Home isn’t always a safe space for many Philadelphians. In fact, the number of domestic abuse-related deaths in the city more than doubled from 2020 to 2021.

Domestic abuse and dating violence can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional (verbal), psychological (mental), financial, and cultural abuse. And the perpetrator can be a partner, parent, family member, guardian, or friend. Domestic abuse can happen to people of all genders and sexual identities.

If you need help, here are some places to start:

Am I in an abusive relationship?

“There’s no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter type of abusive relationship,” says Katie Young Wildes, a spokesperson from Women Against Abuse, which helps people of all genders who are dealing with violence. Broadly, domestic abuse involves someone who is trying to maintain control of the relationship. Signs of domestic abuse can include isolation from your loved ones, pressure to escalate the relationship, name-calling, physical or sexual abuse, and financial control. If you are in an LGBTQ relationship, you might experience additional abusive dynamics, including being outed.

How to help someone experiencing domestic abuse

There are lots of ways to start a conversation with someone you think is being abused, says Young Wildes, including:

  • “I’m so sorry you’re going through this.”

  • “You don’t deserve it.”

  • “It’s not your fault.”

  • “How can I help?”

The most important thing to remember is not to be judgmental, because chances are they are already feeling very judged. Instead, offer them a safe and supportive environment where they can express themselves freely without fear of being blamed.

Don’t offer unsolicited advice; be patient, lend an ear, and try to put the power back into their hands.

Finally, Young Wildes recommends giving yourself a lot of grace, because seeing someone you love being in a domestic-abuse situation can be really hard.

How to leave an abusive situation

Leaving can be one of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship. And, in many cases, the situation won’t leave room for planning ahead. But having a safety plan — a safe space to go, and someone who can help — can all make a difference

If you feel your life is in imminent danger, call 911.

If you need help coming up with a plan to leave an abusive situation, or you need legal support, therapy, or immigration assistance, here are some organizations that can help you:

Domestic violence resources in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline

The Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline is “the best first step,” says Young Wildes. This 24/7 hotline is open all year long, and you can call confidentially to get free counseling, help finding an emergency shelter and making a safe plan, and for crisis intervention. They have translation services available, so you can call for help no matter what language you speak.

It’s a 2005 city initiative, operated by Women Against Abuse, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Lutheran Settlement House, and Women in Transition. Their job is to help you in a way that works for you. Nobody will pressure you into leaving; instead they will listen to you, and guide you on how to keep yourself as safe as possible with whatever steps you want to take.

📞 Emergency hotline: 866-723-3014 (24 hours a day), 🌐 womenagainstabuse.org/get-help/pdvh

Women Against Abuse

Despite its name, this nonprofit service is open to people of all gender identities, sexual orientations, nationalities, races, and religions. If you are experiencing domestic violence or don’t feel safe or comfortable at home, this group can help. They offer free legal services (including child custody), help with creating a safety plan, court accompaniment, group counseling, economic management education, and child care, as well as security-protected emergency shelters in case you need emergency housing. If you prefer to chat online, there is a chat service available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you have a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic violence, they can provide you with advice on how to help.

📍 100 S. Broad St., Suite 1341, 📞 866-723-3014 (24 hours a day), 🌐 womenagainstabuse.org

Women Organized Against Sexual Violence (WOAR)

If you or anyone you know is experiencing sexual assault (including within marriage or relationships), incest, child sexual assault, sexual exploitation, or any kind of unwanted sexual contact, WOAR can help you.

Formerly known as Women Organized Against Rape, WOAR offers free bilingual and bi-cultural trauma-informed therapy — no matter how long ago the sexual assault happened — as well as group therapy, and people who will go with you to get a forensic exam (rape kit) or go to court. If you are in distress, in need of grounding and coping, or need more information about their programs, you can call their hotline. It operates 24 hours a day.

