About the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline
Visit online.rainn.org to chat one-on-one with a trained RAINN support specialist, any time 24/7.
How can the Online Hotline help me?
Chat one-on-one with a RAINN support specialist to access a range of free services including:
- Confidential support from a trained support specialist
- Someone to help you talk through what happened
- Resources that can assist with your next steps toward healing and recovery
- Referrals for long term support in your area
- Information about the laws and resources in your community
What can I expect from a session?
The Online Hotline works like other instant messaging and online chat systems, but with enhanced security measures. You'll enter a private chat with a trained RAINN support specialist and chat live by typing messages back and forth. The service is completely anonymous and confidential—we will never ask you for any information that would identify who you are. You can feel free to share as much or as little as you like with us.
Who will I be chatting with?
It can be difficult to talk about what happened. You can take comfort in knowing that RAINN’s Online Hotline support specialists are trained to meet the unique needs of survivors. They are diverse group of people with different backgrounds and experiences, dedicated to offering support. RAINN carefully vets, trains, and monitors the performance of all staff members. In addition, each chat is overseen by a highly trained Online Hotline Supervisor to ensure all visitors have a positive and helpful hotline experience.
When you are done chatting with the support specialist, you have the opportunity to leave feedback for RAINN about your experience with the Online Hotline. We take these ratings and comments seriously. User feedback helps us to continuously improve the Online Hotline and offer a service that best fits our users’ needs.
Is it confidential?
RAINN has taken extensive measures to ensure that your Online Hotline interaction is safe and confidential. You’ll never be asked for personally identifying details, like your name, age, or location. To ensure your safety, RAINN has partnered with the country's top technology and online security companies to build a hotline that is as safe and secure as current technology allows.
There are four key steps we've taken to ensure the highest level of security:
- We never log a user's IP address. An IP address is sort of like your computer's mailing address. The Online Hotline never captures this data, so we cannot trace chats back to users.
- We do not save chat transcripts. Unlike email or other instant messaging platforms, which save information that can be accessed later, the Online Hotline does not keep the transcripts of chats. Without this record, there is no way for anyone to access conversations between users and RAINN support specialists.
- All data is encrypted. Every time someone hits “send,” the words are encrypted using the TLS protocol. This way, text cannot be intercepted and read in transit.
- Users are anonymous. The Online Hotline relies on anonymous routing methods that hide the connection between users and the RAINN support specialist via the use of unique codes. This makes all communication on the Online Hotline anonymous.
What can I do to make it safer?
We have done everything possible to ensure your safety and anonymity. However, the Online Hotline cannot entirely eliminate risk. There are some steps that you can take to increase your security:
- If you have safety concerns about your identity, you do not have to share personal information like your name, age, or location.
- Don’t record or store any chats on your computer.
- When the chat is over, clean your cache and history and then erase the cookies on your computer or mobile device, as long as you think doing so will not raise red flags or put you at risk.
- If you suspect your computer is being monitored, consider using a different device. Ask a trusted friend to borrow their computer or mobile device, or consider using the computer lab at a local public library.
Why was the Online Hotline created?
As the way we use technology continues to expand, RAINN’s support services are expanding, as well. In 2006, the Online Hotline was created as an extension of the National Sexual Assault Hotline, becoming the first online crisis intervention service in the United States. At the start, it was only available 2 hours per day, 2 days per week. Demand for sessions increased rapidly, and RAINN responded by expanding the service. Since 2008 the Online Hotline has been available 24/7 to help those affected by sexual violence. Trained RAINN support specialists operate the Online Hotline out of the Washington, DC and New York City metropolitan areas and have helped more than 300,000 users since its launch in 2006. Beginning in 2015, Online Hotline sessions have been available in Spanish as well as English.
Anyone affected by sexual assault, whether it happened to you or someone you care about, can find support from online.rainn.org. You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with someone over the phone who can help.