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24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline
The Crisis Center for South Suburbia is a non-profit community organization that provides emergency shelter and other essential services for individuals and families victimized by domestic violence and addresses the societal issues that contribute to domestic violence.
In 1976, the Committee on Women of the Palos Branch of the American Association of University Women began to study the issue of domestic violence. They visited safe houses, attended conferences, read extensively on the subject, and prepared a comprehensive bibliography. Once they established the need for further study, the committee established a “hotline” in a member’s kitchen. They began documenting the calls they received from battered women seeking safety and support. That spring, the group received seed money from the American Association of University Women to begin training volunteers and to provide services to clients.
In 1979, the group obtained its incorporation as a not-for-profit agency and established a primary catchment area comprised of the ten townships south of Chicago. Eight beds were secured at a local community center and professional counselors were hired.
The following year, a farmhouse capable of sheltering nineteen women and children was secured by the agency. Counseling sessions took place on the back porch in the summer and in the busy living room in colder weather. Staff, volunteers, and nineteen clients shared a single bathroom.
The agency worked out of the farmhouse for the next nine years, providing counseling services to both women and children and educational services to law enforcement agencies, medical providers, and the community at large on the issues of domestic violence.
In 1989, the board of directors initiated a capital campaign to construct a new shelter. In the subsequent three years, $1.3 million was raised. In 1991, the board of directors, volunteers, staff and nineteen women and their children moved into a new 35-bed shelter facility. This facility is home to the Crisis Center for South Suburbia today.
During the next several years, the Crisis Center continued to expand its services and implemented several new programs including a dating violence prevention program, batterer’s intervention program, substance abuse assessment program and a community-policing program.
In 2001, the Crisis Center announced its Transitional Housing Program as it continued in its mission to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence.
Finally, in May 2001, construction of a 3,000 square foot addition was completed, extending the Crisis Center on both the southeast and west ends of the facility. The additional space is comprised of 9 counseling offices, a group counseling room, and a computer room.
Today, the Crisis Center for South Suburbia remains the only residential shelter in its catchment area of over 800,000 people in south and southwest suburban Cook County.