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Honoring the Hotline's Life-Saving Work and the Leadership that Makes It Possible
Every once in a while we have to take a moment to truly appreciate the JOY in our lives and reflect on the opportunities and hope that surround us. I have just returned from the most amazing experience and wanted to share it with you, as all of you—our partners, supporters and the survivors we serve—have truly been in my heart.
On Wednesday, Mariska and I joined Vice President Biden on his trip to visit the headquarters of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) in Austin, Texas and commemorate National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Authorized in 1994 as part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Hotline operates around the clock to provide free and confidential support to victims of domestic violence, just recently answering its three millionth call. Our visit included a tour of the Hotline where we met with nearly 100 advocates and members of NDVH leadership, as well as its corporate funders. We also we watched a demonstration of the new online chat feature funded by Verizon, which expands the lines of communication for those seeking help and information in a digital world, or to anyone who may not have access to a phone or the privacy needed to make a phone call safely.
As many of you know, we at Joyful Heart have worked closely in partnership with NDVH for many years and provided Heal the Healers services to their leadership, staff and teen advocates who answer calls 24/7. NDVH is also a member of the NO MORE Steering Committee.
Joyful Heart has also been proud partners with Verizon for many years, most recently collaborating with them on the Your Voice Counts campaign, which engages men in ending domestic violence. Our work with Verizon began back in 2010, when we partnered with them on "Telling Amy’s Story," a powerful documentary that shares the story of Amy Homan McGee, whose life was tragically cut short when her husband shot her to death in her home while her parents and two small children looked on.
To date, 5.7 million people have watched the film and Verizon has trained more than 6,500 of their employees in offices and call centers across the country to recognize the signs of domestic violence, respond in the most compassionate and immediate ways and refer victims to life saving help. As Mariska said yesterday, they are literally lifelines to safety, hope and healing.
"I am deeply honored to join Vice President Biden in shining a light on the tremendous work being done by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a longtime partner of the Joyful Heart Foundation. The Hotline stands as an indispensable resource to help break the isolation that so many victims of domestic violence feel."
- Mariska Hargitay
Every day, we work to shed light into the darkness that surrounds the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. On Wednesday, that light shined brightly. I cannot tell you what an honor it was to watch the Vice President speak about the role that we all must play to empower survivors, and to help them heal and grow.
"I came primarily to say thank you...There's nothing I've been involved with my entire career that makes me prouder, that I think is more sustaining, is more consequential than the work you all do."
- Vice President Joe Biden
For all of us who have worked on these issues for so many years, it was an acknowledgement that we are not working in isolation. The highest levels of government are using their voices to call for an end of the violence and the silence that surrounds these issues.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do every day and for using your voice in our collective chorus. Today we all stood stronger together.