The National Football League is partnering with the National Domestic Violence Hotline to help provide the nonprofit with the resources needed to handle as many callers as possible, since the hotline has seen a uptick in call volume with the publicity surrounding the cases involving league players.
“We are really excited about NFL’s commitment to assist Hotline financially, promotionally and with resources,” says Katie-Ray Jones, president and chief executive of the Hotline. She said the nonprofit will be able to hire more advocates for its partnership with Break the Cycle, loveisrespect, which is geared toward helping teens through domestic and dating violence.
“We’re staffing today. The NFL asked us to move quickly. We made some staff full-time who weren’t before, adding six advocates,” says Ray-Jones. Over the next few days, the Hotline plans to add five more advocates and 20 more over the next two to three weeks. New advocates have to complete 40 hours of extensive training.
After TMZ released a video on Sept. 8 showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in a hotel elevator, the Hotline received 84 percent more calls. Call volume rose each time more domestic violence charges against NFL players hit the news. According to a press release from the Hotline, the nonprofit was unable to answer almost 50 percent of the chats, calls and texts received during these surges. In 2013, the Hotline was unable to answer 77,000 callers because it lacked the staff to do so.
After hearing about the connection between the stress on the Hotline and the NFL players involved in domestic violence, the league committed to supporting the Hotline.
The NFL was taken to task for initially suspending Rice for only two games over the February incident. It wasn’t until after TMZ leaked additional security camera footage, showing the actual beating of Janay Palmer, who is now Rice’s wife, that Rice was cut from the Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the league. That still didn’t quell the critics, who have called for the NFL to institute a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence and for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign.
Questions also were raised about the NFL’s insistence that no one in the organization had seen the full security tape until TMZ leaked it, and the independent investigation into the matter was criticized for not being all that, well, independent. Also, other NFL players were arrested for domestic violence.
Now, the NFL seems to be trying to change the narrative as quickly as possible. On Monday, the league, which has not had much gender diversity within its upper management in the past, hired four women to create new polices on sexual assault and domestic violence for the organization. And Goodell scheduled a news conference at 3 on Monday afternoon to discuss the league’s personal conduct policy.
“Our decision to enter into a long-term partnership with the NFL will help us immediately increase our ability to hire additional advocates, improve our infrastructure and provide more education about domestic violence that affects one in four women and one in seven men in their lifetimes,” Maury Lane, chair of the board of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, said in a press release.
Given those statistics, Ray-Jones is most excited about the NFL’s commitment to increase awareness, leveraging its partnerships to “let men and women across the country know that they can get help and support.”