(WTNH) – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and all month long, News 8 is going to be highlighting the survivors of abuse and the resources that can help.

News 8 is taking a look inside the key first step for thousands trying to get out of abusive relationships.

Often, the phone calls that go into the Interval House Domestic Violence Hotline Call Center change lives for the better. Interval House is the biggest agency in the state dedicated organization to helping victims of domestic violence.

“It can be very, very quiet for hours at a time, and then the phones just start ringing,” said Mary-Jane Foster, President & CEO of Interval House.

Mary-Jane Foster is the President and CEO of Interval House. Last year, the hotline phones rang more than 4,100 times, which is up 57% since 2020.

“Probably the majority of our calls are from people who don’t understand what’s happening to them,” Foster said. “Suddenly, things have gone very wrong and they don’t know why.”

“My mother was a strong woman and go out,” said Mercedes Johnson. “Because she’s a strong woman that made me strong enough to want to help someone get out of the situation.”

Mercedes Johnson, a domestic violence advocate, has been answering calls at Interval House for 8 years. She helps people, mostly women, come up with a safety plan to help them get out of bad situations when it’s safe.

Johnson says the phones are busiest in the afternoon, usually just after 3 p.m.

“Maybe when they are out there picking up the kids from school, they decided they want to call, so that’s when the phone calls start coming in,” Johnson said.

Marlene Harris also answers hotline calls. Thirteen years ago, she was on the other end of the line. She called looking for help to get out of an abusive relationship.

“The advocate on the other end was calm,” Harris said. “I remember feeling calmer after speaking with her. She told me she would hold my bed for 24 hours for myself and my children, which she did, and I left the following morning and never looked back.”

If you are a victim of domestic violence and you need to know where to find help or just need someone to talk to, the CT Safe Connect hotline will put you in contact with a certified domestic violence advocate in your area.

Calls are confidential and a call doesn’t mean police will show up. If you or someone you know needs help, call 888-774-2900.