On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden — who in 1994 sponsored the Violence Against Women Act — visited Texas’s National Domestic Violence Hotline Center:

Through his work on the issue, he said, he has learned that seven out of 10 homeless children are homeless because their mother is a victim of domestic violence and that 70 percent of women who go to a hospital emergency room are there because of physical abuse from male partners.

Money from the federal economic stimulus package is being made available to the National Domestic Violence Hotline Center and a teen abuse dating hotline, he said. The investment helps saves hospital costs incurred by abused women and addresses the problems of dysfunctional families and children from abusive families who may grow up to abuse themselves, he said.

Recognizing domestic violence as a public health issue, Schweitzer Fellows across the country are taking creative — and effective — steps to combat it:

  • Carly Chornobil, a Master of Public Health candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and a 2009-2010 Greater Philadelphia Area Schweitzer Fellow, will be working with women at Northern Philadelphia’s Women Against Abuse (WAA) house. Victims of domestic violence often suffer from a number of chronic health problems including depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases; additionally, they may have difficulty managing other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.
    Through working with the shelter’s women to improve their ability to self-manage their own health, Carly hopes to increase their quality of life, and stem the tide of domestic violence-induced ripple effects. Her paradigm sets a framework for clients at the shelter, as well as other members of the Philadelphia community, to follow.
  • Svenya Elackatt, a student of University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Nursing and a 2008-2009 Chicago Schweizter Fellow, developed a program to raise awareness and fight the threat of domestic violence for children and other family members at Family Shelter Services in Wheaton, IL.
  • Rich McPherson of the Wake School of Law, a 2009-2010 North Carolina Schweitzer Fellow, will be working with the Children’s Law Center of Central North Carolina to provide direct advocacy for children in high-conflict custody and domestic violence cases, serving as the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for the children. He will also create a training program and standards for the GALs serving children in both high-conflict custody and domestic violence cases, and compile a community resource book that he will distribute to other child advocates.
  • Amanda George of Vermont Law School, a 2009-2010 New Hampshire-Vermont Schweitzer Fellow, will work with existing NH and VT domestic violence resources and middle/high schools to create and implement educational programs targeting teen dating violence. She’ll use age appropriate classroom activities and open discussion to raise awareness and help empower teens in abusive dating relationships.

Countless other Schweitzer Fellows are channeling their idealism into preventing domestic violence and assisting and empowering its victims — visit www.schweitzerfellowship.org for more info.