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Schuylkill Women in Crisis Services



Surviving an abusive relationship takes tremendous courage. Schuylkill Women in Crisis (SWiC) staff works with survivors to help them use the skills they already have to build a better future for themselves and their children – before it is too late.

SWiC Services include:

  • 24-Hour Hotline;
  • Information and Referral;
  • Accompaniment to Courts and Hospitals;
  • Emergency Shelter;
  • Counseling and Safety Planning;
  • Children’s Programming;
  • Legal Services;
  • Limited Transportation and Food Assistance;
  • Advocacy on Behalf of Victims with Other Community Systems;
  • Longer-Term Housing;
  • Case Management;
  • Volunteer Training;
  • Pet Sheltering at Alternate Site.

SWiC’s professional staff and trained volunteers are available 24 hours through the agency’s hotline. They are ready to address the immediate safety needs of victims and provide referrals to other agency and community services that will help victims on their path to safety.

Shelter services are available regardless of gender, but may be offered at an alternate site.

Many victims are hesitant to call SWiC because they do not want to leave their partner. SWiC respects each victim’s right to make their own decisions and is prepared to offer information and referral and safety planning that may be beneficial even for those opting to stay. Information is power.

SWiC’s free and confidential hotline is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by our staff and volunteers who are ready to provide support, phone counseling, crisis intervention, risk assessment, safety planning information, referral to services, and help with any other issues raised by the caller.

Hotline counseling, available 24 hours, is answered directly by trained staff or volunteers. Hotline staff is instructed to immediately assess whether or not the caller is in present danger. Staff then listen, answer questions, provide referrals, offer counseling, suggest safety planning, schedule appointments, or proceed with whatever service is deemed beneficial. SWiC’s emergency shelter is staffed 24/7, providing callers with immediate access to assistance within the community. The agency also maintains a toll-free number for the hotline which is critical due to the needs of the service area. Because Schuylkill County is rural, the accessibility and privacy provided through the hotline is critical for many survivors. Despite the prevalent use of cell phones, we find that many victims’ cell phones either become damaged by the abuser, their service is suspended, or their calls are dropped due to geography. SWiC, therefore, maintains, a toll-free 800 number to enable anyone using a land line phone to access the agency and vital services with no cost.

Please call us if you are concerned about your intimate relationship, if you are concerned about a loved one, or if you are a professional in need of information.

SWiC’s 24-Hour Hotline
570.622.6220 or toll free at 800.282.0634

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In addition to offering victims and their children a safe place to stay, SWiC’s 24-hour free and confidential emergency shelter offers a comprehensive range of services for victims of domestic and sexual violence and their children, including legal and medical advocacy, individual counseling sessions and support groups, housing advocacy, and assistance in goal planning and safety planning.

Shelter services are available regardless of gender, but may be offered at an alternate site.

Many victims are hesitant to call SWiC because they do not want to leave their partner. SWiC respects each victim’s right to make their own decisions and is prepared to offer information and referral and safety planning that may be beneficial even for those opting to stay. Information is power.

SWiC’s 24-Hour Hotline
570.622.6220 or toll free at 800.282.0634

SWiC operates two four-unit longer-term housing (LTH) facilities where victims and their children can reside for up to 24 months. Residents in SWiC’s LTH come from the agency’s shelter, and they apply for LTH living if/when a LTH unit is available. The 24 months provide participants the opportunity to address as many of the following as they need in order to reduce the probability of becoming homeless (for any reason) again: G.E.D., additional education, job skills training, preparation for entering or re-entering the work force. In addition, many victims may be ensnared in legal and/or financial issues, and many also need time and support to recover from injuries or conditions resulting from medical neglect due to isolation during the abusive relationship.

Each LTH resident works with SWiC’s case manager in developing a service plan, based upon the client’s goals for herself and her family. Obtaining and remaining in permanent housing within a maximum of 24 months after admittance into the project is a goal for all project participants. SWiC staff provides counseling for adults and children, information and referral to community resources, parenting information, assistance with securing permanent housing, and case management. While not all services necessary for survivors to achieve these goals are provided by SWiC, project staff also provides case management linking survivors to other resources in the community to assist them in achieving economic and personal growth. For example, Child Development Inc. provides childcare and access to the Head Start program for young children. Schuylkill Community Action provides homebuyers education and budgeting and financial management programs. Team PA Career Link of Schuylkill County assists with educational and skill development, job training and job readiness.

SWiC’s goal is to provide counseling services that help victims of domestic and sexual violence move from “victim” to “survivor” to “thriver” in their lives and life choices, as they reach safety, peace and self-sufficiency. Individual and group counseling is available through specially-trained counselors. Participants learn about the dynamics of abuse; the long-term impact of abuse on the victim and/or children who experience or witness abuse; and they benefit from safety planning and referrals to community resources that can help victims be safe.

