Intimate partner violence is a choice.

People who have perpetrated domestic abuse—or who aren’t sure whether they’ve crossed the line—have not had a lot of options for seeking help. But there is a confidential toll-free helpline, (877) 898-3411, that they can call.

A Call for Change, based in Massachusetts, is a helpline—not a hotline—”for people who want to stop using abuse and control in their intimate relationships. The Helpline is also for family, friends and professionals who want to help them stop. People who are unsure about their behavior can also call the Helpline.”

According to A Call for Change’s website, operators are well-versed in a range of intimate partner violence issues, including teenagers and LGBTQ partners, and have completed 40 hours of training prior to taking calls.

Callers do not have to give their names, which allows them to speak frankly. However, if a caller does identify themselves in connection with a crime, “the Helpline will follow legal duty to report requirements.”

The people who answer the phone offer nonjudgmental support for callers who genuinely want to change their behaviors and are willing to explore their thought patterns underlying their reactions. “Change is hard and requires long-term, daily, often life-long effort and commitment,” the organization notes. “People working on change are encouraged to call the Helpline as often as needed and are encouraged to attend Intimate Partner Abuse Education Programs.”

What is intimate partner abuse?

According to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, which serves survivors of domestic abuse, it is “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” Abuse can take different forms: financial, emotional, spiritual, physical, sexual. Men or women, straight or LGBTQ+ people, religious people or atheists, rich or poor people can learn—and unlearn—abusive behaviors:

The Power and Control Wheel shows different kinds of intimate partner abuse that men perpetrate. However, women also can perpetrate intimate partner abuse. It’s not the person’s gender, age, or sexual orientation, but the person’s behaviors, that constitute abuse. A Call for Change says that abusers can change their behaviors—if they are willing to commit to changing.

Abuse survivors may wonder whether the helpline is enabling abusers. According to the website, “Staff are trained to never collude with, minimize, blame-shift or ignore abuse. They focus on a caller’s choice to control and abuse, and the caller’s underlying values which give them permission to hurt others. They help callers hold themselves accountable to values and choices that are safe and respectful.”

Additional helplines available for domestic abuse survivors and military families seeking help with reintegration.

A Call for Change is open 365 days per year from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time. Voicemails will be returned within 24 hours. The helpline also offers translation and is 711 Relay friendly. You also can e-mail if you prefer.

Read A Call for Change’s FAQ Page at

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If you are the victim of a domestic abuser, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233), text START to 88788, or chat live at anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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