With domestic abuse calls down during COVID-19, hotline offers new way for victims to get help

Women Helping Women adds discreet chat and text
Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 18:41:42-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

CINCINNATI - Calls for help from domestic abuse are down during the COVID 19 crisis, and Women Helping Women believes that's because victims are now trapped inside with their abusers and too afraid to reach out.

So Women Helping Women launched a chat and text option to their abuse hotline on Tuesday.

“We’re really concerned about survivors during this pandemic,” said Kristin Shrimplin, president and CEO.

Shrimplin said a desperate phone call might not happen with an abuser constantly within earshot.

“Their ability to get out and to go to different resources has become even more limited,” Shrimplin said of abuse victims.

Casey Frazee Katz, director of services, said the new chat and text option will be safer for victims.

“If the abusive partner walks in, that might look strange if they hung up the phone really quickly," Katz said. "But with a text or chat, it’s much easier to be discreet or say they were just looking up something on their phone,”

Shrimplin said her organization wanted to implement the new features for about a year and the current health crisis was the impetus for making it happen.

“We were hoping it would help with both privacy and safety and be a more discreet way to reach out and get help,” Shrimplin said.

Here's how it works:

Women looking for help text the number 513.381.5610. From there, advocates at Women Helping Women will try to respond within minutes.

“That person who reaches out just lets our advocate know what they need,” Katz said.

Women Helping Women has always had a hotline and the organization said it saw a spike in calls by roughly 30% at the beginning of March. However, calls decreased when the stay-at-home order went into effect.

The text and chat features are available any time of the day and will continue as a regular resource for victims looking for help from Women Helping Women.

“We’re just hoping that survivors will be able to use this now more than ever so that we can give them something at their fingertips for safety,” Shrimplin said.

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.