Promoting Women’s Safety & Empowerment at the United State of Women Summit

Contributed by Lynn Rosenthal, vice president of strategic partnerships

Imagine 5,000 women and supportive men gathered in Washington, DC to celebrate the progress women have made and explore the challenges yet to come. That was the intense energy at last week’s United State of Women Summit convened by the White House Council on Women and Girls. Headlined by President Obama and Vice President Biden, the summit covered key gender equity issues including gender-based violence, women and the economy, entrepreneurship and innovation, and women’s leadership and civic engagement. Rob Valente, The Hotline’s chief officer of government affairs, and I represented The Hotline in both planning and presenting at the summit.

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National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

First Dating Abuse Texting Service Launches

On September 27,, a partnership between the National Dating Abuse Helpline and Break the Cycle, announced the nation’s first dating abuse texting service. Teens and 20-somethings can now ask questions about healthy relationships simply by texting “loveis” to 77054 to directly connect to a peer advocate.

Vice President Joe Biden premiered the service on September 26, sending the first text to peer advocate Whitney Laas, thanking advocates for their work to end dating abuse.

An additional feature of the brand’s re-launch is the updated website. The new site contains interactive quizzes as well as expanded information about LGBTQ dating, legal support and digital abuse. As always, the innovative online chat is still accessible through the website. Also as an added feature, young adults will now be able to receive services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The re-launch of was made possible by the Office on Violence Against Women, Liz Claiborne Inc., Healthy Kids Healthy Families and the Verizon Foundation. To learn more, please visit


White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Appointed

160x120_lynn_rosenthalLynn Rosenthal was recently chosen as White House Advisor on Violence Against Women by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Rosenthal has been a champion in the movement against domestic and sexual violence for three decades and played a key advocacy role in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. She currently serves as the Executive Director for the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence and and is a previous Executive Director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence and of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Rosenthal will advise President Obama and Biden, and work with government agencies including Justice, State, and Health to ensure that violence against women is addressed and the perpetrators are held accountable. Biden has said that creating the advisor position will allow the White House to revive its focus on domestic violence issues.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Vice President Joe Biden Visits the Hotline

joe-bidenVice President Joe Biden made a visit to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline on Tuesday April 28, 2009 for a press event and tour of the facilities. This was his second visit to the organizations in six years. The Office on Violence Against Women Acting Director Catherine Pierce and Austin Mayor Will Wynn joined the Vice President at this event.

Vice President Joe Biden’s support for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and his vision for safe families has been unwavering. Biden is the author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA). The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established in 1996 as a component of VAWA passed by Congress.

VAWA changed the way law enforcement and the legal system handled domestic violence cases. VAWA provided $1.6 billion to enhance investigation and prosecution of the violent crime perpetrated against women, increased pre-trial detention of the accused and imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted. Biden also helped accomplish the reauthorization of the Act in 2005.

Nearly six years ago, Senator Biden recruited a core group of the nation’s leading technology companies to visit the Hotline and listen first-hand to crisis calls. The result of Biden’s first visit to the Hotline was a $2.7 million plan to replace existing technology with new systems integrating telephone technology with new computer and database technology. The advanced technology has helped save the lives of thousands of women, children and families.


National Domestic Violence Hotline Unveils 10-Year Blueprint to Significantly Reduce Domestic Violence In America

Washington D.C. – The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), with support from the United States Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), unveiled today at the White House, a national blueprint to significantly reduce domestic violence by 2017. The Decade for Change Report is a culmination of four months of collective work by corporate, private and government leadership to develop bold ideas and unprecedented initiatives for preventing domestic violence in .

“Despite significant efforts over the past decade to address the problem of domestic violence in our country, 33 million American women continue to experience abuse every year,” said Sheryl Cates, NDVH chief executive officer. “As a society, we can and need to do more to stop the cycle of violence before it starts. The Decade for Change Report provides the unique opportunity to not only develop viable solutions for primary prevention, but importantly, it is the first step in creating a unified national movement to end domestic violence.”

“Collaboration is the key to changing attitudes and strengthening the resolve of individuals to end all abuse of women, youth and men,” said Mary Beth Buchanan, Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women. “OVW is proud to partner with the National Domestic Violence Hotline to raise awareness about teen dating violence and implement the national blueprint released today.”

More than 120 Summit panelists representing the public and private sectors, faith communities, domestic violence services, youth, state and federal officials, media, education, and medical/mental health professionals participated in a series of three Summit meetings over the course of the last year. The panelists were called on to provide experience and expertise from their respective fields with the ultimate goal of co-creating recommendations to address how various sectors/industries can participate to solve the problem of domestic violence.

“We realized that the challenge of stopping violence is not for women or advocates to solve alone,” continued Cates. “The goal of the Summit was to bring together a representation of all sectors of society to find common ground and bring a collaborative vision to address the issue of violence against women.”

Based on outcomes of the Summit, the Decade for Change Report focuses on four primary thematic areas: public awareness; education and training; organizing men as role models, and primary prevention focusing on ’s youth. The themes do not stand in isolation, but are interdependent in their approach to ending domestic violence. Among the many Report recommendations:

Theme One: Public Awareness

· Shift public opinion and attitudes as well as social norms that say it is okay to tolerate domestic violence to a national consensus that violence against women is unacceptable.

“Creating safe families and communities is something we should all strive to support. The Decade for Change effort creates a voice for those who need to be heard by working to eliminate domestic violence,” said Summit sponsor and panelist, Laysha Ward, vice president, community relations, Target.

Theme Two: Education and Training

· Professional education and training must be integrated into every system, both public and private, including school systems, health care settings; corporate , faith communities and the government.

· New and innovative models should be utilized. Work should be community driven, transformative and linked to certification and professional requirements as part of a universal prevention approach.

“Education can provide an understanding that mass public awareness does not,” said Summit sponsor, Jennifer Kuhn, program manager, The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Program. “Through targeted and consistent education, we can increase the individual capacity of family, friends, bystanders and neighbors to understand domestic violence and know how to respond and/or engage appropriate community and corporate resources.”

Decade for Change Report/page three

Theme Three: Outreach and Inclusion of Men

· Focus prevention efforts on men by bringing them into the work as role models and messengers to influence other men. Consider men and boys as an audience for awareness, information and services.

· Engage men by changing the language, and rather than compartmentalizing, create an understanding that all men have a role in preventing and ending domestic violence.

“We need to shape and deliver messages to all males by redefining gender roles and establishing new, positive culturally-sensitive male role models,” said Maury Lane, NDVH advisory board member and Summit panelist. “Simply put, positive male role models, who ignore the problem of domestic violence, ensure the continuation of a vicious cycle that has hurt so many women over so many years.”

Theme Four: Outreach to Youth

· Target primary prevention efforts at youth to affect developing values and opinions about domestic violence.

· Create a national youth advisory board to accommodate the rapidly changing youth culture.

“Despite girls’ empowerment programs and evolving gender roles, these efforts have not translated into healthy relationship expectations and behaviors,” said Summit panelist and sponsor, Lupita Reyes, national program director
Domestic Violence & Healthcare, Verizon Foundation. “Affecting a shift in attitudes among today’s youth can help break generations of unhealthy patterns and stop violence before it begins.”

While domestic violence is perpetrated against men, the Decade for Change Report is framed to address the larger problem of men’s violence against women in intimate relationships and how it impacts families, communities and the country.

“The best solution for our nation’s families is that they never experience violence in the first place,” said Cates. “It is our hope that the Decade for Change Report becomes a call to action to engage new partnerships and raise our collective voices to leave a lasting legacy of safety and respect within all American homes.”