📍 1617 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 800, 📞 Emergency hotline: 215-985-3333 (24 hours a day), 🌐 woar.org

Women in Transition (WIT)

The West Philadelphia nonprofit has been helping domestic abuse victims/survivors since 1971. If you are at least 14 years old and need free bilingual counseling and advocacy, group support, self-defense classes (virtual due to the pandemic), or substance-abuse intervention, Women in Transition can help. If you need telephone counseling call Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All their services are available for people of any gender identity or sexual orientation.

📍718 Arch St., Suite 401 (closed due to COVID-19), 📞 LifeLine: 215-751-1111, 🌐helpwomen.org

Lutheran Settlement House

The Lutheran Settlement House opened its doors in 1902 to help Philadelphia’s growing immigrant population. Since then, they have adapted to the needs of Philadelphians from all cultures, races, religions, sexualities, and genders. Their Bilingual Domestic Violence Program can help you find free counseling (for you and your kids), and support groups. And the Housing First program can help you find crisis hotel placements and transitional survivor housing. If you need immediate help, they recommend you call the Philadelphia Domestic Violence hotline.

📍1340 Frankford Ave., 📞 215-426-8610, 🌐lutheransettlement.org

Congreso de Latinos Unidos

Congreso de Latinos Unidos has been working to build up Philly’s Latinx community since 1977. If you are a Latinx person in a domestic abuse situation, the group’s Latina Domestic Violence Program can provide you and your children (ages 4 to 17) with counseling, legal advocacy, group therapy, community resources, emergency relocation, and housing assistance. If you are not experiencing domestic violence directly but know someone who is, Congreso can help you with resources to help your loved one. If you are not a domestic violence victim/survivor but have witnessed it, you can find help here too.

📍216 W. Somerset St., 📞 215-763-8870, 🌐congreso.net

Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC)

SEAMAAC helps people in Asian immigrant and refugee communities navigate domestic abuse resources, create a safety plan, advocate for your needs, and figure out healthy relationship dynamics.

📍1711 S. Broad St., 📞 215-602-0550, 🌐 seamaac.org

African Family Health Organization (AFAHO)

If you are from Africa or the Caribbean living in Philly, AFAHO can help you with domestic violence awareness and support, and provides behavioral health services, and emergency food and housing assistance. They offer services in French, Yoruba, Mandingo, Bambara, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Akan (Twi), and Arabic.

📍2420 S. 54th St. Second floor, 📞 215-546-1232, 🌐 afaho.org

HIAS Pennsylvania

HIAS Pennsylvania has been helping immigrants (from all countries) in Pennsylvania for more than a century. If you are an immigrant and a victim/survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault, HIAS Pennsylvania can help you figure out if you can gain legal status in the U.S. They will evaluate your case and provide help in multiple languages. They offer many free services, and others at a sliding scale, depending on your income.

📍600 Chestnut St., Suite 500B, 📞 215-832-0900, 🌐 hiaspa.org

Joseph J. Peters Institute

Joseph J. Peters Institute has been helping Philadelphians experiencing domestic abuse since 1955. Here you can access individual therapy, group counseling, and help to come up with a safety plan. If you have children or teenagers who witness domestic violence, this center offers trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy, family services, and mental health care. The group also offers dialectical behavior therapy for both cis and transgender people who have experienced domestic violence.

📍100 S. Broad St., 17th Floor, 📞 215-701-1560, 🌐 jjpi.phmc.org

Domestic violence resources in the Philadelphia suburbs

Domestic Violence Center of Chester County (DVCCC)

If you are a Chester County resident — including Coatesville, Kennett Square, Oxford, and Phoenixville — the DVCCC can offer support. They have provided free counseling, housing, and legal services for more than 40,000 victims/survivors since 1976. And if you have children, they offer support groups for them to heal through art, and learn healthy coping skills. The DVCC main office is in West Chester, but they have five satellite locations across the county.

📞 888-711-6270 (24 hours), 🌐 dvcccpa.org

Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA)

Founded in 1974, NOVA is the first sexual-assault crisis center in Bucks County and it’s open for all QTBIPOC people. If you have been sexually assaulted, NOVA provides trauma-focused bilingual counseling, group support, behavioral therapy, advocacy, legal support, help understanding the criminal justice system, and crisis intervention. Additionally, you can contact NOVA for a compassionate medical-forensic exam, or for a staff member to accompany (and support you) in the emergency room.

