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Safe Berks Response to Domestic Violence Tragedy in Berks County

Jul 15, 2021
Safe Berks

 “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. 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, call the 24-hour hotline at 844-789-SAFE (7233) or text SAFE BERKS to 20121. Anyone in immediate danger should call 911.

“Domestic violence can happen to anyone,” said Garrigan. “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 much more common and more lethal than most people realize. 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 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 at:

Information is available on the Safe Berks website at For more information about how to help as a volunteer or donor, please contact Mindy McIntosh, Director of Development, at [email protected] or 610-468-9637.

For information about our Volunteer Advocate Training program, contact Delio Santana, Manager of Education and Outreach Programs, at [email protected] 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.”

Lethality Assessment Program (LAP)

Safe Berks works closely with local police departments to serve survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Our Legal Department provides training to police departments on how to utilize the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP). This tool can help police identify situations where violence can quickly become lethal. For more info about LAP or to request training, email [email protected].

Red Flags of Domestic Violence and Abuse

It can be very difficult to acknowledge that you yourself, or someone you are close to, is experiencing relationship or family violence. Abusers go to great lengths to control their victim, their interactions, and everyday life. Common red flags of abuse include:

  • Name calling or demeaning comments
  • Someone that seems too good to be true early in a relationship; the relationship may advance very quickly
  • Frequent phone calls or texts
  • Threatens to harm or kill you, your pet(s) or family members
  • Blames you for the abusive behavior; does not take responsibility for actions
  • Prevents you from spending time with family or friends and from enjoying hobbies and other activities
  • Damages your credit by exceeding limits, purposely not paying bills; may restrict your access to financial resources

Identifying abuse toward others

Knowing if someone you care about is in an abusive situation can be very difficult. However, there are some common warning signs:

  • Their partner puts them down in front of other people
  • They are constantly worried about making their partner angry
  • They make excuses for their partner’s behavior
  • Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive
  • They have unexplained marks or injuries
  • They’ve stopped spending time with friends and family
  • They are depressed or anxious, or you notice changes in their personality

Abusers are skilled at using power and control over their victims, which can make leaving the situation difficult and dangerous. One of the best ways to help someone in abusive situation is to listen to them. Let them know you care and that free help is available. Help them understand that they are not responsible for, nor do they deserve the abuse. Encourage them to call 911 if they are in immediate danger, to seek the help of an advocate, or to contact Safe Berks, call our 24-hour hotline 844-789-SAFE (7233) or text SAFE BERKS to 20121.

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