National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1.800.656.HOPE
At any given moment, more than 1,100 trained volunteers are on duty and available to help victims at RAINN-affiliated crisis centers across the country.
How does the National Sexual Assault Hotline work?
The concept behind the hotline is simple. When a caller dials 1.800.656.HOPE, a computer notes the area code and first three digits of the caller's phone number. The call is then instantaneously connected to the nearest RAINN member center. If all counselors at that center are busy, the call is sent to the next closest center. The caller's phone number is not retained, so the call is anonymous and confidential unless the caller chooses to share personally-identifying information.
Why was the hotline set up this way?
When RAINN was founded, we surveyed the directors of dozens of rape crisis centers and state and national anti-sexual assault organizations as well as many victims of sexual violence. The advice was unanimous: The best support services for rape, sexual assault and incest victims are those offered at community rape treatment centers.
Each local center is the best resource for victims in its community, not only for counseling but also for information about community resources and emergency protocols. In addition, because rape and sexual assault laws vary by state, local centers are in the best position to advise survivors on the legal aspects of the crime.
RAINN found that while local centers were well equipped to handle the counseling, the lack of a national hotline meant that the issue did not receive as much attention as it should. As a result, RAINN developed a unique national hotline system — one that combines all the advantages of a national organization with all the abilities and experience of local programs. It was the country's first decentralized national hotline, and has since been emulated by many other organizations.
Thanks to private sector collaboration, RAINN and rape crisis centers have been able to work together to raise awareness of local services and help rape, sexual violence and incest survivors receive the best possible care.
Are hotline calls completely confidential?
RAINN does not have any record of a caller's phone number or name. Callers always have the choice of whether or not to share their real name or phone number with counselors; they are never obligated to reveal this information. In other words, we will know who you are only if you choose to tell us.
If a caller is under age 18 and chooses to share personally-identifying information with the counselor, most states require the counselor to notify authorities of the sexual assault of a minor. Only in this situation — when a minor calls and chooses to reveal identifying information — does the pledge of confidentiality not apply.
While almost all callers are connected directly to a counselor, a handful of our local affiliates use an answering service after regular business hours. In these cases, callers may choose to leave a phone number with the answering service, in which case the number will be confidential and will be given directly to a counselor to call back. Or, callers may choose to call back during business hours, when they will be connected directly.
How can I volunteer with the hotline?
Hotline volunteers are all associated with a rape crisis center in their area. Search our counseling centers database to find a center in your area. Once you've located your local center, contact their business office or visit their website to get more information about volunteering at that center.
How can my center become a part of the National Sexual Assault Hotline?
RAINN and its affiliated centers shall not discriminate against any individual for reasons of race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, sex, age, language, disability or political identification. Accordingly, equal access to employment opportunities and services is extended to all persons.