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Are You A Victim of Violence?

It is not always easy to know if you are a victim of violence. If you are not sure if you have been a crime victim, call your local police and speak to an officer about the details of your situation. You can also contact a counselor/advocate at Women’s Services. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

Below is a checklist that may help you identify if you are a victim of certain crimes:

You may be a victim of Intimate Partner Violence or Family Violence or Elder Abuse if your partner, your former partner, or a family member:

  • Keeps track of all of your time
  • Constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
  • Makes you feel uncomfortable or afraid
  • Discourages your relationships with family and friends
  • Prevents you from working or attending school
  • Criticizes you for the little things
  • Angers easily when drinking or using drugs
  • Controls your finances and forces you to account for what you spend
  • Humiliates you in front of others
  • Destroys personal property or sentimental items
  • Hits, punches, slaps, kicks, or bites you or your children
  • Threatens to hurt you, your family, or your pets
  • Uses or threatens to use a weapon against you
  • Forces you to have sex against your will

You may be a victim of Stalking if someone:

  • Is repeatedly following you or showing up wherever you are, and making you feel uncomfortable or afraid.
  • Is repeatedly calling you, or sending you texts or emails, or posts on your social media accounts things that are harassing or make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Has left you unwanted gifts, notes, or messages.
  • Has damaged your car, home, or other belongings.
  • Uses hidden cameras or GPS (global positioning systems) to track where you go.
  • Has threatened to hurt you or someone you know.

You may be a victim of Human Trafficking if you:

  • Are not free to leave your work or living space, or come and go as you wish.
  • Are unpaid, paid very little, or only paid through tips.
  • Are not allowed breaks, or forced to work extremely long hours.
  • Owe your boss a large debt and are unable to pay it off.
  • Were recruited through false promises about the type of work you would be doing, and/or the conditions you would be working in.
  • Are under 18 and are paid to perform sexual acts.
  • Are a sex worker and have a pimp/manager.
  • Are not in control of your own money or possessions.
  • Are not allowed to keep your own identification documents (like your passport or license)


Trauma-informed counselors are available to assist you as you sort out your feelings. You can meet and talk with others who are in abusive relationships as well as those who have left their abusers. Counselor/Advocates are knowledgeable about a variety of topics and can assist you with your legal rights, emergency and long-term housing options, public assistance programs, school options, job information, and will help you navigate the criminal/civil justice systems and network of local social service agencies.


Women’s Services operates an 18-bed emergency shelter facility called The Greenhouse.  It is located in the city of Meadville, PA.  The Greenhouse is a safe place for victims and their children if temporarily displaced.  While sheltering, victims/survivors can take time to consider their options and to make plans regarding their immediate future.  At The Greenhouse, victims/survivors will be with other individuals who face some of the same challenges.

Also available in Pennsylvania:

PA Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification (PA SAVIN)

  • PA SAVIN provides access to information and notification about the status of offenders in County Jails, State Prisons or on State Parole. This automated service is available to registrants over the phone, through the internet, or on the app known as VineLink.


The Office of Victim Advocate (OVA)

  • The PA Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA) is responsible for services and notifications to crime victims/survivors at the state level.  OVA’s victim services include post sentencing notifications of offender status and movements within the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) and the parole system.  Crime victims/survivors  are eligible for registration at the time an offender is sentenced to state incarceration or supervision. Registered victims/survivors will be notified if/when the offender:
  • becomes parole eligible
  • is considered for any release program
  • escapes – and is recaptured
  • transfers to a state mental health facility
  • dies
  • writes an apology letter
  • applies for clemency (pardon or commutation)
  • The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)


Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)* 

  • ACP provides victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking with an alternate mailing address to keep their actual home address out of public records where their perpetrator may find their location.  ACP is designed to be part of an overall safety plan for victims who are planning to move or have recently moved to a location unknown to the perpetrator.


*ACP is not a witness protection program.

Sexual Violence Protection from Abuse (SVPO)

A Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO) is designed to protect victims of sexual violence from further abuse and/or intimidation by their abuser, regardless of whether or not criminal charges have been filed against the perpetrator. Similar in many ways to a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA), the key difference lies in the relationship between the abuser and the victim. While PFAs require an intimate or household relationship between the two parties, a SVPO does not and is available to victims of sexual violence who are at continued risk of harm from their perpetrator.

Who can be protected by a Sexual Violence Protection Order?

SVPOs offer civil protection to any victim of sexual violence who is at risk of further harm by the perpetrator. Parents or guardians may seek SVPOs on behalf of minor children. Protections can be extended to other designated persons who are also shown to be at risk of harm.

What type of relief does a Sexual Violence Protection Order offer?

SVPOs prohibit an offender from having any contact with the victim. Protections can include preventing the offender from entering a victim’s home, workplace, or school. SVPO protection can also be expanded to prevent intimidation/contact from a third party on behalf of the offender or to extend protection to related parties, such as parents, siblings, or children of the victim.

Other appropriate relief also may be granted, depending on the circumstances of the sexual assault. Some examples may include:

  • A student who was sexually assaulted by another student and is being made fun of by the perpetrator on Facebook 
  • A tenant who has been fondled by a landlord who threatens her/his housing 
  • An employee who has been raped by a co-worker who threatens him or her 
  • A college student who experiences harassment from a perpetrator’s friends after reporting a campus sexual assault 
  • A child victim whose offender repeatedly drives by the bus stop


For more information on SVPO, click on the following link: Sexual Violence Protection Orders | PCAR

AND Protection from Intimidation Order (PFIO)

The Protection From Intimidation Order was created to protect minors when the offender is age 18 or older. For example, a PFIO could be granted for a child whose sports coach or an adult friend of the family is stalking or harassing him or her.


A judge can grant an SVPO or a PFIO for up to 3 years.

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