The Cranberry Eagle
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Article published December 26, 2012

Agency aids crime victims
VOICe shelters those in need

Tom Victoria
Butler Eagle

The Victim Outreach Intervention Center is a Butler nonprofit agency dealing with victims of crime, including domestic abuse.

The agency supports those who have suffered domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, simple or aggravated assault, incest, stalking, sexual harassment, attempted homicide, terroristic threats, burglary and robbery.
Along with helping women and children, the agency also helps male abuse victims, and it works with abused elderly and victims of a break-in.
Families of homicide victims also are clients.
VOICe, which employs 41 people, operates a shelter and 27 apartments for people who leave their homes following abuse.
It has 24 of the apartments filled or reserved.
Robert Marchese, VOICe executive director, said sometimes there is a waiting list even when apartments are empty.
“This can occur due to the bedroom size of the available apartments not matching the needs of the client on the waiting list,” he said.
The criminal history of a client sometimes plays a part in the waiting list because some landlords require tenants to pass a background check, barring those with felonies.
The agency also provides financial assistance for rental deposits and first month's rent on private apartments, costs for establishing utility service and moving expenses.
In addition to providing shelter, VOICe helps victims get protection from abuse court orders and offers counseling.
Counseling also can include help for the abuser.
Along with court-ordered counseling, VOICe provides sessions for workers in the private sector.
Marchese said some employers will direct workers to seek counseling due to an incident at the business.
After becoming executive director in January, he started an anger management program.
VOICe also instructs students about proper dating behavior, stalking, date rape and sexting — sending sexually explicit messages or photographs between cell phones.
For the 2011-12 fiscal year, VOICe served 2,017 victims of domestic violence, did 25,250 hours of counseling, answered 5,075 hot line calls and held 700 educational events attended by 12,223 people.
The agency's 24-hour hot line is 800-400-8551.