Austin-based domestic violence hotline boosts staffing after NFL partnership

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AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) – Greg Hardy’s suspension for his role in a domestic violence case was reduced from 10 games to four Friday and his agent said the Dallas defensive end might not be finished fighting the punishment.

Arbitrator Harold Henderson, who heard Hardy’s appeal, upheld NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to suspend Hardy. But he said the length was “simply too much” since the league had decided last year that suspensions in domestic cases would start at six games.

Hardy missed all but one game last season with Carolina, but was paid his $13 million salary while on the commissioner’s exempt list. Goodell suspended Hardy in April after the league was allowed to view evidence from a domestic violence trial that led to a conviction by a judge in North Carolina last year. The conviction was thrown out when the accuser, Nicole Holder, couldn’t be located to testify in Hardy’s appeal.

The Hardy situation was one of a number of high profile incidents for pro football last year that brought national outrage. NFL leaders were accused of not being in step with the times handing out lax punishments to players facing domestic violence charges.

That led the league to partner with the Austin-based National Domestic Violence Hotline. Goodell visited Austin last summer and spoke with University of Texas head football coach Charlie Strong about the “core values” the coach puts in place for college players. Goodell also visited the local hotline.

After that, the NFL committed to a multiyear, multimillion dollar partnership with the hotline. The organization said Friday the partnership with the league has helped the center boost staffing numbers, and increase their outreach efforts.

“In addition to our ability to answer calls and help people who are affected by domestic violence, what our partnership allows us to do is educate people earlier,” said Cameka Crawford, chief communications officer with the hotline. “We talk a lot about intervention work, but we are also doing a lot of prevention work. We are going into schools, having conversations with teens and young adults.”

On average, the hotline says they get 1,000 people reaching out every day. If you need help, call 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

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