The Domestic Violence Center of Chester County has been in operation since 1976. Since that time they have been on the frontlines of domestic violence in the county. They operate a 24-hour crisis hotline. They connect people with emergency safe housing (that they maintain). They staff lawyers who help with legal solutions, and counselors who work to help individuals and families piece their lives back together. 

They have children’s services, homework help, activities, and education classes including one on recognizing teen dating abuse, an evidence-based curriculum taught by local coaches to their players. 

“In 2022-2023, these programs reached more teens than ever before with 2,759 teens engaging in our educational programming,” shared Amelia Rayburn-Pizzica, DVCCC Director of Education Programs.

Think it can’t happen to your kid? Think again. “Of that group, 27% reported experiencing abuse from a dating partner and 62% reported knowing a friend or family member who has,” she reported.

Next week the DVCCC is hosting a powerful talk with domestic violence survivor and new West Chester resident Alisa Mathewson. It is part of their Hope & Healing Series. 

After graduating from Garnet Valley, Alisa married her high school sweetheart and moved to Florida. Together they had five children but over the years her husband quietly became more and more controlling. 

“Domestic Violence isn’t always bruises and black eyes.”

DVCCC CEO Dr. Dolly Wideman-Scott
Alisa’s harrowing story was featured on CBS’s 48 Hours.

“Domestic Violence isn’t always bruises and black eyes,” said Dr. Dolly Wideman-Scott, DVCCC CEO.  “Trevor is a very charming man. He charmed the courts.”

It wasn’t until he broke into her home, kidnapped her, and tortured her for 55 hours that the courts and the legal system intervened. Alisa shared her story in a 48 Hours episode in April and she will share it again at a very special presentation here on Sept 7 at 9 a.m. 

“It’s a very eye-opening presentation,” said Kathleen Purcell, DVCCC Director of Philanthropic Partnerships. “I think it will give women permission to come forward.” 

Last year, 2,817 people called the Domestic Violence hotline in Chester County. At the same time, the DVCCC saw its largest number of individuals housed in emergency shelters – 1,726 adults and children accessed DVCC’s lifesaving services. “One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence,” said Dolly. “That individual may not know. We may not know, but if we know the signs we can help.”

If you would like to attend the event you can register here. You can also help by volunteering or making a monetary donation and if you know someone trapped in a difficult situation, Dolly offers this advice. 

“Be supportive. Don’t judge them for staying in the situation, and provide them with access to the Domestic Center’s hotline.” That number is 610-431-1430 for anyone who needs it.  

Hope & Healing: Breakfast with Alisa Mathewson, September 7, at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 9 to 11 a.m. Tickets: $25/adult; $15/students. Register by Aug. 31 if you would like to attend.


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Originally published, Aug. 25, 2023

This story is part of a longer weekly West Chester newsletter. Curious what else is going on? You can find the full issue here and the latest newsletter here. Even easier? Subscribe here to get the future issues delivered directly.

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