Q&A with Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence

We recently had a chance to talk with Judy Yupcavage, the Communications Director for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. We talked about the challenges involved in getting support and resources to domestic violence victims, as well as national headlines and the impact of Marcellus Shale gas drilling on housing for victims. We also identified resources available to victims in Columbia and Montour counties. If you or someone you love are affected by domestic violence, please take advantage of the resources readily available and the many people who want to help.

1. Can you tell us a little about your organization?

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) – the nation’s first state domestic violence coalition – is a private, nonprofit organization with a statewide office in Harrisburg and a network of 60 community-based domestic violence programs across the commonwealth. We work collectively to build stronger, safer communities . We do this through prevention, intervention and social change strategies designed to shift public attitudes and break the generational cycle of violence; ensure free and confidential services to victims and their children in need; and secure sweeping laws and public policies that protect victims and hold batterers accountable.

2. There have been some startling developments in domestic violence policy recently, including Topeka, Kansas’ decision to decriminalize domestic violence. Can you talk about some of these decisions and how it impacts your job?

One of the primary reasons individuals batter is because they can. When there are no consequences, violence flourishes. All of the social and criminal justice systems are over-burdened and working with larger caseloads and fewer resources; however, the answer isn’t to ignore the risks that violent offenders pose to individuals and the community at large.

3. We recently heard that you are having difficulty finding housing for victims because of Marcellus Shale drilling employees taking up the available surplus. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

We’re hearing from domestic violence programs in gas drilling regions that safe and affordable housing (to rent and to buy) is becoming scarce with the influx of industry workers. Moreover, many of the programs’ clients report that their landlords are raising rents, sometimes so high that they are forced to relocate. Additionally, hotel and motel rooms are in short supply. As gas drilling expands, many fear the shortage of housing will be even more of problem for battered victims attempting to escape violent relationships.

4. What are the biggest challenges you face?

One of greatest challenges is stabilizing long-term funding for core services, such as hotlines, shelter and counseling, and for public education and prevention initiatives. The impact of a troubled economy has hit our programs hard. Their resources continue to diminish while operating costs continue to rise, along with requests for help from victims, many who are forced to remain in shelter longer because they have fewer housing and job options available to them.

Another major challenge is changing public perceptions that domestic violence is something less than a crime, nothing more than a private matter between sparring couples. Getting people to recognize that domestic violence is deadly and preventable is an on-going effort, as is getting people to step up and speak up if they see or hear domestic violence. We say, “there is always something you can do to help.”

Victim-blaming is a huge problem. From the outside looking in, people really don’t get a clear picture of what goes on inside homes where domestic violence is a way of life. They don’t see the fear that punctuates a family’s actions/interactions or the imposed isolation that limits their connection to the outside world. They also don’t see the lengths family members go to avoid further abuse, the many attempts they’ve made to be safe, or the hidden barriers that limit their ability to break free of the violence.

Responding to the alarming rate of domestic violence-related fatlities in PA also poses tremendous challenges. Domestic violence can be, and often is, as brutal and deadly as any stranger-on-stranger crime. Yet many people, including victims themselves, often underestimate its potential for lethality. PCADV is initiating training – beginning with domestic violence program advocates, law enforcement and health care providers – on the use of danger assessment screening tools that have the potential to enhance the safety of victims, law enforcement and the community at large, and prevent future homicides.

5. What are the warning signs that friends and families can look out for?

Certainly the physical results of battering – unexplained or suspicious bruises, broken bones. Other signs: Does person have repeated injuries and bruises that do not seem accidental? Does person fear partner’s temper or jealousy? Is person isolated from friends and family? Does person have repeated mental health and stress issues such as depression, suicide attempts, substance abuse, headaches and ulcers? Does partner exert an unusual amount of control over the person? Does person appear exhausted, frightened, or on edge? Have you noticed a change in behavior of person’s children? Do they seem easily upset or are they experiencing problems in school or with other activities?  At the end of this article, we will attach a list of things you can do to help domestic violence victims.

6. Can you talk about the victims a bit? We realize there is no “typical” victim, but we want to put a human face on victims. Can you tell us what their overwhelming emotions are?

Domestic violence victims come from all walks of life, all professions, income and education levels. They are teenagers and senior citizens. The one emotion many share in common is fear – fear for their safety and that of their children. Fear of retaliation if they leave; fear of losing custody of their children; and fear of living in povery or being homeless. They also feel pressure – pressure from the abuser, children, family, faith leaders and others to stay in the relationship. They often feel hopeless, isolated and judged.

