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In Austin, Biden Announces Funding for Domestic Abuse Hotline

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News
Vice President Joe Biden visited the headquarters of the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin on Oct. 30, 2013.

Vice President Joe Biden visited Austin today to announce that the underfunded 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline will be getting more dollars.

He helped create the hotline when the Violence Against Women Act that he sponsored in Congress was passed in 1994. 

Since 1996, "in most cases, the voice a woman in distress hears is yours -- the folks here in Austin, Texas," he told a small, packed room of activists, stakeholders and staff. "They're prisoners in plain sight. And the only voice so many of them hear is the people at the other end of the line here."

Those who answer the phones are unable to take all of the calls that come in, however. But with more funding, they'll be able to do more.

"Victims will now be able to reach the hotline online as well as over the phone. It doesn’t make up the whole difference but the combination of Eric [Holder] finding $500,000 and Verizon coming up with $250,000, we can keep this alive and keep building," Biden said.

He’s referring there to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has made money available for the National Dating Abuse Helpline, which falls under the hotline. Biden says violence against women 14 to 24 years old is up nationally.

Some women don't feel comfortable making calls to seek help. Money from Verizon will enable an Internet chat service for those seeking help online.

Federal funding provides about 70 percent of the budget needed to operate the hotline. It  requires roughly $3. 5 million to operate each year.

Last year, the hotline received about 265,000 calls. Texas produces 12 percent of those calls -- the second most amount after California.