Originally Posted by Emme
I was in an abusive relationship at one stage and one night I rang a well-known helpline after months of emotional abuse and a bout of physical abuse. I was living with the abusive bf at the time.
The man on the helpline (he sounded like a middle-aged man) asked was I married to the man who was abusing me. I said I was not and that he was my bf.
The helpline operator then asked if I slept with my bf. I said I did, we were living together.
He then said to me that the abuse was my fault for sleeping with my bf without being married and he treated me that way because I had no respect for myself.
I was too browbeaten from the abuse to realise that the helpline operator was completely out of line and probably a pervert to boot. I should have reported him but I didn't and at that time (the mid 90s) they may not have recorded calls.
Goodness knows how many problems this man got off on and how many callers' trust he abused. That call put me into a worse hole than I was in already. If I had told him I was married he probably would have told me I was getting abused because I didn't obey my husband.
Ever since then I do not trust helplines and I would not call one. OP how are helpline operators monitored now? How are they screened? I take it the organisation can monitor calls better with technology thank goodness.
Like Gloomtastic, I find your experience shocking. I find the actions of that volunteer disgusting and in noo way defensible. He should not have been on the phones. Any user of a helpline should not have been exposed to someone like that. Someone who would verbally abuse people in a vulnerable position (or not).
Every service that I am aware of that take complaints seriously. They often rely on users to submit complaints, or on other volunteers to raise the behaviour of people like this. Not all services record calls. I agree with you that technology can be used to monitor calls better, however how much calls are monitored varies wildly between services (as I understand).
Personally, I have reported complaints from callers about other volunteers. Each one has been reported to management. Nothing I have seen would come as close to the sickening behaviour of that volunteer. Which raises the question- are callers more likely to call back with a complaint if what they are complaining about is less "extreme" that the experience you have shared? If that is true, then maybe all helplines demonstrate they have better techniques to monitor calls than relying on service users to report it. It is certainly food for thought for me.
After your experience it is no wonder you don't trust helplines. If you do end up getting in contact with one again I hope that experience is worlds different than the one you have shared.
Thank you for sharing.