Speaking to Pennsylvania´s diversity of need in a clear, collective voice to secure legislative, policy and social change at the state and national levels.
Creating Safer Communities
Domestic violence is a learned and preventable behavior. Growing public awareness of domestic violence as both a crime and public health crisis that can have fatal consequences has sparked demand for effective primary prevention programs that stop violence before it starts. Primary prevention reinforces attitudes, social norms and behaviors that prevent abuse from occur- ring the first time.
Domestic violence is not only horrifying for victims and their children, but the fiscal impact of domestic violence can be crippling to a community. Medical and mental health costs alone are estimated at $8 billion a year nationwide. Other costs include lost work and school time, police coverage, district attorneys’ and judges’ time, and services for victims and their children to heal and thrive again.
PCADV is seeking funding to reduce and prevent violence against women and girls by developing a theory-driven, comprehensive statewide strategy. The Coalition will lead community-wide discussions and trainings to engage schools, parents and community leaders as active prevention partners. In addition, the Coalition will engage men and boys as active bystanders willing to publicly speak and act to oppose violence against women and girls. Through awareness education and concerted community action, we can prevent domestic violence from occurring in our homes and communities.
Building a State-of-the-Art Training Institute
Standardized, professional training is key to creating a common understanding of the complexity of domestic violence, the unique needs of victims and their children, and the best practices for prevention, intervention and assistance to victims throughout Pennsylvania.
PCADV’s Training Institute creates workshops and educational opportunities for systems professionals and domestic violence advocates to sharpen their skills and stay in front of emerging issues. The Institute also is developing e-learning modules and web-based training to accommodate local domestic violence Programs that, because of resource limitations, find it difficult to send staff out of the office for training.
PCADV is seeking funding to develop a comprehensive library of e-learning based on research and best practices of service delivery to victims of domestic violence and their children. This initiative will provide consistent, high-quality training, utilizing state-of-the-art technology, for advocates to expand their knowledge and improve their work skills without having to leave their work sites.
Investing in Women´s Financial Independence
Economic independence can transform a vulnerable victim into a safe survivor. However, a lack of financial resources forces many battered women to stay with or return to their abusers.
As a consequence of their abuse, many battered women face overwhelming challenges to repair damaged credit and rental his- tories, adopt sound budgeting practices, access affordable housing, pursue education and career goals, and build assets. Local domestic violence Programs struggle to provide information and advocacy on these issues. Without the investments of aca- demia and the business community, many battered women remain trapped.
PCADV is seeking funding to design curricula and training materials to increase the capacity and skill sets of domestic violence advocates working with battered women to achieve financial independence. The Coalition will also build a statewide network of partners from academia and business to lend expertise and resources for battered women to break down economic barriers and acquire affordable housing, education, job training and employment opportunities.
Healing Child Witnesses
Domestic violence Programs have long recognized that every risk, injury, and disruption a victim endures, their children also endure. PCADV Programs provide young victims and witnesses of domestic violence with specialized services that address the impact of the violence on their emotional, educational, social and behavioral development. However, as funding for crisis services continues to decline, many Programs are forced to limit or eliminate children’s services.
Children, whose parents died in lethal acts of domestic violence as they helplessly watched or tried in vain to intervene, are a forgotten population of victims. These traumatized children often are uprooted from all that is familiar and comforting to them – their homes, pets, schools, friends – and placed in the care of aging grandparents or other relatives who may be unprepared to take on this responsibility.
PCADV is seeking funding to ensure the availability of children’s services in all local domestic violence Programs. Additional funding would enable the Coalition to initiate training for Programs and outreach to community partners to offer crisis intervention and long-term support for traumatized or grieving children and their caretakers.
Strengthening Health Care Response
Often the first point of contact for victims seeking treatment for domestic violence-related injuries and issues, health care providers can play a critical role in intervening and preventing further violence. Studies show routine face-to-face screening of patients for domestic violence by skilled health care providers markedly increases identification of victims and those patients who are at risk for verbal, physical and sexual abuse.
