If you have experienced sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, you are not alone.

On Campus

Health and Counseling Services

To request a routine appointment, include your information for a return call:

If you are in crisis and need urgent attention:

  • Campus Police, call: +1 (412) 578-6007
  • Resolve Crisis Services, call +1 (888) 796-8226

Telehealth services are available through several sources, including Health and Counseling Services and possibly your health insurance plan. If you would like assistance getting connected to telehealth services, you may contact Health and Counseling Services or your insurance plan.

Pittsburgh Area Services

Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR) is the only organization in Allegheny County devoted solely to the issue of sexual violence. PAAR provides comprehensives services for victims and offers prevention programs to end sexual violence in our community. They are located in the Southside neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Services for survivors

  • Free, confidential helpline available 24/7 to help those in crisis, or those requesting information
  • Live chat with a helpline worker using PAAR’s Chat Portal
  • Get information and support by sending a text message to: +1 (866) 363-7273
  • Emergency room support: An in-person advocate will accompany victims and their families in area emergency rooms to provide support and information through the medical exam.
  • Legal advocacy and support through the legal process: An in-person advocate will accompany victims and their families to police
  • and court proceedings.
  • Adult Counseling: Individual and group counseling is provided to adult male and female victims of sexual violence.
  • Child & Family Counseling: Individual trauma-focused counseling is provided to children who have been sexually abused. PAAR also offers supportive counseling to family members.

Visit PAAR’s website to learn more about PAAR, the services they provide, and upcoming events. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @paarnews for updates as they happen and to interact with them and their community of supporters.

Women and Children’s Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh (WC&S)

24-Hour Hotline: +1 (412) 867-8005

24-Hour Text Support: +1 (412) 744-8445

Women’s Center & Shelter has been a trusted and respected resource in the Pittsburgh Community for more than 45 years, offering hope and healing to survivors and children who have suffered from the devastating effects of domestic abuse. WC&S supports survivors who have experienced all types of abuse. It provides a 24-hour hotline and specialized care and support for survivors who have experienced all types of intimate partner violence. They have an emergency shelter, legal advocacy services, support groups, outreach programs for LGBTQ+ individuals, support services for immigrants and refugees, educational programs, and men’s groups.

Center for Victims

24-Hour Hotline: +1 (866) 644-2882

Center for Victims offers services for individuals who experience sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and other crimes. Services include counseling, legal support, medical advocacy, emergency shelter, assistance obtaining protection orders and safety planning.

Victim Outreach Intervention Center (VOICe) – Butler County 

Hotline: +1 (800) 400-8551

TTY Access: +1 (724) 776-6739

Phone: +1 (724) 283-8700

Email: voice@voiceforvictims.com

Voice provides confidential services at no cost to individuals and families who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes. VOICe works within Butler County, PA to bring about social change and provide survivors with the ability to take control of their lives.

Blackburn Center (Westmoreland County) 

Phone: +1 (888) 832-2272

Blackburn Center provides services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and sexual harassment, and hate crimes in Westmoreland County. Services include a hotline, emergency shelter, counseling, support groups, medical advocacy, and legal system support. 1976, Blackburn Center has been providing services to victims of domestic and sexual violence

PERSAD

Phone: +1 (412) 441-9786

Email: info@persadcenter.org

Persad Center is dedicated to improving the well-being of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning) communities and the HIV/AIDS communities in Western Pennsylvania. Through a variety of outreach, prevention, counseling, advocacy, and training services, we work to resolve problems faced by the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities. We are here for you, no matter what you’re going through. Please call us to learn more about counseling and support.

Garden of Peace

Phone: +1 (412) 879-0477 

Email: info@gardenofpeaceproject.org

Garden of Peace Project is based in Pittsburgh, PA and was founded in 2012 by Rev. Michael David Battle to center black queer and trans youth, elevate and empower the narratives and lived experiences of black youth and their caretakers, and guide revolutionary spaces of healing and truth through art, education, and mentorship. The Healing Justice Advocacy Project centers healing, justice, and advocacy. We are led by individuals who sit at the intersections of identities, experiences, and beliefs. We are a community of black and native parents, women, queer and trans healers, artists, and young people committed to revolutionary changes for our Selves and each other.

Obtaining Protection from Abuse Orders

Filing a Protection from Abuse Order

You may be able to obtain immediate, court-mandated protection through a civil Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order, regardless of whether criminal charges are filed against your abuser. 

The PFA order can do any or all of the following:

  • Order the abuser to stop the violent or abusive behavior and refrain from harassing, contacting, or stalking you
  • Exclude the abuser from your residence
  • Grant temporary custody of your minor children to you
  • Order the abuser to turn over weapons to the police

You can obtain a PFA Order at:

440 Ross Street

Room 3030

Hours: Monday through Friday – between 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. 

The process may take several hours, so we recommend showing up as early as possible.

When you are ready to file a PFA, make sure you have the following documents with you:

  • Driver’s license or passport

Once you complete a PFA petition, you will need to appear at a court hearing before the judge. The abuser and subject of the PFA may or may not be present at this hearing. If you have young children that need supervision, the Family Court will provide a free and secure children’s playroom on site.

