[Skip to Content]

Domestic Violence Unit

Domestic Violence Unit

Every 9 seconds...a woman is beaten by her husband, boyfriend or live-in partner.

In 1998, the Berks County District Attorney's Office formed the Domestic Violence Unit as part of a grant initiative that funded a County Detective position and a dedicated Assistant District Attorney for Domestic Violence Cases.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence is a pattern of physical, sexual, and/or emotionally abusive behaviors used by one individual to assert power or maintain control over another individual. Involved persons must have one of the following:

  • persons related by blood or marriage, 
  • persons who reside or formerly reside together, 
  • persons who are biological parents to the same child and / or current or former sexual, or intimate partners

Domestic Violence is not new!

For as long as there were relationships there were struggles for dominance. For many years Domestic Violence was considered a private family matter which occurred and was dealt with behind closed doors. It was not until 1974 that the first woman's shelter opened. This shelter was filled so quickly that the magnitude of the problem became obvious. In the last 25-30 years awareness of the problem has led to community intervention projects, new and tougher laws and better legal protection for victims. 

If a Victim of Domestic Violence...You're not alone!

  • Family Violence is the number one cause of injury to adult women, affecting more than breast cancer, heart attacks, or strokes.
  • Approximately 95% of assaults on spouses or ex-spouses are committed by men against women. (US Department of Justice, 1991)
  • Spouse abuse accounts for more injuries to women than automobile accidents, muggings and rapes combined. (Stark and Filcraft, 1988)
  • Thirty percent of female homicide victims are killed by their husbands or boyfriends. (United States Public Health Service)
  • Of the 5,745 women murdered in 1991, 6 of 10 were killed by someone they knew. Half were murdered by a spouse or someone with whom they had been intimate. (When Violence Hits Home, "Time", July 4, 1994)
  • In a national survey of over 6,000 American families, 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children. (Family Violence Protection Fund)
  • There are at least 4 million reported incidents of domestic violence against women every year.
  • Domestic Violence knows no economic, race, religious or geographic boundaries.

How the Domestic Violence Unit Helps

  • Initiates follow-up contacts with all victims of domestic violence whose cases are reported to the unit.
  • Provides technical assistance to police officers throughout the county who make requests.
  • Handles cases that may cross jurisdictional boundaries, or cases that may require extended amount of time to investigate, such as stalking.
  • Provides victim escorts for court appearances, if necessary.
  • Provides a full range of victim services through the victim/witness unit. These services include compensation forms, aid with insurance questions and court accompaniment.
  • Provides a 24-hour on-call service to the officers of the county to answer technical questions related to their investigations.
  • Train police officers on correct procedures and guidelines they should be following while investigating domestic violence cases.

How Do Abusers Control Their Victims?

  • Abusers isolate their victims, limiting what they do, where they go, who they see and talk to.
  • They abuse their victims emotionally by calling them names, putting them down, using humiliation, and playing mind games.
  • Perpetrators minimize the abuse, deny it occurred, or blame the victim for causing it.
  • Abusers threaten to take the children or try to make the victim feel guilty about the children and their lifestyle.
  • Abusers use male privilege: by acting like the king of the house, making all decisions, treating the victim like a servant, clearly defining male and female roles in the home.
  • Abusers use economic abuse: they control all the money, prevent the victim from working or keeping a job, make the victim ask for money, and only give small allowances for household items.
  • Abusers use coercion and threats: they threaten to hurt the victim or to leave, force the victim to do illegal things, threaten to report victim to welfare, and make her drop charges.
  • Abusers use intimidation by destroying property, abusing pets and instill fear in the victims through, looks, actions, gestures and displaying weapons.

Where Can I Get Help For Domestic Violence?

  • For an emergency, call 911
  • When occuring, call your local police department for immediate assistance.
  • Seek assistance from SafeBerks. SafeBerks offers shelter services, legal services and counseling services. 
  • English Hotline: (610) 372-9540
  • Spanish Hotline: (610) 372-7463
  • Call the Berks County District Attorney's Domestic Violence Unit at 610-478-7171
  • Seek help from family and friends. They may be more understanding and supportive than you think.