Our victim services start the moment a crime occurs through the often lengthy and emotional legal process, as well as the physical and emotional healing process for victims. This comprehensive list of services is available to anyone, no matter their age, gender or socioeconomic status.
Crime Victim Services
24-Hour Crisis Hotline - 1-866-644-2882
Caring, professional staff is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to respond to emergency needs of crime victims and witnesses, answer questions, and provide support. The hotline serves as the gateway to all of our services. Anyone can call the hotline seeking help for themselves or others, including victims and witnesses and their families or friends, law enforcement, hospitals, social workers or mental health professionals. Staff helps the caller to identify their needs and resources including those provided by Center for Victims and other community organizations.
Victims’ Rights Information
In the aftermath of crime, it’s important to know that crime victims have rights under the law. Center for Victims’ staff helps victims know and understand their rights and advocates on behalf of victims to ensure their rights are upheld. Staff provides support and guidance as well as help victims understand the legal system and the various steps in the process.
Legal Support – Accompaniment & Advocacy
Navigating the legal system can be difficult for crime victims. The process is often long, slow confusing. Center for Victims’ staff explain the steps in the process and attend legal and court proceedings to support the victim and the significant people in their lives. From police or prosecution interviews and the first court hearing through the sentencing, or disposition, of the offender, staff is there to answer their questions, address their fears, protect their rights, and help victims through the experience.
Counseling and Therapy
Center for Victims provides a broad range of therapeutic services to victims and witnesses, their families and other significant people in their lives. When people have been victimized and exposed to trauma, their sense of safety and well-being may be affected. A traumatic experience impacts the entire person — the way they think, the way they learn, the way they remember things and how they feel about themselves and the world around them. Center for Victims strives to lessen the negative impacts by empowering victims to understand the trauma they are experiencing, find new ways of coping and move toward healing.
Through an assessment process, staff, along with the client, determine the type and level of care that will most effectively address the impacts of trauma. Crisis Counseling is provided to both individuals and families to help manage current stressors and stabilize the crisis. The licensed clinical team provides an initial evaluation, short-term treatment for individuals and groups, ongoing individual and family therapy, ongoing group treatment and art therapy.
Victims Compensation Assistance
Although no amount of money is enough to erase the harm that crime may cause, the Victims Compensation Program of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency helps victims and their families through the crisis by easing some of their financial burden. Victims may apply for expenses directly related to the crime and claims must be filed within two years.
Center for Victims assists victims in the process of applying for Victim’s Compensation. Staff reviews the eligibility requirements and details about expenses and their limits and helps filing a claim. Compensation may be paid for medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of earnings, loss of support, travel costs, homecare, childcare, counseling, stolen-benefit cash, relocation expenses, costs related to cleaning a crime scene and other expenses.
Offender Release Information & Notification
Crime victims may want to know whether or not the offender on their case is in jail or prison. This information may be critical to their safety and well-being. Notification is a right provided to eligible crime victims under Pennsylvania law. Center for Victims has an Offender Release Notification program for victims whose offenders are under the supervision of the Allegheny County Jail and helps crime victims register for notifications when the offender is in a state or federal facility or when a juvenile offender is placed in a juvenile facility.
Crime victims often need support from caring people dedicated to their unique needs. Advocates offer information, emotional support and help finding resources. Advocates can also intervene on the victim’s behalf with a variety of systems victims may encounter such as the criminal justice system, medical system or social service and housing systems. Upon the victim’s request, advocates may help in contacting family members and employers and let victims know steps in recovering property or asking for restitution.
Victim Offender Dialogue (Restorative Justice Program)
Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD) is a service that seeks to make things as right as possible for everyone after a crime occurs. In a VOD, victims and offenders meet face-to-face in a safe and structured environment with trained facilitators to talk about what happened, who was harmed, and how the harm can be repaired. The victim can ask an offender questions and receive answers about what happened and why, tell the offender how the crime affected them, and help decide what needs to happen in order for everyone to move forward. The offender can agree to take steps to repair the harm created by their crime by paying restitution, completing volunteer work or making other amends.
Domestic Violence Services
Center for Victims provides an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence who are in need of shelter and safety as a result of a current domestic violence situation. Victims and their children are provided with a safe and supportive environment to begin recovering from the crisis. Staff works with the victim to develop a personalized safety plan and links them to a host of supportive domestic violence services.
Center for Victims has a Transitional Housing Program designed for female victims of Domestic Violence and their children. The program varies from a 12 to 24 month stay, during which clients receive comprehensive case management and supportive services focused specifically on the individual and unique needs of each client. These services include counseling, safety planning, goal planning, referrals to appropriate services and assistance obtaining permanent housing. The goal of the program is to prepare each client for a safe and self-sufficient lifestyle, free of violence and abuse. To inquire about Transitional Housing, please contact the Case Manager at 412-678-4620 x204.
Protection From Abuse Order Assistance
Center for Victims has trained advocates available 24 hours per day to assist those seeking Protection From Abuse (PFA) Orders, including Emergency Orders that must be obtained during evening, weekend and holiday hours. Staff will assist with all aspects of the PFA filing process, including consult, options and safety planning, explanation of courtroom procedures, and assistance with filing the PFA. Recognizing the need to provide better access to the court system, the Center also supports Emergency Protection From Abuse Orders satellites in local hospitals. If appropriate, this video teleconferencing system allows domestic violence victims to interface directly with night court in the safety of their local hospital environment. This system is currently active at UPMC McKeesport and Jefferson Regional Medical Center.
Counseling & Safety Planning
Center for Victims works individually with a domestic violence victim either in person or over the telephone to develop a personalized safety plan tailored to the victim’s particular circumstances and needs. Staff provides Options Counseling which offers the victim information, resources, advocacy and education for the purpose of restoring the victim’s sense of dignity, power and control. Domestic Violence victims can also meet face to face with a Domestic Violence counselor to assist the victim in coping with the crisis. This service is provided to both residential and non-residential clients. If you are an employer who has an employee experiencing domestic violence, Center for Victims can work in collaboration with your Employee Assistance Program to provide domestic violence specific counseling and support services.
Children’s Advocacy and Counseling
Center for Victims recognizes that children who live in homes where partner abuse occurs can also be affected. For children residing in our shelter or transitional housing programs, the Child Advocate provides a safe and comforting atmosphere where children can participate in enjoyable activities in addition to receiving age appropriate counseling and therapeutic services. The Child Advocate also assists with school enrollment, connections to early childhood development and other helpful resources, and advocates on the child’s behalf to ensure all of their needs are met. Individual counseling and advocacy services are also available to children who are not residing in our shelter or transitional housing program.
Victims of domestic violence often present at local hospitals or medical facilities due to physical injuries. Center for Victims collaborates with the medical community to ensure that our service information is distributed to patients. Medical personnel can refer patients to our staff for an array of comprehensive services including safety planning, shelter, legal advocacy and accompaniment, and counseling. Center for Victims will advocate for victims throughout the medical system.
Sexual Assault Services
Medical Advocacy & Accompaniment
Following an incident of violence, victims may need medical attention. In sexual assault cases, Center for Victims is available to respond to hospitals as support persons for the victim and their loved ones throughout their experience. Staff assists the victim through police interviews, medical procedures and evidence collection. They provide crisis counseling, help address safety concerns and financial concerns about medical bills. Staff explains the next steps in the legal process, links the victim to the range of services available, and empowers them to make informed decisions.