READING, Pa. | Following an apparent domestic abuse situation in Berks County that turned fatal, resulting in one death, Safe Berks has released a statement aimed at victims of domestic abuse.
“Safe Berks stands with all domestic violence victims, and their families and friends,” said Beth Garrigan, Safe Berks CEO. “Most of us enjoy our homes as a place of peace and comfort. But home is not a safe place for everyone and in fact, for some it is the most dangerous place of all.”
Safe Berks provides free and confidential services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, officials say. All services are available in English and Spanish, and translation will be utilized for any other language needed.
For crisis services, including requests for shelter or medical advocacy, Safe Berks asks people call the 24-hour hotline at 844-789-SAFE (7233) or text SAFE BERKS to 20121.
Anyone in immediate danger should call 911.
“The news of yet another apparent domestic violence tragedy hits our staff hard,” said Garrigan. “We work so intensely to prevent these tragedies. We want to let the community know that we need the help of everyone in Berks County to stop these senseless crimes.”
“Domestic violence can happen to anyone,” Garrigan conintued. “Some victims of domestic violence suffer years in silence and its effects often extend beyond physical injury. Many times, abuse is not reported to others out of fear and/or due to the stigma surrounding domestic violence, and it can be very difficult to acknowledge that you, or someone you are close to, is experiencing domestic violence. Abusers go to great lengths to control their victim, their interactions, and everyday life. It is a public health crisis that infiltrates homes and communities and compromises the safety and well-being of whole families and creates a lasting impact, especially when children are involved. We know that lives have been saved because of connecting victims with domestic violence services so we want people to know, we are here to help victims of domestic violence, and their families who are impacted by the abuse. Anytime, day or night, we are only a phone call away.”
Unfortunately, domestic violence is more common and more lethal than most some may realize, organization officials note. Safe Berks serves thousands of survivors each year. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
According to Safe Berks records, 71 Berks County residents were killed by domestic violence since 1999. Each October, Safe Berks honors and remembers local victims of domestic violence at our annual Silent Witness March & Dedication.
Safe Berks officials say that their services include shelter, counseling, legal services including assistance with requesting Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders, medical advocacy, and education.
Information about how to request a Protection From Abuse order in Berks County is available online.
Information is available on the Safe Berks website as well. For more information about how to help as a volunteer or donor, please contact Mindy McIntosh, Director of Development, at MindyM@SafeBerks.org or 610-468-9637.
For information about our Volunteer Advocate Training program, contact Delio Santana, Manager of Education and Outreach Programs, at DelioS@SafeBerks.org or 610-370-7811.
“Our Education and Outreach team has been attending community events this summer and will be physically back in schools this year, providing crucial education about healthy relationships,” said Garrigan. “They use a curriculum aimed at preventing domestic violence and sexual assault.”