SWiC also offers free and confidential services to relatives of domestic and sexual violence victims who are struggling with the trauma of what has happened to their loved one.

Empowerment Counseling

SWiC’s counseling/advocacy is based upon a trauma-informed, empowerment, wellness-based helping method in which victims become increasingly able to take control of their lives. The philosophical basis of empowerment counseling assumes that victims/survivors can determine what is best for their lives when offered support, advocacy, resources, and information. As the power between helpers and victims/survivors becomes equalized, the competence of victims is affirmed and they become able to acknowledge their power and authority to act. Empowerment counseling includes exploring the societal roots of abuse, and victims/survivors are encouraged to assist other victims, at both the individual and systems level, as a way of affirming their own strength. The goal of empowerment counseling is not only to return control to victims/survivors, but to involve survivors in assisting other victims and building a collective strength.

Victims are viewed as facing a situational problem rather than as individuals with predisposing psychological issues. The counseling component is not therapeutic because s/he is not sick, just in need of safety and help to deal with the effects of abuse and in need of support and information about the dynamics of abuse and community resources available. SWiC views the staff/program participant relationship as reciprocal between equals, where complete confidentiality is provided. This philosophy guides all program services.

SWiC provides individual counseling and groups for domestic violence victims. Under special circumstances, the agency is also able to arrange individual counseling at an alternative site from SWiC’s facilities, such as churches, medical facilities, and prisons for adults. Child victims are routinely seen at schools. Counseling services may also be provided to significant others.

Trauma-Informed Care

SWiC has always recognized that victims of domestic and sexual violence are in trauma, and we have adopted a trauma-informed care approach. While empowerment helps survivors regain their voice and sense of control and capability, a trauma-informed care approach assists victims of all types of trauma, especially children, in re-establishing a sense of safety and restoration of power. This approach relates to trauma as an experience, not as a diagnosis. Through this approach, we seek to help victims/survivors reframe experiences and memories in ways they can now manage and use as a resource and begin to view themselves as survivors/thrivers versus victims. This approach changes the paradigm from one that asks, "What's wrong with you?" to one that asks, "What has happened to you?"

Trauma-specific interventions are designed to address the consequences of trauma in the individual and to facilitate healing. Programs generally recognize the following:

  • The survivor's need to be respected, informed, connected, and hopeful regarding their own recovery;
  • The interrelation between trauma and symptoms of trauma (e.g., substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety);
  • The need to work in a collaborative way with survivors, family and friends of the survivor, and other human services agencies in a manner that will empower survivors.

Since establishing a place and sense of safety is an essential component of trauma-informed care, SWiC’s shelter is a vital resource in alleviating the trauma experienced by victims of all ages. The agency’s comprehensive services, versatility in approaches, flexibility in hours and staff availability allow for maximum effectiveness in helping survivors heal and thrive.

Children’s Counseling

SWiC’s Children’s Advocate provides services for children from preschool through age 18 or high school graduation. She assists children who have witnessed and/or experienced domestic violence in their homes as they navigate through the legal system, sometimes adjusting to a new school system and communal living in the shelter. Furthermore, the Children’s Advocate provides supportive counseling, makes referrals when more intense therapy is indicated, assists children in coping with sometimes stressful visitations with an abusive parent, and assists mothers in helping their children heal and adjust. She also plans holiday celebrations and other events and is responsible for coordinating the community supports for the children, such as community-wide collections of school supplies and donations of holiday food baskets, treats, and gifts.

Coloring, drawing, playing prompting games, and storytelling are all techniques the Children’s Advocate uses to help children identify and express the painful emotions they experience after traumatization. Another vital service provided by SWiC staff is safety planning with both mothers and children. Battered women and their children are at greater risk of fatal injury after separation from the perpetrator. Safety planning helps them to realize the potential degree of risk involved and to take steps to increase safety.

Activities involving both mother and child promote family bonding and the feeling of security that had been torn apart by abuse. The Children’s Advocate plans bus trips to cultural events and other organized activities, such as professional concerts, plays, semi-professional sporting events, and ice shows.

Child Care

SWiC offers free and confidential child care services for victims during court proceedings and other services relevant to victimization including:

  • SWiC Counseling Services
  • SWiC Legal Services
  • Mid Penn Legal Services
  • Schuylkill County Courthouse Services
    • OR when obtaining a Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order or Emergency PFA Order

In general, child care services are available M/W/F 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and T/TH 11 am to 7 pm. Individuals interested in this service should call our Child Care Worker to plan for child care at 570.622.3991. The following forms should be filled out and brought to SWiC before child care services begin:

You do not have to be alone when you go to court to seek justice and safety through the legal system. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, SWiC’s Advocate provides free and confidential court accompaniment, support, information, and advocacy as your case progresses through the legal system.

