Vice President Biden Visits the National Domestic Violence Hotline to Recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Hotline Receives its Three-Millionth Call
As Domestic Violence Awareness Month drew to a close, Vice President Biden paid a visit to the headquarters of the National Domestic Violence Hotline on Wednesday, October 30. Alongside Vice President Biden was Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence against Women, Bea Hanson, Acting Director of the Office on Violence against Women in the Department of Justice, and Marylouise Kelley, Director of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, in the Administration for Children and Families. Mariska Hargitay, advocate and actress from the NBC television drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” also joined the Vice President.
The Vice President’s visit was particularly meaningful, as the National Domestic Violence Hotline was authorized in 1994 through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Then a Senator, Vice President Biden led the country in transforming how we recognize and respond to the victimization of women and girls as VAWA’s original author. Together with the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), passed in 1984, VAWA created a coordinated community response to protect the vulnerable, empower survivors, and hold perpetrators accountable. Operating 24 hours, 7 days a week to provide free and confidential support to victims of domestic violence, the Hotline is often the first point of contact for individuals fleeing abuse, and a cornerstone of the coordinated community response. Since 1996, the Hotline has been funded through FVPSA.
This year, the Hotline answered its three-millionth call. Each month, Hotline advocates respond to more than 22,000 callers from across the country, providing compassionate support, crisis intervention and referral services in over 170 languages. More than simply a phone number, the Hotline connects callers to locally accessible emergency shelter and advocacy resources, working within the FVPSA network of 1,600 domestic violence shelters and 1,100 victim assistance programs.
For his third visit in 7 years, the Vice President met with advocates working at the Hotline and announced the new chat line, which will enable more survivors to reach help, faster. Katie Ray-Jones, the Hotline President, explained that about 30% of calls come from the Internet, and that having a chat function will allow more immediate access. Despite the promise of the new chat line, however, funding support for additional advocates to answer calls is needed to reduce the nearly 55,000 dropped calls each month—a result of callers giving up after waiting for an advocate to pick up the line. Vice President Biden acknowledged this gap in service caused by inadequate funding, and spoke forcefully about the need to provide the Hotline with additional support, so that no one is turned away from the lifesaving help they deserve.
The Vice President’s dedication to the work of the Hotline was matched weeks earlier by President Obama, who signed a Presidential Proclamation in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Though October has now passed, the Family Violence Prevention and Service Program is proud to contribute to the impactful work of the National Domestic Violence Hotline every day of the year.