Fast Exit

December 6, 2023 Dec 06, 2023 3 min read

What to Expect When Calling a Hotline

If you’re considering calling a hotline or crisis line but don’t quite know what to expect, this list is for you. The following list of facts applies to hotlines, support lines, and crisis lines that serve victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

To find a crisis line now, use the Go Thrive Go search tool.

Hotlines are confidential

The only exception to this is if you share information about active child abuse. In this case, crisis line workers are legally obligated to report the information to the authorities. Otherwise, anything you share via a domestic violence or sexual assault hotline will be kept entirely confidential. 

Hotlines are staffed by trained volunteers or social workers

While many are volunteers, crisis line workers receive extensive training and education to prepare them to provide effective, informed support to domestic violence and sexual assault victims and survivors. Any time you’re calling a hotline for support, you can trust that the person on the other hand has been specially trained to help people in your situation.

Hotline staff are compassionate, knowledgeable, and non-judgmental

Don’t worry about being judged when calling a hotline. The person who answers your call has been specially trained to create a compassionate and non-judgemental atmosphere for callers. Keep in mind that the vast majority of people who work or volunteer for support hotlines do it because they’re passionate about supporting victims and survivors. Many of them are even survivors themselves.

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You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to

Hotlines and crisis lines exist solely to provide support to victims and survivors, and they do not require any specific information from callers. You don’t even have to tell them your name if you don’t want to.

It’s okay to be nervous or shy

Don’t worry about having to be talkative when you call a support hotline. It’s normal to feel shy or nervous at first, and the person you speak with will understand if you need some time to open up. 

There’s usually no time limit

Don’t feel self conscious about speaking at length. Hotlines don’t typically impose time limits, and most operate 24/7.

Hotline staff can provide information and referrals

A big part of what hotline workers do is provide emotional support to callers. However, they can also provide information and referrals to critical resources. For example, if you need information about emergency housing, counselling services, or support groups in your area, calling a hotline is a great way to get this information.

You might be put on hold or have to call back

One of the unfortunate realities of calling a hotline or crisis line is that they tend to be extremely busy. While hold times are typically short, it’s a sad truth that some calls go unanswered.


If you can’t get through when calling a hotline, try hanging up and calling again. You can also try calling a different hotline. For information about hotlines serving your area, use the Go Thrive Go search tool.

For more on this topic, check out our “Quick Guide to Basic Services and Resources for Survivors.”

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