7. Is there anything else that you would like to share? How can we help spread your message?

Anytime you report on domestic violence, please include information that free and confidential help – right in your own community – is just a phone call away, and publish the local domestic violence hotline and the national domestic violence hotline (800-799-7233).

If you or someone you care about might be impacted by domestic violence, in Columbia and Montour counties you can contact the Women’s Center.  Their phone number is 570-784-6631 and their hotline number is 1-800-544-8293. Click here to find resources in other areas.

How You Can Help Domestic Violence Victims

Friends or family members who are being abused:

  • Call police if you see/hear abuse
  • Ask if they’re safe or need someone to talk to
  • Explain that FREE and CONFIDENTIAL help is available help for victims and their children at local domestic violence programs
  • Offer a ride to a local shelter, a place to make a phone call or to baby-sit while they attend appointments

Friends or family members who are abusers:

  • Call police if you see/hear abuse
  • Tell them there are no excuses for abuse and they may lose their families, friends, homes and jobs if it doesn’t stop
  • Hold them accountable for their behavior
  • Support their efforts to locate and obtain appropriate batterer intervention treatment

Your local domestic violence program:

  • Volunteer your time
  • Make monetary donations or donate phone cards, gift certificates, bus tickets, etc.
  • Offer to board pets or livestock while victims are in shelter
  • Sponsor a family for a holiday meal, holiday gifts, etc.
Photo by ghetto_guera29

Flood Help and Events

Julie Kuntz Klingerman is the adminstrator of the Helping Neighbors – Bloomsburg Flood 2011 Facebook group.  She will be helping us compile flood-related help and events.

The “Turn the Page” book drive is in full swing at the Columbia Mall near Dunham’s.  Over 30,000 books are available for children of all ages who have lost their libraries.  The books are being handed out for free, and children of all ages may choose up to a dozen books.  The hours are:

 

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – Closed
Thursday – 4:00 – 7:00
Friday – 4:00 – 7:00
Saturday – 1:00 – 7:00
Sunday – 1:00 – 5:00

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AGAPE still needs volunteers as the continually changing needs of the community evolve.  Specifically, help is needed:

  • at the information desk on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p. m. answering the phone, handing out applications, and filling supplies requests.
  • at the storehouse to lift, load and unload store donations, sort clothing, and help fill supply requests from the information desk
  • at Freedom Hall at the fairgrounds to load and unload furniture on Monday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Tuesday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • for Flood Survivor Recovery Assistance as experienced caseworkers or those willing to be trained
  • for skilled dry-wallers, licensed electricians and licensed plumbers

AGAPE may be contacted at 317-2210 or at agaperelief@gmail.com

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The Bloomsburg Area YMCA will be hosting a ZUMBA party November 5th from 4 – 6 p.m. to raise money for AGAPE.  Admission is $10; free for AGAPE volunteers with badge.  Zumba-wear t-shirts are available for $10, with all proceeds benefitting AGAPE as well.

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The Catawissa Christian Church, 102 Main Street is offering clothing, some furniture, large and small appliances, toys, pet supplies, and a variety of food and household items to flood victims on Saturday, November 5th from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.  *No FEMA numbers required, no questions asked.*  The church is also accepting donations that may be dropped off outside the door of the church on Monday-Friday from 4:30 – 9:00 p.m.  Needed:  men’s, women’s,  and children’s clothing, especially for winter, canned goods, bedding, towels, dishes, Christmas decorations, pet supplies, books, and small appliances.  To donate furniture, please call ahead: Coleen, 594-2750, Maureen, 441-2749 or Sue, 356-2364.

Julie Kuntz Klingerman for The Bloomsburg Daily

Current Flood Resources for Victims and Donors

While the clean up from the 2011 Flood continues in Bloomsburg, it is helpful to once again alert everyone to the various needs and resources in town.  The Bloomsburg Chapter of the American Red Cross has provided the following information.  If you have additional items that would be helpful to include (or changes to the information), please email or comment below.

Give Blood
For information on the nearest donation time and place or to schedule a donation, please call 1‐800‐RED‐CROSS or 1‐800‐432‐8045.

Office on Aging Help
People over 60 may call 1-570-784‐9272 for flood‐related help.  In addition, there is an office representative at the FEMA Center on 702 Sawmill Road.

Financial Help with Flood­-Related Expenses
Please report your damage to home or business to both the following numbers or offices:

Columbia County Emergency Center at 1-570­-389­-5606 or 1-570-389-­5665
FEMA National at 1-­800­-621­-3362, or in person at 702 Sawmill Rd.

