This month's spotlight is
Berks Women in Crisis (BWIC).
Women in Crisis (BWIC), a private non-profit agency established in 1976,
offers assistance, options, and information to victims and survivors of
domestic and sexual violence in Berks County.
Here are some signs that may you help you determine if you
are in an abusive relationship. Does the person you love…
• Say the violence is your fault, promise it won’t happen again…and then
• Belittle you in public or private, or keep you from contacting family or
• Control where you go, with whom you talk, or how you spend money?
• Shove, push, hit, kick, slap, punch or try to strangle you?
• Threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, or your pets?
• Force you to have sex?
If any of these things are happening to you, you may be in an abusive
relationship. Berks Women in Crisis can help.
the past thirty years, BWIC has grown to meet the ongoing needs of victims
and survivors. From providing the basic emergency services of shelter and
24-hour hotline, BWIC has expanded to include counseling, legal advocacy
and representation at PFA hearings, prevention education, community
outreach, transitional housing program for our clients - including the
Emma Lazarus Place (a community of ten town homes) and Emma’s Place, our
child care and community center, in South Reading. Most BWIC services are
free of charge.
BWIC provides safe emergency shelter for up to 30 days within any
six-month period for survivors of domestic violence and their children.
While living in shelter, residents have the option of receiving supportive
counseling, advocacy, and referral to other helping agencies.
BWIC counselors at our Penn Street offices provide support to victims and
their families in understanding the dynamics and effects of abuse.
The Legal Department is committed to providing quality legal services and
advocacy to victims and survivors. Legal advocates provide accompaniment
to persons seeking emergency or temporary PFA’s, as well as at criminal
court hearings and police interviews. BWIC attorneys represent individuals
in final Protection From Abuse (PFA) hearings only.
PeaceWorks, the prevention education program of BWIC, offers a curriculum
of age-appropriate programs to children, teens, and young adults in Berks
County’s eighteen school districts, private schools, colleges and
universities, and in a variety of other settings.
PeaceWorks also provides professional development by a PQAS-certified
instructor to practitioners at Early Learning and School-Age programs
throughout the county. In addition, PeaceWorks collaborates with other
BWIC staff members to provide training about domestic and sexual violence
to law enforcement, court personnel, community groups, and other social
service professionals. PeaceWorks publishes agency brochures and printed
materials and a quarterly newsletter, WomenSpeak.
Emma’s Place is BWIC’s Early-Learning and School-Age program for children
at Muhlenberg and Orange Streets in South Reading. Emma’s, open from 6AM
to 6PM, accepts children aged three to 12 from BWIC programs and the
community. Fee for services is based on the age of the child; many parents
use subsidies from BCIU or other sources to pay part of the fee.
In addition, Berks Women in Crisis provides up to eighteen families who
are survivors of domestic violence with safe and affordable housing. For
information about eligibility, call the Housing Coordinator at
BWIC welcomes volunteers in various capacities. Volunteers who assist
victims and survivors in direct service are required to complete the
60-hour Educational Seminar presented twice-yearly in the Penn Street
BWIC Contact Information:
Counseling, Legal, and Education Offices:
645 Penn Street, 2nd floor
Reading, PA 19601
Emma’s Place: 610-396-0444