Penelope House helps victims of intimate partner violence to gain social and economic independence through shelter, counseling, advocacy, and referral to community resources and agencies in Mobile, Washington, Choctaw, and Clarke Counties in Alabama. The center can provide refuge for victims and their children when their lives are in imminent danger; the temporary shelter allows escape from a violent situation. The prevention of domestic violence through education and public awareness is the goal of Penelope House.
A 24 hour crisis line is answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide counseling, information, and referral services to families in abusive situations.
Emergency shelter for victims of intimate partner violence and their children is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Victims who are admitted for shelter care are provided a safe place to stay while assessing their life situation and setting goals for the future. Shelter services include food, clothing, case management, advocate services, vocational counseling, child care, and support group. An on site medical clinic is available to provide limited medical services. Transportation is provided as needed.
Court Advocates assist all intimate partner violence victims by helping the victims work their way through the court system. The advocates provide information to victims about their rights and options in the legal system, assist with obtaining warrants and protection from abuse orders. Court advocates accompany victims to both criminal and civil court hearings.
A child care advocate refers to community agencies and resources as needed. Support groups are provided for both in shelter and outreach children. Tutoring and recreational activities are scheduled for children, with assistance from volunteer groups.
Weekly support groups are held in various locations within Mobile and Washington counties. These groups are conducted for victims both in shelter and on an outreach basis. The groups purposes are to provide support, education about issues related to domestic violence, and to empower the victims to make safe choices for themselves and their children. Children's support groups are also provided in coordination with victim support groups.
Penelope House staff provides training for other professionals, such as medical, social services, and law enforcement on the dynamics of domestic violence, the effects of violence on children, and the prevention of family violence. The staff also conducts speaking engagements about Penelope House services and domestic violence issues for local churches and civic organizations.
The Prevention Education program is for grades Pre-K - 12 and was established as a preventative measure so that children could learn ways to cope with stress at home, safety measures to take when there is violence in the home, how to recognize inappropriate adult behaviors, and whom they can turn to for help. The prevention education program also teaches teens to identify the warning signs of an abusive relationship (physical and emotional), the dynamics of dating violence, and how to seek help.
Penelope House outreach services are provided to victims who do not request shelter, but need assistance in dealing with intimate partner violence. Services include counseling, legal referral, court advocacy, vocational counseling, housing referral, and assistance with victim compensation. Referrals to other agencies are provided on an as needed basis.
A Transitional Living Community (TLC) provides temporary housing and supportive services to victims of intimate partner violence who are homeless as a result of the domestic violence. Clients must meet the definition of homeless as defined by HUD. Transitional housing services and related services are designed to enable the client to move towards self-sufficiency and independence. Clients must be willing to develop and maintain a case plan designed with the client's specific needs in mind. They may remain in the program for up to 24 months.