PCADV’s nationally recognized medical advocacy project partners local domestic violence Programs with medical providers for training on screening, documenting and referring patients who are being abused. However, current resources support these services in only half of the state. Victims in all corners of the Commonwealth deserve informed health care providers. Medical providers also urgently need ongoing training on emerging issues such as reproductive coercion and traumatic brain injuries in the context of domestic violence.
PCADV is seeking funding to research best practices and evaluate and strengthen current projects in accordance with findings. Additional funding is sought to extend medical advocacy into currently underserved regions of the state and support ongoing and expanding training for other types of providers who are also the first contacts for the victim.
Expanding Access to Legal Counsel
Leaving an abusive relationship is one of the most dangerous times for victims of domestic violence. In addition, victims face complex legal issues in finding safety and obtaining justice. For victims who can scarcely pull together the resources they need for survival, the ability to retain an attorney who has the knowledge and understanding to advocate on issues unique to domestic violence victims can mean the difference between life and death for them and their children.
Domestic violence victims may require legal protection in the form of Protection From Abuse and custody orders that safeguard their children from an abusive parent. Victims also may need courts to protect their access to safe and affordable housing and to establish their immigration status and their ability to maintain employment or seek child and spousal support.
Currently, PCADV supports 13 legal clinics that place attorneys in domestic violence Programs to provide free legal advice and representation and advocate for improved justice system responses. Yet there remains an enormous unmet need throughout the greater part of the state.
PCADV is seeking to establish new clinics in currently undeserved areas of the state. Additional funding would enable existing projects to expand their capacity to meet the needs of new clients and address emerging issues.
Lethality Assessment Program
Between 2001 and 2011, at least 1,700 people in Pennsylvania died as a result of domestic violence—mostly abused women but also children, law enforcement officers, friends, coworkers, passersby and perpetrators who killed themselves. These deaths leave a wake of grief and devastation among the families and communities left questioning what, if anything, can be done to stop the lethal toll of domestic violence.
National research into the circumstances preceding domestic violence homicides has given us an option that has proven effective at saving victims’ lives: the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP). LAP is a two-pronged intervention process featuring a research-based lethality screening tool and accompanying protocols that enable law enforcement and other first responders to assess domestic violence victims, identify those at highest risk of being killed and immediately initiate contact with a domestic violence service provider to connect victims with the services proven to reduce their high risk of homicide.
In 2012, PCADV began the initial phase of LAP implementation in communities in 12 Pennsylvania counties, with the goal of expanding this research-driven program to all 67 counties to ensure that even more lives are saved. In Maryland, where LAP is nearly universally applied by law enforcement and domestic violence programs, the homicide rate fell 41 percent. If Pennsylvania can replicate these results, hundreds of lives could be saved.
Developing Strategic Service Models
PCADV, the nation’s first statewide domestic violence coalition, was formed in 1976 with nine local Programs. The Coalition has grown to 60 Programs that serve all 67 counties of the Commonwealth. Even with that breadth of coverage, a large percentage of victims - particularly teenagers, the middle class, and the elderly - are still not reached.
PCADV and our member programs embarked on a three-year project to understand research-based best practices in the field and evaluate current program service delivery. This process will include local, state, and national experts to critique and conceptualize the design of modernized services for all involved in domestic violence.
Say "No More" to Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania
After 35 years of awareness efforts by the Coalition, Pennsylvanians generally recognize domestic violence for what it is – a crime that cycles through generations of families from all walks of life. However, studies and surveys show that many people still don’t know what to do when they see, hear or suspect abuse in their families, neighborhoods or workplaces. PCADV is seeking to address this awareness gap through a multi-year, multi-media bystander intervention campaign.
“Say No More to Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania” will be part of the new national “No More – Together We Can End Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault” campaign that uses a unified theme and message to engage people in standing up and speaking out against the violence.
Through posters, billboards, bus ads, PSAs, etc., PCADV will encourage Pennsylvanians to “Say No More” to blaming victims and excusing abusers; looking the other way and pretending they don’t see or hear the abuse; remaining silent and not offering help; and assuming it’s not their business or their community’s problem.
PCADV is seeking funding for a three-year campaign that will tailor the national “No More” theme into Pennsylvania-specific messages and materials. Year one involves development and testing of messages; year two, dissemination and implementation; year three, evaluation and expansion of audiences.
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