December is the season for giving, and after the tumultuous year that 2020 was, there are many who are in need of cheer and, most importantly, help.
Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 as a response to the commercialization and consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a chance for those who are able to contribute to those in need.
Domestic violence survivors face continuous challenges, and the stay-at-home orders and social distancing added additional hurdles to their everyday lives. Survivors were confined to close quarters with their abusers, and throughout the pandemic, many survivors experienced financial hardship by losing their jobs or having their abusers withhold their finances.
During this time, domestic violence services in PA have continued to serve survivors, adapting to the challenges of the pandemic. While local domestic violence programs offer direct service to those in need, PCADV provides the infrastructure, support, expertise, and training at the statewide level to make their work effective in our local communities.
“PCADV enables local domestic violence programs to be able to empower survivors.”
By contributing to Giving Tuesday this year, you are able to make a difference in a survivor’s life at the macro and micro level.
Here are a few of the programs and areas that can help survivors with a simple donation.
Lethality Assessment Program
With grant funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, PCADV began implementing the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) in 2012, using Maryland’s nationally recognized Lethality Assessment Program as its model.
The LAP promotes a coordinated community response, which connects victims who are at the highest risk of being killed with domestic violence services.
Police who are responding to an intimate partner domestic violence incident ask the victim a series of screening questions. The responses to the questions are used to determine the potential lethality of the situation. Depending on victim’s answers, the officer(s) may immediately put the high-risk victim in touch with their local domestic violence program so that the victim may begin safety planning.
Statewide, 47 domestic violence programs and 387 law enforcement agencies in 50 counties participate in the program. From 2012 to 2020, there were more than 27,000 screens, more than 18,000 high-danger screens, with more than 10,000 high-danger victims speaking to hotline advocate and more than 6,800 of those who spoke to hotline went for services. An additional 5,396 victims who did not speak with the hotline, did not screen in as high-danger, did not answer or the officer could not administer the screen for a total of 12,231 victims seeking services.
Only 4 percent of domestic violence homicide victims had received domestic violence services prior to being killed, according to Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV), LAP national newsletter.
You can learn more about the LAP at this page.
Civil Legal Representation Project
In order to ensure that victims and domestic violence survivors can have full legal representation, PCADV implemented the Civil Legal Representation (CLR) Project.
The project is funded through the Department of Human Services (DHS), with 18 legal sites throughout the Commonwealth.
PCADV’s present and future role with the CLRs include:
- Maintaining and strengthening the capacity and expertise of current CLR programs through regular Domestic Violence Attorneys’ Network meetings, Webinars, and publications.
- Expanding the CLR network through the creation of additional programs.
The CLRs provide direct civil legal representation to domestic violence survivors within their county service areas. CLR staff also use their expertise to advocate for domestic violence survivors in their local systems on matters of divorce, custody, support, immigration, housing, and protection from abuse.
CLR is available to individuals receiving services from the affiliated domestic violence program in the counties with a CLR site.
To learn more about CLR and to find the closest site to you, you can visit this page.
Medical Advocacy Program
PCADV is the first statewide domestic violence coalition in the country, and its original program is the Medical Advocacy Program (MAP), which was founded in 1996.
The MAP provides funding to domestic violence programs who wish to establish and maintain relationships with local healthcare sites in order to improve responses to domestic violence.
The program is crucial for survivors, because a medical visit may be the only chance for a domestic violence survivor to connect with a program or receive other necessary resources.
You can learn more about MAP at this page.
Areas of Expertise
With a trauma-informed response approach, PCADV is able to ensure that domestic violence agencies help the health care community effectively screen for domestic violence. This is promoted through trainings, systems, advocacy, and technical assistance for health care providers.
With staff who is nationally recognized for their expertise in multiple areas, PCADV also offers training, support, and technical assistance with programs who may not have the capacity that larger programs have in the following areas.
Providing Safe Housing
PCADV is committed to supporting member programs in developing new innovative housing initiatives and ensuring that current housing options are working for victims and survivors.
In November 2019, PCADV received a grant through Home4Good program for a Domestic Violence Housing First pilot project in Eastern Pennsylvania, which was cited by HUD as an outstanding collaborative approach to DV rehousing during COVID-19.