If you are facing financial or other limitations, you can also file for a Temporary PFA without the payment of any fees. Our Legal Advocates can provide you with information regarding the availability of free legal representation, if necessary.

All Family Court proceedings take place at the Allegheny County Family & Juvenile Court, located at 440 Ross Street, Room 3030 in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The Court’s PFA Unit staff and domestic violence program advocates will also be available to assist and support you in filing a PFA petition. If you are unable to safely wait for a hearing in Family Court on a weekday between 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., Emergency PFA Orders are available. 

You can obtain one at either:

  • Magisterial District Judge’s Office in your community on any afternoon that the office is open
  • Allegheny County Night Court (+1 (412) 350-3240), 660 First Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 on weekdays after 3:00 p.m., and 24 hours a day on weekends and holidays

If the PFA is violated:

  • Immediately call 911 and request police support. Local law enforcement may be able to arrest the defendant for violating the PFA Order.
  • If the police do not arrest the defendant immediately, you can take a copy of your PFA Order to either your local District Judge’s office or to Night Court and file a Complaint for Indirect Criminal Contempt for Violation of a PFA Order. An arrest warrant may then be issued so that the defendant may be arrested. (Courtesy of Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh)

Legal Services

National Hotlines and Resources

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: +1 (800) 799-7233 or TTY: +1 (800) 787-3224
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: +1 (800) 656-4673
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), Support for those who experience sexual assault: +1 (800) 656-4673 or Chat online
  • The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: +1 (888) 843-4564
  • National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: +1 (866) 331-9474 or TTY: +1 (866) 331-8456 
  • National Deaf Domestic Violence Hotline, by video phone: +1 (855) 812-1001
  • National Stalking Resource Center
  • Women of Color Resources
  • For Non-US Citizens

Medical Services

  • Magee Women’s Hospital (300 Halket Street, Pittsburgh), phone: +1 (866)-MyMagee
  • UPMC Mercy (1400 Locus Street, Pittsburgh): +1 (412) 232-8111
  • PAAR is available 24/7 to respond to any emergency room in Allegheny County. Medical advocates provide in-person support and information to victims during the medical exam and initial police interview. To request medical advocacy services, contact PAAR’s Helpline.

Q&A

Question: What options do I have if I choose to go to the hospital?

Answer: You have the option to receive immediate attention and care including checking for injuries. You could also choose to complete a sexual assault exam for the collection of evidence. You have the option to report to the police – You can receive care and complete the evidence collection whether you report to police or not.

Medical personnel might ask a few questions in order to provide the best possible care. It is important to mention any pain, injuries, or other concerns you might have. You have the right to choose what care you receive and the right to refuse care, including the sexual assault exam, when you go to the hospital.

Question: What is a ‘rape kit’?

Answer: A sexual assault exam (sometimes called the “kit”) is a medical exam and collection of forensic evidence. It attempts to collect evidence to use in the prosecution of a sexual assault. You can complete the exam/have evidence collected without reporting the incident to police.

The sooner you get to the hospital after an assault, the more options are available to you. It is recommended that you go to the hospital within 7 days of the incident. Try not to bathe, shower, brush your teeth, or go to the bathroom. This is important for preserving evidence. If you already have, it is still possible to collect evidence.

If possible, do not change your clothes. If you already have, put your clothes in a clean paper bag and bring them with you to the hospital.

Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act 

PA ACT 27 was enacted in 2015 and requires a comprehensive and precise process for the testing of evidence and notification of victims and qualifies PA for federal funding to test backlogged or untested forensic exam kits. Includes:

  • Requires the Department of Health to designate laboratories approved to receive and test sexual assault evidence.
  • Directs law enforcement to take possession of evidence within 72 hours of receiving notice from health care facilities.
  • Directs local authorities to submit evidence within 15 days to an approved laboratory, which would have to complete testing within six months.
  • Mandates annual reports on testing backlogs and permits authorities to upload testing results into databases to help solve related sexual assault cases.
  • Requires notification to victims or surviving family when DNA testing has been completed.
  • Allows for kits and evidence to be held for no less than two years if the victim is not ready to move forward with prosecution or has given the evidence anonymously.
  • Requires that victims are informed of timelines and testing results. 
  • Allows victims time to decide about their options in pursuing evidence testing and investigation. 

For more information: Go to Pennsylvania General Assembly’s website and type “2015HB272” in the search box.

