Survivors and their loved ones can access services safely and securely
(Norristown, PA) -- In order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and continue to support survivors of crime, Victim Services Center of Montgomery County (VSC) is providing all of its services remotely. Anyone who is affected by crime and needs help can reach a crisis counselor / advocate 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 888.521.0983.
“We are using technology to help survivors of crime and their loved ones cope with the trauma of victimization,” said Mary Onama, LMSW, Executive Director of VSC, who emphasizes that all services are provided at no cost to crime victims and their loved ones.
VSC began switching to using virtual tools and remote access to services shortly after Governor Wolf’s first stay-home order went into effect in March 20.
VSC’s crisis hotline provides immediate emotional support to victims.
“We find that many of our counseling clients are better served by speaking with us from home and avoiding exposure to COVID-19 that may come from travel to and from our office, public transportation, or ride sharing,” said Erin Milbourne LCSW, direct services supervisor at VSC, who implemented the tool (doxy.me) that allows a counselor and a client to see and hear one another. It’s similar to Facetime or Zoom but with medical-grade privacy.”
On a typical day, VSC’s staff can be found
Offering emotional support to a victim of crime during police interview or court hearings
Accompanying a sexual assault victim to a hospital for rape kit exam and medical care
Counseling survivors of crime and child abuse
Supporting survivors of victims of homicide
Assisting victims who need protection orders for sexual violence and intimidation
Facilitating support groups
Answering a 24-hour crisis hotline and providing crisis counseling, information, and referrals
Helping victims of crime apply for crime victims' compensation
Educating members of the community and schools on primary prevention, healthy relationships, body safety, consent, child abuse mandated reporters and other topics related to impact of victimization
Interpreter services available
VSC has two staff members who are bilingual to serve Spanish-speaking clients. Furthermore, VSC provides interpretive services for clients who’s primary language is not English. All VSC services listed above can be conducted with the help of an interpreter at no cost to the victim.
“The interpreter service offers over 200 languages, so we hope that we can reach everyone in Montgomery County who needs help,” said Milbourne.
Founded in 1974 as Women Against Rape, VSC has been supporting survivors and their families for more than 40 years. Victim Services of Montgomery County, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Call 888-521-0983 to speak with a counselor 24/7 or request help here.