HCWC advocates for new domestic violence hotline
The Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center offers free and confidential services to women, men and children who are victims of family violence, dating violence, sexual assault and child abuse. In 2020, they served a total of 2,023 victims of abuse and reached 15,036 community members.
A press conference was held by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett on Tuesday in Austin regarding new federal domestic violence resources. Several speakers from various local services spoke of the importance of having resources including Melissa Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Hays-Caldwell Women's Center.
“We are in the process of developing some new programming,” Rodriguez said. “We are currently constructing a transitional housing apartment complex.”
One in four women and one in seven men experience domestic violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is the only national hotline that is dedicated to serving victims and survivors of domestic violence.
“One of the most difficult choices that the victims we serve make every day is choosing where are they going to go after they come into emergency shelter,” Rodriguez said. “Affordable housing is a real issue that they are confronting even pre-pandemic, post-pandemic has made it even more complicated.”
According to Rodriguez, there was a 52% increase in the length of stay numbers. Therefore, resources and funding are necessary to ensure the safety and security of those being served.
“I’m really excited that you're bringing on this prevention hotline for those who are choosing abuse and violence,” Rodriguez said. “We can’t tackle this issue just serving one end, we can’t. The only way we're going to make a change and a difference in ending violence is by providing the support.”
The new hotline would be specifically dedicated to those who are causing harm or the “perpetrators of violence.”
“We hope this is the beginning of something greater and bigger that we can collaborate with and together we can bring that end to that violence,” Rodriguez said.
Previously, the Hays County Commissioners Court declared the month of October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“While domestic violence happens 365 days a year, it’s an opportunity for us to increase awareness of the issue,” said Katie-Ray Jones, Chief Executive Officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Doggett also expressed his support for the hotline and various resources that assist with these issues.
“We’re celebrating the progress and we are recognizing domestic violence awareness month by providing some reinforcements, by providing some additional resources to get this job done,” Doggett said.
According to Doggett, funding increases have been secured for the hotline to include the program that would assist those that have caused domestic violence or fear that they might cause domestic violence.
“We have essentially, doubling the amount of money that goes to this hotline, $25 million in the bill we have approved in the House and that I think as Katie said has bipartisan support over in the Senate,” Doggett said.
Speakers at the event also included Darlene Lanham, Executive Director of the Asian Family Support Services of Austin, and Julia Spann, Co-CEO at The SAFE Alliance.
The official authorization of the hotline is under the Family Violence Prevention Services Act which is set to be approved by the U.S. House sometime next week.
For more information or resources within the county, visit www.hcwc.org/.