Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP)

Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP) at MGH works as part of the national effort to address the impact of community violence by maintaining a presence in the health care setting and strengthening the hospital’s response to patients, families and friends of patients and community members who have been affected by violence.

Why Does MGH Have the Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP)?

We recognize that acts of community violence are traumatic events that affect both individuals and the overall community.  Violent injuries have serious health consequences, including, physical recovery, depression, PTSD and substance abuse. The hospital presents an opportunity for intervention to help aid in the recovery process and reduce recidivism. 

Violence Intervention and Advocacy Program (VIAP) Overview:

VIAP is an active member of the National Network of Hospital Based Violence Intervention Programs (NNHVIP), and maintains strong working partnerships with other Boston hospital based violence prevention/intervention programs.  To best support and serve clients, VIAP collaborates with community organizations including: police, courts, district attorney’s offices, housing, immigration, legal services and other assistance programs.

OUR MISSION:Assist victims of violence to recover from physical and emotional trauma and empower them with skills, services and opportunities so they can safely return to their communities, strengthen others who have been affected by violence and contribute to building healthier communities.

PROGRAM GOAL:Reduce risk factors for violence and increase protective factors by utilizing engagement, motivation, advocacy and supportive techniques.


The VIAP Advocate

  • Provides trauma informed advocacy services to all patients presenting as victims of violence, as well as families and friends of patients.
    • The initial consultation can occur in the Emergency Department or an inpatient unit.
    • The VIAP Advocate may meet with the patient on a one-time basis or meet several times over the hospital visit.
  • Utilizes motivational interviewing techniques
  • Offers training and consultation to the MGH community
  • Collaborates with community organizations

Emergent and Ongoing Services

  • Crisis Intervention/Support
  • Safety Planning
  • Advocacy
  • Referrals to resources, including:
    • Community services
    • Medical coverage & follow-up care
    • Financial assistance
    • Safety Planning
    • Safe housing
    • Legal assistance
  • Accompaniment to court or other appointments

VIAP provider and patient information brochure

Violence Intervention Advocacy Program Coordinator: Amanda Breen, MS


Phone Numbers for Additional MGH Based Violence Services

MGH provides tailored patient advocacy for victims of multiple types of violence:

  • Community (VIAP)
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Trafficking
  • Sexual Assault 

Intimate Partner or Family Member Abuse: HAVEN at MGH M-F 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

  • Boston: 617.724.0054
  • Chelsea: 617.887.3513
  • Revere: 781.485.6108
  • After hours/weekends: Safelink Hotline: 877.785.2020

Child Protection Team (CPT);24 hours/7 days a week:

  • 617.724.028
  • Pager: x32728

Social Worker On-Call (overnight/weekends): pager x26803

Police and Security:  617.726.2121

Employee Assistance Program (EAP): 617.726.6976


Sources and Additional Information

US Centers for Disease Control (CDC): –

MGH Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) 2012 Community Health Survey: –

Massachusetts Weapon Related Injury Surveillance System (WRISS) –

About Community Violence

COMMUNITY VIOLENCE: A form of interpersonal violence,  which can be broken down into acquaintance and stranger violence and includes youth violence, assault by strangers, violence related to property crimes and violence in workplaces and other institutions (World Health Organization).

According to the CDC, community violence is a problem throughout the U.S.:

  • Over 707,000 young people aged 10 to 24 years had physical assault injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments in 2011 - an average of 1,938 each day.
  • In a 2011 nationally-representative sample of youth in grades 9-12: –32.8% reported being in a physical fight in the 12 months preceding the survey; the prevalence was higher among males (40.7%) than females (24.4%).
  • Homicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24 years old.

Local Information

  • A community health survey conducted by the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) in 2012 looked at concerns to residents of Charlestown, Chelsea and Revere. 
  • Chelsea respondents ranked crime and violence as the second most important problem in their city. Weapons related injuries highest amongst males ages 20-24, followed by males ages 15-19 in Chelsea (WRISS, 2008-2010).
  • Revere respondents ranked crime and violence as the second most important health problem in their city. Weapons related injuries highest among males ages 20-24 in Revere (WRISS, 2008-2010).
  • 49% of Charlestown respondents ranked low crime and a safe neighborhood as the most important factor that defines a healthy community (CCHI, 2012).