October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Domestic violence is prevalent in every community and affects all people regardless of age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. Physical violence is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior as part of a much larger, systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and even death. The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.

In the United States, an average of 20 people experiences intimate partner physical violence every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.

I am proud to support Center for Victims and their mission to create change in our community. The Center for Victims is community-based nonprofit organization and the largest, most comprehensive, inclusive provider of services, advocacy, and education for victims of all crime in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Their mission is “Healing trauma, supporting victims and creating social change for a more peaceful community”. If you’d like to support Center for Victims in their mission, please consider getting involved.

Their services and resources include:

  • 24-Hour Crisis Hotline – 1-866-644-2882: Caring, professional staff is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to respond to emergency needs of crime victims and witnesses, answer questions, and provide support. The hotline serves as the gateway to all of our services. Anyone can call the hotline seeking help for themselves or others, including victims and witnesses and their families or friends, law enforcement, hospitals, social workers or mental health professionals. Staff helps the caller to identify their needs and resources including those provided by Center for Victims and other community organizations.
  • Therapy and Counseling: Center for Victims provides a broad range of therapeutic services to victims and witnesses, their families and other significant people in their lives. When people have been victimized and exposed to trauma, their sense of safety and well-being may be affected. A traumatic experience impacts the entire person — the way they think, the way they learn, the way they remember things and how they feel about themselves and the world around them. Center for Victims strives to lessen the negative impacts by empowering victims to understand the trauma they are experiencing, find new ways of coping and move toward healing. Through an assessment process, staff, along with the client, determine the type and level of care that will most effectively address the impacts of trauma. Crisis Counseling is provided to both individuals and families to help manage current stressors and stabilize the crisis. The licensed clinical team provides an initial evaluation, short-term treatment for individuals and groups, ongoing individual and family therapy, ongoing group treatment and art therapy.
  • Emergency Shelter: Center for Victims provides an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence who are in need of shelter and safety as a result of a current domestic violence situation. Victims and their children are provided with a safe and supportive environment to begin recovering from the crisis. Staff works with the victim to develop a personalized safety plan and links them to a host of supportive domestic violence services.
  • Transitional Housing: Center for Victims has a Transitional Housing Program designed for female victims of Domestic Violence and their children. The program varies from a 12 to 24 month stay, during which clients receive comprehensive case management and supportive services focused specifically on the individual and unique needs of each client. These services include counseling, safety planning, goal planning, referrals to appropriate services and assistance obtaining permanent housing. The goal of the program is to prepare each client for a safe and self-sufficient lifestyle, free of violence and abuse. To inquire about Transitional Housing, please contact the Case Manager at 412-678-4620 x204.
  • Protection From Abuse Order Assistance: Center for Victims has trained advocates available 24 hours per day to assist those seeking Protection From Abuse (PFA) Orders, including Emergency Orders that must be obtained during evening, weekend and holiday hours. Staff will assist with all aspects of the PFA filing process, including consult, options and safety planning, explanation of courtroom procedures, and assistance with filing the PFA. Recognizing the need to provide better access to the court system, the Center also supports Emergency Protection From Abuse Orders satellites in local hospitals. If appropriate, this video teleconferencing system allows domestic violence victims to interface directly with night court in the safety of their local hospital environment. This system is currently active at UPMC McKeesport and Jefferson Regional Medical Center.
  • Safety Planning: Center for Victims works individually with a domestic violence victim either in person or over the telephone to develop a personalized safety plan tailored to the victim’s particular circumstances and needs. Staff provides Options Counseling which offers the victim information, resources, advocacy and education for the purpose of restoring the victim’s sense of dignity, power and control. Domestic Violence victims can also meet face to face with a Domestic Violence counselor to assist the victim in coping with the crisis. This service is provided to both residential and non-residential clients. If you are an employer who has an employee experiencing domestic violence, Center for Victims can work in collaboration with your Employee Assistance Program to provide domestic violence specific counseling and support services.
  • Children’s Advocacy and Counseling: Center for Victims recognizes that children who live in homes where partner abuse occurs can also be affected. For children residing in our shelter or transitional housing programs, the Child Advocate provides a safe and comforting atmosphere where children can participate in enjoyable activities in addition to receiving age appropriate counseling and therapeutic services. The Child Advocate also assists with school enrollment, connections to early childhood development and other helpful resources, and advocates on the child’s behalf to ensure all of their needs are met. Individual counseling and advocacy services are also available to children who are not residing in our shelter or transitional housing program.
  • Medical Advocacy: Victims of domestic violence often present at local hospitals or medical facilities due to physical injuries. Center for Victims collaborates with the medical community to ensure that our service information is distributed to patients. Medical personnel can refer patients to our staff for an array of comprehensive services including safety planning, shelter, legal advocacy and accompaniment, and counseling. Center for Victims will advocate for victims throughout the medical system.
  • Medical Advocacy & Accompaniment: Following an incident of violence, victims may need medical attention. In sexual assault cases, Center for Victims is available to respond to hospitals as support persons for the victim and their loved ones throughout their experience. Staff assists the victim through police interviews, medical procedures and evidence collection. They provide crisis counseling, help address safety concerns and financial concerns about medical bills. Staff explains the next steps in the legal process, links the victim to the range of services available, and empowers them to make informed decisions.

Sources: Center for Victims, NCAVD