For more information about crime victims rights in PA: Office of Victim Advocate

Warning Signs that someone you know may have experienced sexual assault: 

Additional information from Rainn

Self-Care (Adapted from: Love is Respect) 

  • Seek Out Supportive People: A caring presence such as a trusted friend or family member can help create a calm atmosphere to think through difficult situations. A supportive person listens with empathy. They also can help you discuss potential options. A supportive person does not tell you what to do or blame you for the problem.
  • Identify and Work Towards Achievable Goals: An achievable goal might be calling a local resource and seeing what services are available in your area or talking to an advocate. Remember that you don’t have to do anything you aren’t comfortable with right now but taking small steps can help maximize your options in the future.
  • Create a Peaceful Space for Yourself: Designating a physical place where your mind can relax and feel safe can be good option when working through difficult emotions that can arise when dealing with abuse. This can be a room in your house, a spot under your favorite tree, a comfy chair by a window or in a room with low lights.
  • Remind Yourself of Your Great Value: You are important and special, and recognizing and reminding yourself of this reality is so beneficial for your emotional health. It is never your fault when someone chooses to be abusive to you, and it has no reflection on the great value you have as person.
  • Remember That You Deserve to Be Kind to Yourself: Taking time to practice self-care every day, even if it is only for a few minutes, really creates space for peace and emotional safety. It’s healthy to give yourself emotional breaks and step back from your situation sometimes. Mindfulness or breathing exercises can help keep you centered. In the end, this can help you make the decisions that are best for you.

Helping a Loved One (Adapted from: PAAR Healing Manual)

As friends and family members, you can help someone who has experienced harm. Try to remember:

Listen and be supportive. Provide comfort and support through listening without judgment and without asking ‘why’ questions. Even when you don’t understand or agree with how they are handling the situation, don’t judge. Your support can help reassure them and validate their feelings and reactions. You can do this by:

  • Using supportive language:
    • “I am so sorry to hear that happened to you.”
    • “I am glad you felt you could share this with me.”
    • “Please know I am here.”
    • “I believe you and I want to help.”
    • “Do you know what might feel helpful?”
    •  “Wow, that sounds really hard.”
    • “It took a lot of courage and strength for you to share that with me.”
    • “I know other people who have experienced sexual violence and abuse, and what you are sharing with me is not at all uncommon.”
    • “Your feelings are normal.”
  • Help build up their self-esteem. Avoid blaming or belittling comments.
  • Listen, Don’t Push
    • Let them talk. Allow them to express feelings in their own time. Do not push the victim to talk or share. Let them know you are there to listen when they are ready.
  • Believe them – If they tell you about a situation that caused them harm, this means they trust you. Validating their experience can be an important step in keeping the lines of communication open and in helping them to recover from harm.
    • “I believe you and I am sorry that happened to you.”
    • “It took a lot of courage for you to share that with me.”
  • Empower through helping them to think through their options. Allow the victim to make choices and resist telling them what to do. All power and control were taken from the victim during the assault and making decisions can give back a feeling of control.
    • “Do you know what might feel helpful?”
    • “You get to decide with whom to share this.”
  • Educate yourself and share information and resources with them. Learn more about common reactions to sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking so you can better understand your loved one. Start with the resources on this website. PAAR, Women’s Center and Shelter, and Center for Victims are a good start.
  • Connect them to resources and information in their area. Chat with a peer advocate to find information to share.
  • Don’t post information about your loved one on social media. Never reveal their current location, where they have been, or where they will plan to hang out. It’s possible that someone will use your post to find them. Learn more about digital safety in the safety planning section.
  • Help them implement their safety plan – offer to walk them to their car, check in on them, make sure they get home safely.
  • Sometimes they will not want to talk or may not feel anything is wrong. In these cases, let them know you are there for them when they need you.

If You Harmed Someone

If you are concerned you may have harmed someone, support is available.

Health and Counseling Services

To request a routine appointment, include your information for a return call:

If you are in crisis and need urgent attention:

  • Campus Police, call: +1 (412) 578-6007
  • Resolve Crisis Services, call +1 (888) 796-8226

Telehealth services are available through several sources, including Health and Counseling Services and possibly your health insurance plan. If you would like assistance getting connected to telehealth services, you may contact Health and Counseling Services or your insurance plan.

Women’s Center and Shelter, MENS Group

Phone: +1 (412) 687-8017 x340

If you think you are abusing your partner or may possess abusive tendencies, the MENS Group is here to help. As part of Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, one of the nation’s first women’s shelters, the MENS Group offers counseling and support to help men understand their situation and gain control of their feelings. 

Persad Center, Inc.

Phone: +1 (412) 441-9786

Email: BIP@persadcenter.org 

Persad Center, Inc. is the nation’s second oldest licensed mental health center specifically created to serve the LGBTQ+ community. Domestic violence occurs in about 1 out of 4 relationships. Same-sex couples experience the same rate of violence in their relationships. Persad Center’s Battering Intervention Program seeks to help individuals who are involved in these relationships to end the violence. Persad Center helps individuals to examine the negative patterns in their relationships, how to spot the triggers for violence, and teaches skills to stop the cycles of abuse. Participants in our program are taught to recognize and communicate their thoughts and feelings more effectively. This program will help you to fulfill your requirements for the court as well.

If you have been arrested during a same-sex domestic violence incident, we can help. Persad offers a program that helps you to examine your violent reactions, your triggers and feelings, and helps you to learn new behaviors.

Legal Advice

  • FACE
  • SAVE
  • Neighborhood Legal Services, call: +1 (412) 255-6700

Information on false accusations: Read The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness article

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