You may be able to obtain immediate, court-mandated protection through a civil Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order, regardless of whether criminal charges are filed against your abuser. A PFA is the only civil order in which violating it is a criminal offense.

Depending upon circumstances, the PFA can do any or all of the following:

  • order the abuser to stop the violent behavior and refrain from harassing, contacting, or stalking you;
  • exclude the abuser from your residence;
  • grant temporary custody of your minor children to you;
  • order payment to you of temporary support and out-of-pocket losses;
  • order the abuser to turn over weapons to the police.

CLICK HERE for more information about PFA Orders.

A SWiC advocate can help victims interested and eligible for reimbursement from the Victims Compensation Assistance Program in Pennsylvania. This program helps victims and their families through the emotional and physical aftermath of a crime by easing the financial impact placed upon them by the crime. A victim may be eligible to receive financial help from the Victims Compensation Assistance Program for a variety of expenses such as, medical and counseling expenses, loss of earnings, loss of support, stolen cash, relocation, funeral, or crime scene cleanup. The Victims Compensation Assistance Program will not reimburse for pain and suffering or for stolen or damaged property (except some medical items such as canes, wheelchairs, eyeglasses, hearing aids or medications).

To receive financial help from the Victims Compensation Assistance Program, you must:

  • Be a victim of a crime that happened in Pennsylvania or a Pennsylvania resident who was injured or killed in a foreign country that does not have a compensation program, and
  • Report the crime or file a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) within three days of the crime, and
  • Cooperate with the police, courts and the Victims Compensation Assistance Program, and
  • File the claim for compensation within two years of the crime, and
  • Not be involved in illegal activity that may have caused the crime to happen, and
  • Have an out of pocket expense of at least $100 because of the crime (if you are less than 60 years old).

Some exceptions to the above requirements exist (especially if the victim is younger than 18 years).

The best way to file a claim is with the help of a SWiC advocate. Or you may download the victim's compensation claim form, complete, and submit to the Victims Compensation Assistance Program. You may also contact the Victims Compensation Assistance Program directly at 800.233.2339 for assistance in filing a claim or to speak to staff who are available to answer your questions.

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that 37% of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence-related injuries were incurred by a current or former intimate partner. If you have ever gone to the hospital or your doctor for the injuries you received at the hands of your partner, or if you were too afraid to tell your doctor about what happened to you, you are not alone.

SWiC’s Medical Advocate provides awareness programs for professionals within the healthcare system. Advocates help doctors, nurses and others determine if a woman who is seeking medical treatment is a victim of domestic violence and how then to respond. If a patient identifies as a victim of domestic violence, SWiC advocates can talk to her on the phone from the hospital or medical office and/or meet her where she is to talk, offer services, and provide support.

SWiC’s 24-Hour Hotline
570.622.6220 or toll free at 800.282.0634

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Access to the court system is one of the most important resources that most victims of domestic/sexual abuse need in their path to safety and freedom, and the availability of an attorney can make all the difference in a victim’s efforts. SWiC received and implemented two separate grants in 2015 – one funding a consulting attorney and the other a staff attorney – greatly expanding the agency’s civil legal services.

One grant funds an attorney to work on a consultant basis representing victims of domestic violence as they seek Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders. S/he also represents victims in indirect criminal contempt hearings (when the defendant has been charged with violating the PFA). This attorney’s role is to stop the violence, giving victims the space to sit back and take stock of their options.

Because victims’ needs are rarely limited to a PFA, the second grant funds a SWiC Staff Attorney, who works out of an office on SWiC’s campus. S/he represents survivors in other civil matters that are common as they try to rebuild their lives, such as custody, divorce, support, and housing, etc. Victims/clients seeking representation from this attorney must meet income eligibility guidelines.

Both of these attorneys represent only victims referred by SWiC staff, and their services are free.

Schuylkill Women in Crisis (SWiC) provides a variety of educational programs for the Schuylkill County community. The goals of these programs are to raise awareness, focus on prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault, teach an understanding of problem behaviors, healthy relationships, and to make the community aware of the services SWiC offers. Specific programs are also available for Schools, Community Groups, Businesses, Faith-Based Organizations, Law Enforcement, and Medical Professionals.

For more information about available programs or requests for speakers, please contact the Community Education and Prevention Specialist at 570-622-3991 ext. 125 or email swicagency@comcast.net.