If you ask someone what the Abuse and Rape Crisis Center does, the answer may very well be that it provides a safe place for someone being physically abused.
It does do that and so much more, too.
What began 40 years ago with a group of dedicated women with ideas and lots of compassion, has grown into an organization serving the community with a safe house, counseling, legal advocacy, lots of prevention education, and so much more.
ARCC has seen a lot of changes in the last four decades since its incorporation in 1979. But what’s remained constant is the commitment to helping people through some of life’s most difficult situations.
Monya Tsiknas, ARCC’s direct services specialist, recently talked about the history and some of the changes made since the beginning. At first the organization was called the Towanda Area Women’s Center (TAWC). It began with a woman fleeing her abusive husband with nowhere to go. A group of local women found out and decided to help. They had no budget. They communicated with a pager. They found safe homes.
“Forty years ago women had no one advocating for them,” Tsiknas added.
Through grants, donations and community fundraising, the TAWC began to provide support, offer shelter, and counseling and advocacy for women who were recovering from emotional and/or physical abuse.
The name was changed to the Abuse and Rape Crisis Center, more commonly known as ARCC, in 1987. One of the reasons for the name change was to let people know that men were also eligible to be helped. Tsiknas said that’s one of the things everyone may not know about ARCC today, adding that the staff includes both women and men too.
Other things she highlighted were as follows.
* A big part of the ARCC is counseling. It’s free and the peer counselors have 65 hours of training, meeting state requirements for a high level of confidentiality.
* That confidentiality includes all personal information, as well as the location of the site, to increase safety.
* Counseling can include a mom, a husband; a brother … loved ones of victims who need someone to talk to.
* The staff is very good on keeping up-to-date on the laws, including frequent changes to protection law and child abuse law.
* More people are coming forward to get help, perhaps due to increased awareness from things like movies on Lifetime, to celebrities coming forward with their own experiences.
* Legal advocates can walk a client through the process of a PFA, accompanying to the courthouse, hearings, attorney appointments, etc. They are not attorneys and don’t represent, but it can be helpful to have an objective person who is not emotionally involved.
* Besides domestic violence, ARCC can also help with human trafficking, child abuse not related to domestic violence, elder abuse, bullying, and hate crimes.
Regan Parshall, prevention education supervisor at ARCC, joined the conversation to talk about the importance of prevention education.
She explained how her team goes into classrooms, of all ages, almost every day. It all starts with building self-esteem, she said. They work on assertiveness, self-worth, team building and healthy relationships. Developing all those things can help to prevent future violence. They also focus on suicide prevention.
“It’s all related,” Parshall said, adding that for examples, domestic violence victims may contemplate suicide. A young bully may turn into an adult bully.
Parshall said the prevention experts are available to talk to community groups like churches, youth groups, scouts, etc.
Tsiknas and Parshall also talked about new programs now under the ARCC umbrella:
* Strengthening Families 10 to 14: Which helps parents connect with children ages 10 to 14. For more information, call (570) 250-8143.
* Safe Transitions for Families: Which includes free, no contact safe custody exchanges and supervised visitation.Call (570) 250-0480 for more information.
Forty years since the beginning of the organization, there have been changes but the commitment remains the same.
Tsiknas concluded, “We help in every way we can. We’re helping to guide people through the emotional processes they’re facing as a result of whatever type of abuse they’ve experienced.”
Take another look at ARCC. See what it has to offer. On Facebook, find arccbc, visit www.arccbc.org or call (570) 265-5333.