Domestic Violence in Philadelphia
Women Against Abuse operates two 100-bed emergency safe havens for survivors who have had to flee their homes to escape from domestic violence. These are the only domestic violence shelters in Philadelphia, and they are consistently at full capacity. The need for safe haven far outpaces demand, with thousands of requests for safety turned away each year. When the safe havens are full, hotline counselors work with victims to create a safety plan, often seeking alternative options like domestic violence shelters in neighboring counties to help keep people safe.
Calls for Help
The Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline receives an average of approximately 13,500 calls each year, with approximately 75% of callers identifying as victims.
Each year, the Philadelphia Police Department receives more than 100,000 emergency 9-1-1 calls that are domestic in nature.
Domestic Violence Homicides
In the past 10 years, there have been an average of 23 domestic violence homicides each year in Philadelphia.
- 2008: 21
- 2009: 36
- 2010: 30
- 2011: 24
- 2012: 24
- 2013: 17
- 2014: 18
- 2015: 19
- 2016: 18
- 2017: 22
Philadelphia Family Court
Each year, approximately 12,000 petitions for Protection From Abuse Orders are filed in Philadelphia Family Court.
Domestic violence affects individuals from all backgrounds, genders and socioeconomic statuses.
For many, however, domestic violence intersects with poverty, homelessness and job instability that significantly limits victim’s abilities to escape abuse.
In Philadelphia, lack of affordable housing, widespread poverty and high rates of community violence result in insurmountable obstacles for adults seeking long-term and sustainable safe living situations. Individuals experiencing domestic violence are also more likely to experience under- or unemployment due to the cycle of power and control implicated in domestic violence dynamics.
- Employment and Domestic Violence: The impact of domestic violence, which may include physical, emotional and financial abuse, significantly limits a victim’s potential earning power. In one study assessing barriers to employment resulting from domestic violence, 85% of victims reported that their abuser kept them from sleeping; one-third reported that their abuser withheld transportation at the last minute; and one-third were beaten to the point that they could not work.
- Poverty and Domestic Violence: Although domestic violence impacts individuals from all backgrounds, the need for domestic violence services in Philadelphia, the poorest major city in the country, is particularly pronounced. Poverty disproportionately impacts minorities, single mothers and children — compared with a citywide poverty rate of 27%, 31% of African Americans, 41% of Hispanics, half of single mothers, and one in three children live in poverty. Abused individuals in poverty experience the greatest difficulty in gathering the resources to seek safety.
- Housing and Domestic Violence: With limited financial resources, victims are forced to navigate difficult choices, particularly if they have children. Often, the only alternative to abuse is homelessness. On an average night, 250 homeless individuals in Philadelphia self-report as victims of domestic violence.
- Trauma and Domestic Violence: Due to fear, isolation and stigma, victims may only come into contact with city systems and domestic violence service providers once violence has reached a crisis point — when interventions are costliest and least effective. Early intervention and prevention, in addition to emergency measures, make up a critical component of the continuum of services that Women Against Abuse offers.
Due to fear, isolation and stigma, victims may only come into contact with city systems and domestic violence service providers once violence has reached a crisis point—when interventions are costliest and least effective. Early intervention and prevention, in addition to emergency measures, make up a critical component of the continuum of services that Women Against Abuse offers.