Domestic Violence Programs and Services
Center for Victims offers counseling and support for victims of sexual violence, domestic violence, homicide and all other crimes. Services specifically geared towards victims of domestic violence include:
Womansplace Shelter offers 24 hour, 7 day/week support. All services are free and confidential.
The 24 hour crisis hotline
The hotline is designed to enable a victim of domestic violence to reach immediate assistance from a trained Womansplace Shelter counselor advocate or a volunteer. The hotline is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Last fiscal year we answered 2,010 calls.
Our 30-day emergency shelter can house up to 27 individuals/families. We provide 24-hour intake capability providing clients and victims and their children with a safe and supportive environment to begin recovery from their crisis and make plans for the future through maximum participation in program services. Last fiscal year Womansplace Shelter housed 298 adults for a total of 2,141 shelter nights.
A trained staff member works individually with a victim either in person or over the telephone to develop a personalized safety plan tailored to the victim’s particular circumstance and need.
A non-therapeutic helping method that involves listening to the victim and responding as an informed helper. The goal of supportive counseling is to share concern, responsibility, and power between the helper and the victim.
A non-therapeutic helping method that offers the victim information, resources, advocacy, and education for the purpose of restoring the victim’s sense of dignity, power, and control.
Individual face–to-face counseling with a trained counselor advocate assisting the victim dealing with the crisis. Service is provided to both residential and non-residential clients. Last fiscal year Womansplace Shelter staff provided 4,279.50 hours of counseling.
Assistance from staff with referrals, intervention, and communication/interaction with other organizations or resources made on the victim’s behalf. This type of advocacy is beneficial to the victim in his/her attempt to become self-sufficient.
Victims with children are encouraged to use services provided through the Children’s Department. Children of residential and non-residential victims are offered individual counseling and advocacy with a trained counselor. Last fiscal year Womansplace Shelter staff provided 323.25 hours of children’s counseling.
Assistance from staff, typically the Child Advocate, with referrals, intervention, and communication/interaction with other organizations or resources, made on the child’s behalf. Last fiscal year Womansplace Shelter staff provided 1,157 shelter nights to 288 children.
Systems Advocacy and Training
Personal contacts (in person or by telephone) initiated to effect policy and/or procedural change in order to improve a systems’ response to abuse victims. Last fiscal year Womansplace Shelter staff made over 3,370 contacts for a total of 1,172 hours.
The Transitional Housing Program is designed to offer temporary housing to women in crisis. Eligibility is based on homelessness caused by domestic violence, substance abuse or the effect of living with a substance abuse partner. Each participant works toward a safe and self-sufficient lifestyle by participating in a counseling program and maintaining a working relationship with a counselor and/or case manager. Through the counseling and/or case management, participants are offered appropriate support and linkages and specific service plans are developed to reinforce the participant’s goals of an independent lifestyle. Womansplace Shelter Staff currently operate 10 units of transitional housing.
Legal Advocacy is individual interaction between a legal advocate and the victim and/or members of law enforcement or the court system. Legal Advocates explain the criminal justice, court or legal system and inform victims of their rights. Residential and non-residential legal advocacy is provided. Legal Advocates provide one-to-one interaction to explain client rights within the criminal justice system, the civil court system or the legal system. The Advocate also serves on behalf of the client within these systems, helping to generate “systems” change and awareness of victims’ situations. The Legal Advocate instructs the victim through the Protection From Abuse (PFA) system and accompanies the victim to court upon request. Often the victim is referred to Center for Victims for services (e.g. shelter or individual/group counseling) by the advocate, judge or lawyer. Legal advocates are currently present in 11 District Courts; Elizabeth, McKeesport, Homestead, West Mifflin, Glassport, North Versailles, White Oak, Turtle Creek, South Park, Clairton, Rankin and Forest Hills.
Emergency Protection From Abuse Program (EPFA)
Center for Victims provides victims the opportunity to file EPFA’s in UPMC McKeesport, UPMC Braddock and Jefferson Regional Hospital. Womansplace staff estimates sixty percent of all victims never filed for life-saving Emergency Protection From Abuse Orders (EPFA) due to barriers presented to victims during their time of crisis. Recognizing the need to provide greater safety and better access to the court system for victims of domestic violence in their time of trauma, Center for Victims, along with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office began working together to develop a better system for victims to receive Emergency Protection From Abuse Orders. In 2004, Center for Victims instituted a new state-of-the-art video teleconferencing system that enables victims of domestic violence to interface directly with the Allegheny County Night Court Judge to attain an EPFA within the safety of their local hospital environment.
Education & Outreach
The purpose of community education/prevention is to increase awareness of domestic violence in all age groups and cultures, including underserved populations such as racial groups, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community (GLBT), women with disabilities, women with drug and alcohol issues, male victims, and the elderly. Specific projects are designed to inform the public of the availability of domestic violence services and the incidence, severity and characteristics of domestic violence.
Last fiscal year Womansplace Shelter staff held 197 educational and prevention programs reaching a total of nearly 15,000 individuals.
Healthcare Professional Training and Medical Advocacy
Womansplace Shelter staff have developed and instituted training protocols through the Allegheny County Community College Student Nurse Program, the McKeesport Hospital Family Medicine Resident Program as well as administrative staff in service programs and training to Emergency Personnel. Current information about Womansplace Shelter services which could be utilized by patients from the hospital or those in an outpatient setting requires advertisement and distribution to the medical community. As such, our agency collaborates with local schools, healthcare providers and social service providers to improve the quality of healthcare in our communities, Domestic Violence education and trainings include: Domestic Violence Awareness Training for Emergency Room physicians and their staff, employee in-service trainings for staff and management to promote awareness of domestic violence and the impact these issues have on the workplace environment, Domestic Violence Training for surrounding EMS workers and Domestic Violence training for social workers.
Employee Assistance Programs
Each year victims of intimate partner violence lose nearly 8 million days of paid work because of violence - the equivalent of over 32,000 full time jobs. The value of those days lost from employment and lost productivity is $727.8 million (Department of Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Realizing the importance of women in the workplace, Womansplace Shelter staff, in collaboration with area Employee Assistance Programs developed a direct referral system and supportive counseling program tailored specifically to employees who are in jeopardy of losing their jobs as a result of a domestic violence situation.
Through the Employee Assistance Program, individuals are referred to a Womansplace Shelter Non-Resident Counselor who will facilitate the implementation of six (6) 1-on-1 Counseling Sessions. The nature of this counseling will be non-therapeutic and will focus on issues such as: helping the victim to recognize his/her options; safety planning; and “Plan B” development. Each client’s “Plan B” will contain specific and realistic tools, coping skills, and resources that will enable him/her to maintain attendance, timeliness, and expected performance levels on the job in spite of challenges posed due to a domestic violence situation. The counseling protocol will also address issues such as self-esteem and assertiveness.
The 9th Street Clinic
A free medical clinic for any uninsured adult. The doors are open every Thursday night from 5 until 8 pm providing primary care services and referrals to the uninsured in our community. The Clinic is staffed by volunteers. Through a partnership with other human service providers in the area, a free hot meal is also served to those in need in the community on clinic nights. The clinic serves an average of 20 patients each week and provide an average of 50 free dinners to the homeless each night.