Document Type


Publication Date



This paper is my exploratory study of the interpersonal communication between domestic violence workers who answer crisis calls and the callers who seek help. I am focusing on the perception of those who answer the crisis lines. This is part of my on-going research into the meaning and experiences of the women who work against domestic violence. There are approximately 1,900 local domestic violence programs and state coalitions in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. This paper is based on the experiences of women working in one local program, CASA. I will briefly compare the CASA advocates work on the crisis line to communication practices and theories of crisis intervention by telephone. However, my primary goal is to present their stories in a way that will allow readers to understand the workers’ experiences and how they communicate those experiences. Following the workers’ narratives of I will offer my reflections on the narratives and on the way the workers communicate their experiences to me. There are two levels of interpersonal communication to be considered (1) the communication between workers and callers, (2) the communication between workers and me as they describe the crisis calls. In both it is apparent that the workers use stories as their way of knowing and communicating. They hear the stories of victims and they communicate their sense of their work and relationship with callers through stories. These domestic violence workers embody Robert Coles’ philosophy that stories are how we come to know our world, develop our identity and understand others. As a model of postmodern theory I see their communication as transactive not representational because “people understand through communication not prior to it” (Soukup, 1992, p.5).


Conference paper from SSCA (Southern States Communication Association), April 2002 Conference Panel, Winston Salem, NC, Dialogue Panel