PAAR's Mission is to respond, advocate and educate to end sexual violence.
PAAR was founded in 1972 by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW) in response to a series of rapes. This group of lawyers, health professionals and activists believed victims of sexual assault should have expert assistance directly following the commission of the crime. During PAAR’s first two years, the organization was a membership and volunteer driven.
In 1974, PAAR was incorporated as a 501-c-3 organization providing sexual assault hotline services and medical/legal advocacy. Volunteers with professional skills in social work and psychology staffed PAAR and provided victim services. In 1977, as funding became available, PAAR hired coordinators to supervise its adult victim service and education programs. In 1979 PAAR expanded from only working with adult victims, and hired staff to work specifically with victims of child sexual assault.
Today, PAAR is one of the oldest, and largest rape crisis centers in the country. PAAR remains the only organization in Allegheny County dedicated exclusively to victims of sexual violence.
We provide comprehensive, cost-free services to child and adult victims of sexual abuse throughout Allegheny County. These services include: crisis intervention, including a 24-hour hotline, medical and legal advocacy, and crisis counseling; group counseling and individual counseling; education/prevention programming for children and community groups; and clinical training for mental health professionals.
PAAR challenges the legal system and fights for the privacy rights of all rape victims. PAAR’s Executive Director refuses to turn over client records and is held in contempt of court and ordered to jail. On appeal, the case makes its way to the State Supreme Court, resulting in the Pennsylvania State Legislature passing the first law in the nation recognizing total confidentiality in communications between victims and rape crisis counselors.
PAAR was selected by the National Center for the Prevention and Control of Rape as one of nine exemplary rape crisis programs most worthy of emulation in the nation. PAAR offered technical assistance and training to centers from Alaska to Washington, D.C., as well as groups in India, Thailand, Germany and Japan.
PAAR publishes Understanding Self-Injury: A Workbook for Adults. This book has had many publications, and is still used all over the world today as the only workbook of its kind.
Children’s Mobile Therapy program, funded by The Heinz Endowments, is launched to reach child victims of sexual abuse who reside in out-of-home placement centers in Allegheny County.
PAAR convened Allegheny County Sex Offender Management and Containment Task Force. It is the first-ever, county- wide task force with a victim-centered approach to sex offender management.
PAAR is recipient of the first ever Creative Counseling Award by the American Counseling Association.