It was Christmas Eve 1976 and a woman and her two young children were in need of shelter and a safe haven from domestic abuse. Thankfully, they found the help they needed. Several local women had begun to set up Bucks County’s first domestic violence safe shelter in a small apartment in Sellersville and it was available when needed. Over forty years later, A Woman’s Place (AWP) continues to provide free, confidential service to victims of domestic violence and their families.
The organization’s many programs tackle the issue of domestic violence from several angles. Projects are concentrated under three headings – Prevention, Safe Options and Empowerment. Within the many programs clients receive support, education, counseling, advocacy, legal services and more.
The first method of breaking the cycle of domestic violence is to educate the community and get everyone working together. Law enforcement, children and youth and faith-based groups receive training in relevant topics. The Coaching Boys into Men initiative guides athletic coaches in how to develop positive character and respect in their players.
Secondly, victims are provided important tools, education and resources to move into healthier and safer living situations. A 24-hour hotline, first response teams and legal advocacy are key parts of this project.
Finally, local communities are strengthened and empowered to flourish through free monthly workshops. Healthy U, a program run in partnership with the YMCA, encourages high school age girls to develop strong minds and bodies and healthy relationships.
One way communities can support AWP is by showing support for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month during February. AWP is working with their Young Adult Advisory Board and Bucks high schools to create awareness of dating violence. Events throughout the month will encourage teens to pursue healthy, respectful relationships and look out for their friends. AWP reaches over 6,000 students annually through its work in local school districts.
To learn more about A Woman’s Place visit their website at awomansplace.org.
BY BETSY NATTER