A Crisis of Care: The Politics and Therapeutics of a Rape Crisis Hotline


This article explores the politics and contingencies of care provided to survivors of sexual assault on a rape crisis hotline in the U.S.’s mid‐Atlantic region. The support provided to survivors on the hotline represents a crisis of care, one fomented by the victim services sector’s failure to address the limitations of a crisis‐oriented paradigm or survivors’ chronic trauma. The tension between the survivor‐centered model of the hotline and the mental health needs of clients represents a friction of utility—a misalignment between the care hotline advocates provide and the support survivors seek. The anonymous care and internal contradictions of the hotline also results in high rates of vicarious trauma for advocates. Given the polysemic dimensions of care exhibited on the hotline, the service represents a form of negative care, one that accounts for gaps in survivors’ care yet still fails to empower proactive means of recovery.