Every 9 Seconds (1997) Gail O’Grady, Emily Hampshire, Amy Pietz.
Your abusive husband: Should you kill him? Lifetime is ambivalent. Pt. 1 in a series.
A woman (Janet) whose abusive husband (Richard) just got out of prison on early release and came by earlier that day to menace her and demand to see their daughter calls the world’s worst domestic violence hotline. He’s coming back later, and she’s planning to kill him when he shows up! Since obviously there is no need to do any background or reference checks on persons applying to work on a domestic violence hotline, the “volunteer” who answers the would-be murderess’ call is actually a reporter (Carrie) doing a story on spousal abuse. She resolves to find this woman and stop her before it’s too late! Her supervisor explains that she won’t trace the call because calls are supposed to be confidential. Carrie craftily waits until the supervisor’s back is turned before running out of the office and to her car.
Janet mentioned the name of liquor store where she’d be picking up her next fifth of vodka, so Carrie does manage to find her. Then there’s a lot of chasing around and heartfelt pleading and the inevitable scene of Janet holding the gun on Richard but being unable to pull the trigger, so he just grabs it away from her. It turns out to take a surprisingly large amount of screen time to explain while nobody can call the police during all this in the age of the cell phone (Carrie left her cell phone at home that day, all payphones are out of order, 911 was “busy,” Richard breaks the house phone, etc. etc. Then once Carrie manages to call the hotline at least, it turns out it will take “upwards of an hour” to trace the call because it’s “coming from another district.*)
Then there’s some more chasing around, and we end up with Richard on the roof of the building where the daughter had been hiding, threatening to throw Janet off. Carrie talks him into letting her go, then talks him into not killing himself. It turns out, her own father beat her mother to death, then killed himself. Tearfully, she says, “Everybody acted like he was better off dead, but nobody knew that I still needed him! I still needed my father!” So he doesn’t kill himself and allows himself to be arrested.
Meanwhile, intercut with all this, another volunteer attempts to convince another caller not to go out with her scary boyfriend again, but she goes anyway, and he rapes and beats her badly enough to put her in the hospital. Naturally the volunteer staff all show up at her bedside. Carrie is sorry she missed the calls. “It’s okay, you can’t catch ‘em all” her supervisor says. But apparently you can always track them down!
*Probably a Lifetime fact.
Lifetime Rating: **