WASHINGTON, DC — Domestic violence victims who come to Greater Southeast Community Hospital's emergency room for treatment will be able to request and receive court-issued, temporary protective orders on-site thanks to an innovative new program that opened today, linking the hospital with D.C. Superior Court using video over the Internet.
The new Domestic Violence Southeast Intake Center pilot program is partially funded by a $2,500 grant from Verizon Wireless HopeLineSM, the company's nationwide initiative to raise awareness and aid in preventing domestic violence. The company also donated 20 wireless phones, programmed to speed-dial essential numbers, for emergency use by abuse victims.
"Last year, there were 3,738 temporary protection orders filed in the District of Columbia, and more are expected this year," said Kimberly Bullock, M.D., Medical Director of the Greater Southeast Intake Center's Medical Advocacy Program. "The Center will expedite and ease the often-daunting process victims of domestic violence have to endure in order to obtain temporary protection orders. By making this service available in a hospital setting, we can treat not only injuries sustained because of domestic violence, but its underlying cause."
The Intake Center will use a web camera to enable victims at the hospital who need protective orders to communicate directly with a judge in a downtown courtroom. The judge will use a similar camera and TV screen to see, hear and swear in the complainant.
The process is expected to eliminate many of the barriers that have often prevented battered victims from seeking protection from the court. Those barriers include leaving home or work, traveling downtown to the domestic violence intake center at the H. Carl Moultrie I Courthouse at 500 Indiana Avenue Northwest where parking spaces are few, and waiting for a hearing, especially on Mondays. As a result, many who've needed protection have declined to seek it.
According to published reports, most who petition the court for protective orders are women abused by husbands or boyfriends, and more than 60 percent of such petitions in the District come from Southeast Washington.
The new Center is sponsored by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Women Empowered Against Violence, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Police Department, Office of Corporation Counsel and the District of Columbia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
"As a company, Verizon Wireless is committed to putting our products, services and resources to work to help domestic violence victims break the cycle of violence and re-build their lives," said Patrick Devlin, regional president in Washington/Baltimore and Virginia. "Supporting the launch of this new initiative that harnesses technology to expedite justice is yet another way we can offer aid to domestic violence victims through our HopeLine program."
The company's exclusive HopeLine program accepts no longer used wireless phones in its 1,300-plus Communications Stores nationwide in any condition and from any wireless carrier. The phones are refurbished or recycled in an environmentally safe fashion. The proceeds fund donations to non-profit domestic violence service programs of wireless phones and airtime for emergency use by victims.
Verizon Wireless has collected more than 790,000 used wireless phones since 1995 to benefit domestic violence victims and advocacy groups. Since the HopeLine phone-recycling program launched nationwide in October 2001, the company has collected more than 320,000 phones.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 31.5 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com.
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