a filter. It changes everything about a picture: the color, the mood, the meaning. It can make the difference between a hit post and one that will be ignored entirely.
Unfortunately, dark filters don’t just exist on social media.
You find them over the eyes of many[...]
Why No One Talks about Sexual Violence in Relationships

Why No One Talks about Sexual Violence in Relationships

We often think, when it comes to sex, anything goes if you’re in a relationship. But what happens when one person’s boundaries don’t match the others? Or when one partner pressures the other into doing things they aren’t comfortable with?
Sexual abuse happens within dating and marriage relationships all the time. It’s harder to notice because people rarely talk about it. We keep[...]
Against All Odds: Escaping an Abuser

Against All Odds: Escaping an Abuser

There’s never a convenient time to leave. People ask me why I didn’t leave sooner or how I could put my kids in danger for so long. They wonder why it would be so difficult to get out; it’s not like he’s around 24/7.

They don’t understand.

I didn’t have a choice.

Living with John was a never-ending nightmare, but it was all I knew. I moved in with him when I was 17. I was young,[...]



This was it.

Every parent's nightmare.

His precious little girl with tears streaming down her face.

Broken. Hurting. Telling the most unbelievable story.

It couldn't be true? Could it?

His doubt was partially anchored in the who. His brother would never have touched her. It was unimaginable. He was a good uncle, friend, and father himself. He couldn't have done something so...awful.

And even if, in some bizarre world[...]

Exhausted and Angry: The Signs of a Bad Student or a Domestic Violence Survivor?

Exhausted and Angry: The Signs of a Bad Student or a Domestic Violence Survivor?

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Could time move any slower??

Brent* was struggling to keep his eyelids open, let alone pretend to pay attention, while the English teacher droned on and on about participles and subjunctive tenses and….oh honestly, she might as well have been speaking French. He hated English. The teacher probably hated him for sleeping through every class, failing tests, and forgetting assignments, but he was[...]

Why the Need for Pride?

There’s something about the month of June that just tends to put people in such a great mood, you know? June is typically the beginning of summer vacation for kids and teens, it’s the month when the sun really begins to shine and the weather warms up, everything becomes so green and lush, days can be spent by the pool or hanging out at a softball/baseball game, and many people begin to take their family[...]

Surviving R. Kelly: Let's Talk About the Wheel

If you’ve been on social media, have watched TV, or talked to basically anyone recently, you might have noticed that the hot topic of debate at the moment is Lifetime’s new documentary series titled “Surviving R. Kelly”. If you haven’t heard about it, the documentary series focuses on the testimonies of women who claim they are survivors of the multiplatinum singer’s alleged domestic and[...]

A Season of Necessities

Halloween has ended and so we enter the season of thanks. My fellow advocates and I have been reflecting on what we are thankful for and we certainly have a lot of answers! We’re very thankful for things like family, friends, our pets, and our work. These are all great answers, but I’ve been reflecting, and I feel there are some important ones that we’ve overlooked. 

What if we were to think about[...]

MEN: We See You Too

Let’s imagine the following scenario together: a friend is telling you about a co-worker they have who was recently assaulted by their spouse. Your friend explains that over the weekend, their co-worker had to be admitted to the hospital after a fight between the co-worker and their spouse escalated to physical violence. Your friend was shocked to learn this as they always thought that their co-worker had such a[...]

A Difficult Discussion on Trauma

Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Avicii. Tyler Honeycutt. You may or may not recognize these names and you may or may not see the connection between them.

Each one is a celebrity, but all have something much greater in common. All these people have committed suicide this year.

Suicide is a difficult subject for many and rightfully so. It is hard to understand how a person could take their own life. Family and friends are[...]

Human Trafficking -- What is Your Role in Helping Victims & Survivors?

Human Trafficking -- What is Your Role in Helping Victims & Survivors?

According to the Walk Free Movement 45.8 million people are enslaved worldwide. Nearly 1 in 3 victims of slavery are children. Over half of victims of slavery are women and children.  The National Human Trafficking Hotline has received 13,454 this year with 31 human trafficking cases being reported in Iowa.

The Advocates at the Iowa Domestic Violence & Victim Service Call Center are among the 8.3 million[...]

Resources Available to Survivors of Homicide

Resources Available to Survivors of Homicide

Families and friends of homicide victims experience a sudden traumatic, life changing loss. Homicide is not a normal, lifespan death or illness. It is a crime. Your loved one has been suddenly taken from you and now you must try to reorganize your life and go on.  

Coping with a violent death is always difficult. Iowa Homicide & Other Violent Crimes programs were developed with the mission to ensure survivors’ and[...]

What We Want Our Callers To Know

Since October 2015 we have received 4,862 incoming calls from victims. Not from one specific part of the state, not from one specific gender or ethnicity and not from one specific age group. Violence affects low and high income, all gender identities and ethnicities as well as the young and the old. Violence knows no boundaries. As advocates answering your phone call we want you to know the following things:


National Crime Victims' Rights Week

National Crime Victims' Rights Week

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) promotes victims’ rights every April, honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf, with the recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW).  This year’s theme – Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope. – presents the opportunity to highlight the importance of providing needed services at the earliest stages of[...]

Prevention is Possible: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The countdown is on! Only six more days before Sexual Assault Awareness Month begins. What a great opportunity for us all to put our focus on such an important topic. Let’s all join together to recognize the strength and courage of sexual assault victims and survivors, partner with each other to make our resources stronger and focus energy in sexual assault prevention.

Let’s start with defining what sexual[...]

Celebrating NO MORE Week (March 6-12)

NO MORE Week is a national grassroots activation aimed at making domestic violence and sexual assault prevention a priority year - round. March 6th kicked off the 2016 NO MORE Week of Action and the Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline (IDVH) is proud to participate in the week long activities! 

Below are a few statistics from the National Domestic Violence Helpline (
  • On average, 24 people per minute[...]

February -- Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Do you have a teenager that is starting to explore the world of dating? If so, it is important for you to be aware and to educate them about teen dating violence. According to the National Health Information Center more than 1 in 10 teens, who have been on a date, have been physically abused by their boyfriend or girlfriend. 

According to an article posted by Northwest Community Healthcare, teen dating violence is[...]


Working for the Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline has been a very rewarding, inspiring, and eye-opening opportunity for me.   I can honestly say that I was blind to how prevalent domestic violence really is. 

The training to become a Helpline Advocate was intensive and prepared me for the day we started taking calls.  Something that I hold onto from my training is that being an advocate doesn’t stop[...]

Domestic Violence Doesn't Take A Break For Holidays

The holiday season is upon us and most of us are busy with traditions, family gatherings and the joy that holidays bring.  But for many, the holidays continue on as any other day; with an all-encompassing fear and feelings of isolation.  Domestic violence doesn’t take a break for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other holidays.  It still persists for so many people. 

There’s a[...]