In August 2020, PCADV was selected to conduct a housing project in Southwestern Pennsylvania through funding from the National Alliance for Safe Housing to address the increased barriers presented by COVID-19.
More information on PCADV’s commitment to safe housing can be found here.
Impact of Domestic Violence on Children
Research shows that exposure to violence, especially during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood can significantly increase the likelihood of serious physical, emotional, and behavioral health problems. Children who live with domestic violence are also at increased risk to become direct victims of child abuse and are at an increased risk of becoming perpetrators themselves.
One example of PCADV’s work in this area is our work with the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). Our two organizations teamed up in October 2020 to put together a domestic violence awareness toolkit to educate family support workers and Family Supports staff on how domestic violence may impact the clients and families they serve while screening for intimate partner violence.
The toolkit also helps domestic violence service providers to connect with children and families to provide a two-way street for a more holistic approach to service provision.
For other ways to recognize the impact of domestic abuse on children, you can visit this page.
Creating Economic Stability
Financial abuse is a barrier that often prevents victims from leaving an abusive relationship and is present in more than 98% of cases. PCADV’s economic justice and empowerment work has been facilitated through the Investing in Survivors’ Financial Independence Initiative since 2012. PCADV currently funds economic justice initiatives at 18 member programs with 7 additional programs funded previously through support from the Allstate Foundation and other private sources.
These services include:
- Teaching Financial Basics and Enhancing Credit:
- Providing some form of financial information to all service recipients
- Providing credit repair and building education
- Increasing Job Readiness and Training:
- Facilitating career workshops
- Linking survivors to soft skills building opportunities
- Promoting Long-Term Stability:
- Providing information on housing
- Providing information on accessing higher education
- Expanding Partnerships:
- Partnering with organizations to enhance access to higher education
- Partnering with organizations that provide job skills training
To learn about other services, you can visit this page.
Preventing Abuse in Later Life
PCADV’s focus on Intimate Partner Violence in Later Life is to strengthen the organization and the 59 local domestic violence programs to support adults 60 years and older who are victims and survivors of domestic violence, exploitation, and/or neglect.
The Commonwealth is fourth in the nation as being home to people aged 50 and older, with 2.9 million citizens 60-plus years old.
To learn more about abuse in later life, intimate partner violence in later life, and other issues that impact those older than 50, you can visit this page.
Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence
There are distinguishing links between animal abuse and domestic violence, and PCADV is working to inform and educate those across the state so that they can take action at the local level.
PCADV is partners with the Harrisburg Area Humane Society, the Pennsylvania State Humane Society, and the National LINK Coalition. PCADV works with all of these organizations to incorporate the links between animal abuse and domestic abuse into their trainings and published content.
You can learn more about the connection between animal abuse and domestic violence here.
Educating About Abuse in LGBTQ+ Communities
54% of trans people have experienced domestic violence, according to The National Center for Transgender Equality. That’s just one of the glaring statistics about the high rate of abuse in the LGBTQ+ community.
PCADV works with the 59 local domestic violence programs so that they can provide meaningful services to LGBTQ+ victims and survivors.
In addition to the trainings and support that we offer to programs, PCADV has a confidential membership-based caucus, the Gender & Sexual Justice Caucus, that is open to program advocates and PCADV staff.
To learn more about what abuse looks like in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as more information on pronouns and the aforementioned caucus, you can visit this page.
Helping Underserved Populations
Seeking help can be difficult for anyone, but for those in an underserved population, such as a person of color, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or someone living in a rural area, there are additional systemic barriers in place, making it even more difficult.
PCADV works with our programs to ensure that those in underserved communities have access to the resources they need.
These groups include:
- People who have a disability
- People of color
- People living in rural areas
- People who are from faiths other than Christianity
- People who are refugees and immigrants
- People who identify as LGBTQ+
- Male survivors
You can read this page to learn more about what PCADV is doing to help these underserved populations.
How YOU Can Make a Difference
We encourage you to stand up, donate, and support these causes to help get survivors of domestic abuse the resources they need.
Domestic violence does not discriminate.
In the last 10 years, more than 1,600 people have died from domestic violence-related incidents in Pennsylvania. Those killed included women, children, and men of all ages, races, sexual orientation, and socio-economic groups.
Survivors need your support now more than ever.