This complaint is to be written in two parts. The first part will describe a specific incident where the “Call to Safety” representative gave inaccurate information, to a distressed caller lost in the dark. The second part will describe the (dis)organization as a whole, and give a handful of examples of why all donors should immediately pull funds from Call to Safety. Part 1 One night, I was stranded in the dark around 11:00 p.m. in a big city. I needed directions to get back to where I was headed, and was unfamiliar with the buses and trains in the area. So, I called this line. I got a lecture, and was told it was only for ‘domestic and sexual violence.’ So, anyone experiencing a ‘crisis’ but not an ‘in the moment, I have two black eyes’ kind of crisis, is written off. So, if you are say scared in the dark, feared walking down an alley that you may be mugged- you will get a ‘lecture’ as opposed to a present human being. A lecture about what the line does and doesn’t do etc. No one wants to hear a lecture when scared. No one deserves to hear a lecture when scared. When I called, I was scared and needed to talk with someone while I walked alone in the dark. I derailed the woman lecturing, and asked if she could please help me with directions. She agreed. As I patiently waited on the other end, the woman gave me two directions that were incorrect. I know this because I remember the buses enough to know what ones run late, and what ones do not. I knew for a fact there was a night bus that was still running, I just did not know the exact times. I gave her the most possible information I knew. When she gave me such false infomation, I felt as if I were in a foreign country. How could someone be so disconnected from their own city? The worker, unfamiliar with the bus system, said that the night bus I mentioned ended at a certain station. I was 100% sure it went on several more miles thereafter, and could get me to the destination. She argued with me, while I was in the dark and scared. I did not feel like she was warm, confident, or helpful. Later, I would learn my gut was correct. I inquired into if she could assist with a taxi service. She stated no. I had to hop on a bus because I was scared in the dark, so I racked my brain for any route I could think of to get me to a popular exchange station. I later learned when I got to the popular exchange station, that the night bus would be arriving in 30 minutes. When I had called the woman on this line, while I was initially at the night bus station – it was to arrive in less than 10 minutes! She sent me on a wild goose chase. The next morning, I relayed to someone on the line who goes by “Lisa” the scenario. She stated that, “well, maybe she didn’t know she was giving inaccurate information.” Lisa proceeded to state that their line is not for, “giving directions.” In reality, she did not see that it is preventative to give directions to help people, so they do not end up in dangerous situations. Thus, this crisis line is only set up to further traumatize people while already ‘in crisis’ as opposed to help people prevent a bad situation from occurring, by giving directions or walking and talking with someone while she is scared. When afraid, a person is more likely to make a rash decision (maybe take a ride from a stranger, hitchhike) which could lead to violence. Giving someone directions so she can get home safely is a preventative measure that “Lisa” claims Call to Safety is not designed to help with. When I refuted her defense against the incompetent worker, I indicated that most people can learn very quickly how to read a public bus schedule. I gave examples of how helping someone with directions could be life saving etc. “Lisa” never apologized or acknowledged that it is preventative to help a scared woman in the dark get to her destination. Part II The only type of ‘violence’ this place deals with is ‘intimate partner violence.’ I called due to two separate violent landlord situations at different times. I was berated and often lectured because the ‘violence’ I experienced from the landlord was not from a significant other. Some incidences included: landlord modifying property to make it unlivable, landlord making threats to harm me/ my property, landlord calling me derogatory names and so forth. The best this place has to offer is to send vulnerable women to a homeless shelter. Homeless shelters are unsafe, and have theft. Homeless shelters are crammed, and crowded and often allow people inside who are intoxicated. While drinking may be prohibited in some, homeless shelters still let in intoxicated and drug dependent persons, so long as the activity did not occur on their premises. When I relayed these types of examples to whomever would answer the Call to Safety line, I would sometimes get hung up upon. Other times, the worker would abruptly say, “is there anything else I can help you with, we have other callers.” Not one worker ever acknowledged that sending a woman into a homeless shelter would be dangerous. When I inquired into motel or hotel funding which they advertise, I was told by each worker there is no funding. When I asked for a solution, then, with regards to my violent landlord, I would often get a, “have you called 211?”. Additionally a Call to Safety worker would direct me to what are known as “warming shelters” in the city – where people go inside and sleep on a mat on a dirty gymnasium floor. Sometimes those places frisk people who enter, and depending on the facility, the place may confiscate your belongings and not allow you to have your own personal stuff. In the meantime the staff at the places may go through your stuff. You lose a lot of rights upon entry. This is the best Call to Safety can do? I tried to relay to multiple persons on the other end that “you are telling someone to trade one bad situation for another.” I explained that it is better to be with one aggressor (landlord who lived in the house) than a bunch of strangers, some of who may have just walked in right off the street. No one had anything useful to offer me. Their version of safety planning is “call 211.” I am not even joking. No one had the mental capacity to talk with me about potential scenarios or give any “if this than do that” kind of helpful suggestions. Most I could tell were completely inexperienced with regards to actually living life. Many were young women, in their early 20s. Sometimes, I asked, “so, have you ever been to a homeless shelter?” I would always get a “no.” How could you advise someone on something you have never seen? Let’s just say I have gone into those places, and have eye witnessed what they look like inside. I will leave it at that. I can describe in detail to you what they look like inside, yet no Call to Safety worker would be able to do so. I have gone into the battlefield and have seen horrors, yet none of the Call to Safety workers can say the same. Many are middle class young ‘women’ whose parents paid for their entire college education. Very ‘first world problems’ kind of people. It was a complete waste of time calling here. Call to Safety offers false hope to people in crisis, and further traumatizes people who need help by getting the person to divulge their most intimate fears for a recommendation to a homeless shelter. Often, I would be asked, “can you describe a little bit of what you are going through?” And, then be preyed upon with the 211 speil. Call to Safety workers are energy vampires who suck all the deepest parts of your heart and soul, gain your trust, and then give you NOTHING in return. I now see what men have to go through every day, trying to ‘date’ women. Sheesh.
This review (Call to Safety Portland Women’s Crisis Line) was originally published at Holy Smoke !.
To read the full review, go to –