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This month's spotlight is Berks Women in Crisis (BWIC).

Berks 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 it does?
• Belittle you in public or private, or keep you from contacting family or friends?
• 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.

Over 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 610-898-8268.

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 offices.

BWIC Contact Information:


24-Hour Hotlines
English: 610-372-9540
Spanish: 610-372-7463

Counseling, Legal, and Education Offices:
645 Penn Street, 2nd floor
Reading, PA 19601
Fax: 610-372-4188
Email: peaceworks@berkswomenincrisis.org

Shelter: 610-373-2053
Emma’s Place: 610-396-0444
Housing: 610-898-8268


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