Vice President Joe Biden will be in Austin today, visiting the National Domestic Violence Hotline headquarters and commemorating National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The hotline was authorized in 1994 as part of VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act, and operates 24 hours a day to provide free and confidential support to victims of domestic violence. They also now offer a live chat service.
Biden drafted the Violence Against Women Act as a Senator, which passed and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The next year, Republicans attempted to strip the act of funding. Since then many Republicans have led an all-out war on VAWA. Most recently, Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn voted against the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA.
Biden will also be joined by actress Mariska Hargitay, known to Law & Order: SVU fans as Detective Olivia Benson.
More below the jump about why VAWA is important and how many women in Texas suffer from domestic abuse.According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, in 2011 there were 177,983 incidents of family violence, in which 102 women were killed. The National Domestic Violence Hotline answered 207,510 calls in 2011.
The hotline is one of the programs funded through VAWA, which Republicans have repeatedly attempted to either defund or stop reauthorization. In 2012, Republicans opposed adding language protecting same-sex couples and undocumented women. It was finally reauthorized in February of this year.
The Texas Democratic Party released the following statement on Biden's visit from Communications Director, Tanene Allison:
“Domestic violence affects too many women and families in Texas. Vice President Biden has long served as a leader in the work to prevent such violence from occurring, and to give domestic violence survivors support in leaving abusive situations. We welcome the Vice President to Austin, and also welcome the attention he brings to the importance of the Violence Against Women Act and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.”