📞 800-675-6900 (24 hours), 🌐 novabucks.org

A Woman’s Place

If you are experiencing domestic abuse in Bucks County, A Woman’s Place offers free counseling, support groups, emergency shelter, and financial empowerment programs. They can also help you figure out how to talk to a loved one experiencing domestic abuse, and how to recognize signs of abuse. A Woman’s Place offers support to everyone in Bucks County, no matter your gender identity, race, age, or native language. If it isn’t safe for you to call, they advise you to send a message on Facebook with your contact information and the best time to reach you.

📞 800-220-8116 (24 hours), 🌐 awomansplace.org

Laurel House

Laurel House was founded by the Women’s Center of Montgomery County in 1980. Now the nonprofit provides free emergency shelter, transitional housing, counseling, group counseling, crisis response, and medical advocacy for all people in Montgomery County. Additionally, they can help you get a protection order or on a child custody case, for free. If you need assistance, call their hotline or text HOPE to 85511.

📞 800-642-3150, 🌐 laurel-house.org

Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County

The Domestic Abuse Project has been helping victims/survivors since 1976. If you are experiencing domestic violence in Delaware County, they can provide free counseling, support groups, children’s counseling (ages 3 to 17), and legal and advocacy services. Likewise, if you need a safe place to be able to leave an abusive environment, the Domestic Abuse Project offers free safe housing.

📍14 W. Second St., Media, 📞 610-565-4590 (24 hours), 🌐 dapdc.org

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence

If this list doesn’t mention your county, it doesn’t mean that there are no resources available for you. Domestic abuse is a serious problem. Just in 2021, 109 Pennsylvanians died from domestic-violence related incidents. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence can help you no matter where you are in the state. They offer free counseling, shelter, legal services, and economic services for you and your children. Additionally, they have a directory of domestic violence programs in the state, where you can find the closest one to your zip code.

📞 800-799-7233, 🌐 pcadv.or

New Jersey domestic violence resources

New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline

If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence in New Jersey, the state has a bilingual hotline you can call. They will help you find access to services, including crisis intervention, referrals, and advocacy. You can call any day, at any time, the line works 24/7.

📞 800-572-7233, 🌐 nj.gov/dcf/women/hotlines

Department of Children and Families

Under the Department of Children and Families, New Jersey operates the Office of Domestic Violence Services. The state funds programs in every New Jersey county that help children experiencing or witnessing domestic violence. The programs include access to shelters, counseling, advocacy, and legal, financial, and housing assistance.

📞 Depends on where you live, 🌐 nj.gov/dcf/women/domestic

Providence House Domestic Violence Services

For Burlington County residents, Providence House Domestic Violence Services provides free assistance. The group, run by the Catholic Charities from the Diocese of Trenton, can help you file a restraining order, get legal advocacy, access emergency safe housing, get counseling for you and your children, and find support groups.

📞 877-871-7551 (24 hour), 🌐 catholiccharitiestrenton.org

Camden County Women’s Center (CCWC)

CCWC, run by the nonprofit New Jersey Association on Correction, helps domestic violence victims/survivors in the Camden area. You can go to Camden County Women’s Center for food assistance, shelter, counseling for you and your children, as well as help with child care, getting to an emergency shelter, support groups, legal advocacy, court accompaniment, and getting a restraining order.

📞 856-227-1234 (24 hour), 🌐 njaconline.org

For everyone in the U.S.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

The National Domestic Violence hotline has been receiving calls from all over the U.S. since 1996. They can help you create a safety plan, identify abuse, obtain legal services, and find local resources near your area. No matter what language you speak, you can call, live chat, or text START to 88788 to contact the hotline. They have advocates available for translation and communication in over 140 languages. They also have programs specifically focused on Native American people and deaf or hard of hearing people.

📞 800-799-7233, 🌐 thehotline.org