In this issue, we highlight a visit to the White House and a new Family Violence Unit.

SafePlace, Austin

SafePlace Expect Respect Director, Barri Rosenbluth, had the distinct honor of attending a poolside reception at the Vice President’s residence on September 13th to commemorate the 17th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, welcomed guests and expressed their continuing commitment to end violence against women and girls. Among the approximately 150 attendees were family members who had lost loved ones to dating and domestic violence, members of Congress, advocates representing various local, state and national organizations, and youth.

Vice President Biden spoke passionately to the young people in the audience, encouraging them to reach out to peers involved in abusive relationships. Reiterating a message he had recorded earlier in the day on his website, the Vice President said, “Speak up and act and make it clear that violence against women will not be tolerated at your school, on your campus, at any time, for any reason.”

While the Violence Against Women Act has reduced domestic violence by 50 percent since its inception in 1994, according to Vice President Biden, rates of dating and sexual violence among young people have increased. In national surveys, one in 10 teens last year reported being physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend and one in five young women had been sexually assaulted in college. In response to these alarming statistics, the Vice President launched 1 is 2 Many, a campaign targeting youth ages 16-24. He is asking young people to share their ideas for preventing dating violence and sexual assault at http://www.whitehouse.gov/1is2 many.

Barri reflects on her visit, “As I stood just feet away from the Vice President in his back yard, watching the gentle movement of our flag beside him in the night air, and listening to him speak the words prevention, engaging bystanders, changing attitudes and promoting healthy relationships, I was proud of our accomplishments and full of hope for the future.”

SafePlace is a Category 1 member.  For more information, click here.

Belton Police Department, Belton

When officers respond to family violence calls, they have a protocol for dealing with offenders but often are not sure how to help victims.  The Belton Police Department has a new partner in responding to family cases, the Family Violence Unit.   It is one of the many projects of the Central Texas Family Violence Task Force, which attempts to create a multi-disciplinary, community coordinated response to family violence.  Police officers can call on volunteers from the unit to come and reach out to victims.  The unit was started by volunteers who want to make sure victims are supported and know about available resources.

The unit is currently seeking volunteers.  For more information, click here.