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Natural Awakenings Philadelphia

Time to Stop Domestic Violence

May 02, 2018 03:59PM

Women Against Abuse is Philadelphia’s only comprehensive domestic violence service provider, touching the lives of nearly 14,000 individuals each year through a continuum of care that includes The only emergency safe havens in Philadelphia for victims of domestic violence; A 15-unit transitional housing program; Community-based case management services, as well as relocation and housing assistance to ensure survivors’ long-term independence from abuse; Philadelphia’s only Legal Center for survivors of domestic violence. Our staff attorneys are experts in the field, and provide free representation for those seeking protection from abuse orders, child custody and support; The Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline, a 24-hour, citywide resource that provides crisis intervention and confidential support.

"Looking back, all the signs were there," recalls Kathleen (name withheld), a Philadelphia mother of two. “Tracking me down when I was at work; telling me I was a bad wife and mother for having a career; following me to the supermarket or doctor’s office,” she explains. What started as a barrage of insults soon intensified into pressure to quit her job and move away from her family. Finally, one day Kathleen’s husband attacked her, leaving her with a severe concussion. “The next thing I knew, I woke up at the hospital, actually asking for my husband because I did not remember a thing,” she says.

While she recovered from her injuries, Kathleen’s husband froze their bank account and drained their retirement funds. Kathleen made the difficult choice to relocate with her two children. Once she arrived at the Women Against Abuse safe haven, Kathleen had the opportunity to rebuild her life, enroll her children in a new school, regain control of her finances and find a home she could afford. Women Against Abuse case managers helped her draw a plan to get there and on-site therapists partnered to begin processing the trauma she had experienced.

With the backing of Women Against Abuse, Kathleen received relocation assistance to transition into a home of her own. She accessed the Women Against Abuse Legal Center to help her seek child support and connect her with resources for filing for divorce. Today, Kathleen is a passionate advocate in the movement to end domestic violence.

For decades, stories like Kathleen’s went unheard. Relational violence has been under-recognized, underreported and silenced by social norms for far too long. Women Against Abuse has been encouraged to witness this time in history, when so many are speaking out through movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp.

The silence and stigma that has surrounded domestic violence and sexual harassment is finally eroding as society takes a stand against these travesties. It will take not only awareness, but also deep collaboration, urgency and investment of resources to end this epidemic. When voices are silenced, we cannot overcome, but when we choose to listen to difficult truths, we are empowered to make a change.

Their educators work with first responders, social service professionals and young people to prevent domestic violence. They believe that ending relational violence is only possible through a concerted effort by the entire community, so they are the pioneering force behind Shared Safety,  Philadelphia’s revolutionary approach to domestic and sexual violence, human trafficking, and reproductive coercion. Visit for more information.

Domestic violence is lethal, common and affects people of all cultures, religions, ages, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds and income levels. While the signs of physical abuse are often the most recognizable, domestic violence also includes sexual, verbal, emotional, financial and technological abuse, as well as stalking.

Violence often escalates when a survivor is in the process of leaving. That’s why it is important to develop a plan for safely leaving. Hotline counselors will suggest safety precautions, like leaving when the abusive partner will not be home; gathering necessary medications and important documents ahead of time; and how to discuss the situation with children.

The 24-Hour Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-866-723-3014. For more information, visit SharedSafetyPhila.org. Volunteers can help by visiting WomenAgainstAbuse.org and donating time or money.

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