Dr. Astrid Heger

Heger_headshot_2Executive Director, Violence Intervention Program at LAC+USC Medical Center

Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California


Astrid Heppenstall Heger, M.D. is the Executive Director of the Violence Intervention Program (VIP), located at the Los Angeles County (LAC) + University of Southern California (USC) Medical Center where she is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics.  In 1984, Dr. Heger founded the Center for the Vulnerable Child for the evaluation of child abuse. This was the first medically-based Child Advocacy Center in the world and its success eventually led to the expansion of services for adolescents and adults. Known today as the Violence Intervention Program, Dr. Heger has built the first of its kind, “one stop shop” community Family Advocacy Center, offering medical, mental health, protective, legal and social services to over 20,000 victims of family violence and sexual assault each year.

Dr. Heger has been called on to help replicate this model in hundreds of programs around the world.  And in 2004 she piloted the HUB system within the county of Los Angeles which provides dedicated services for children at risk for or already in foster care.  VIP’s HUB clinic combines round-the-clock forensic and medical assessments with an ongoing medical home that includes mental health and support services.  The HUB is located in VIP’s new “forensic urgent care center” at LAC+USC Medical Center.  Most recently the VIP has developed a Healthy Community Initiative with a mobile clinic serving adolescents, families and other community members.

Dr. Heger remains the pre-eminent expert in the field of child sexual abuse and sexual assault, and is the author of numerous articles as well as the definitive textbook “Evaluation of the Sexually Abused Child,” now in it’s second edition.  She has served as a commentator on family and juvenile violence in local and national media, and has received numerous honors and awards for her work with victims of abuse including the President’s highest award for victim advocacy.  Dr. Heger also serves as a consultant to the Los Angeles County Coroner in cases involving child death or sexual assault in all ages.  She is an avid writer and photographer and has completed a series of short stories about the children that have impacted her life over the past two decades.