FEMA Center
The center is located at 702 Sawmill Road. Go there to apply for financial help. The office is open from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. It might be helpful to call the FEMA number or visit their website first (below). The kind of help likely to be provided by FEMA includes 1) rental money for homeowners and renters, 2) grants to get working basic house systems (heating, refrig, sewage, water systems); and 3) low‐interest loans for home repair and personal property. For details on this and other kinds of help, see the FEMA and PEMA links on the following websites:

www.agapelovefromabove.org
fema.gov
www.pema.state.pa.us

Flood-Related Unemployment Assistance
Applicants may file for Disaster Unemployment Assistance by calling toll free at 877-FILE DUA (877-345-3382), from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.  Individuals using a text telephone (TTY) may call toll free at 888-334-4046.   Click here for more information.

Small Business Association Loans
See the SBA representative at the FEMA Center, 702 Sawmill Road.

Utility Bills Assistance
The Salvation Army may provide help.  Please call 1-570-387‐4112 or try Human Services at 1-570-387‐6501.

Housing
To find replacement housing to purchase or rent for flood victims, call 1‐ 877‐428‐8844 or on the web go to www.PAHousingSearch.comFirst Columbia Bank is providing low‐interest loans.

Heating or Fuel Leaks
Please call the Department  of Environmental Protection at 1-570-327‐3636.

Electrical Damage
For reports of electrical damage, please call PP&L at 1‐800‐342‐5775.

Free Carpeting
Bloomsburg Carpet Industries may be providing carpet to those in need.

Legal Resources
Please call 1‐877‐861‐8589.

Well ­Testing Kits
Available from FEMA at 702 Sawmill Road.

Pastoral Counseling
Counseling is available from the following pastors regardless of affiliation:

  • Maggie Gillespie, Campus Ministry, 1-570-854‐1117
  • Doug Lyon, Shiloh Bible Church, 1-570-336‐6766 or 1-570-784‐3667
  • Jeff Bohan, St. Luke’s, 1-570-784‐5035
  • Jenn Parks‐Snyder, 1-570-784‐9271 or 1-570-784‐5165
  • Jane O’Borski, Wesley Methodist, 1-570-784‐1407 or 1-570-784‐3251
  • Joel Zeiders, 1-570-784‐4515
  • Terry Brosius, 1-570-387‐0140 or 1-570-389‐1282
  • Jay Jones, 1-570-784‐1407 or 1-814‐592‐5355

Donations of Money or Other Items and Volunteer Workers

Send or bring cash or checks to:

  • Bloomsburg Red Cross
    119 E. 7th St., Bloomsburg, PA 17815
    Please make payable to “American Red Cross Disaster Relief” and include the memo line: Bloomsburg Chapter
  • Agape, 19 E. 7th St., Bloomsburg, PA 17815 Memo line : Flood relief
  • Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, 725 Front St., Berwick 18603 Memo line: “Disaster Relief Fund for Susquehanna Valley”
  • Columbia Mall, at Mall Services Office
  • Salvation Army, 320 E. 2nd St. Berwick 18603

*It is not possible to donate online to the Red Cross from another area and have it designated for flood relief in this area. Nor is it possible to donate by telephone. Donors are asked to send checks to the local office.
Important Information and Numbers

  • Agape  1-570-317‐2210 http://www.agapelovefromabove.org/
  • Bloomsburg Flood Hotline  1-570-784‐6779
  • Columbia County 1-570-389‐5728
  • National FEMA number 1‐800‐621‐3362
  • Local PEMA numbers 1-570-389‐5606, 1-570-389‐5665 , 1-570-389‐5720
  • Hemlock Township 1-570-784‐6178; 1-570-336‐7297
  • No. Col. County Cultural Center 1-570-925‐0163
  • Bloomsburg Red Cross 1-570-784‐1395
  • Scott Township listen to WHLM
  • St. Repres. David Millard : flood‐related 1-570-387‐0246, or visit 240 Market St.
  • St. Sen. John Gordner : flood‐related 1-570-784‐3464
  • Salvation Army 1-570-387‐4112; 1-570-759‐1214
  • St.Luke’s 1-570-784-5035
  • Agape at Moose Exchange 862‐812‐9855 (Hours 1-6pm on Monday and Thursday and 10-2pm on Saturday)

Columbia County Emergency Management Agency
www.columbiacountyema.org has the following information:

  • Food and Water Safety During Floods
  • Disinfecting Private Wells
  • Safety tips for dealing with flooded property
  • American Red Cross Flood Survival Guide
  • Health Threats from Flood Waters