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Who We Are

“Without even realizing it, we had transitioned from the Women’s Movement to the Battered Women’s Movement.” – Ann Steytler, Founder.

photo of founder of Women's Center and ShelterFor over 45 years, Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh has been a leader in providing safety, shelter, support and guidance to all survivors of domestic violence. During this time, we have been witness to both the triumphs and heartaches associated with this complex issue that affects 1 out of 4 women, 1 in 7 men, and 54% of gender non-confirming people..

We know that no two situations are ever alike, but it is through our common understanding and genuine compassion that we can offer a sanctuary to survivors and their children suffering at the hands of domestic violence.

Today, our mission is to strengthen our ability to meet the individual and evolving needs of those affected by domestic violence by investing in the growth of our people, deepening community engagement, and amplifying the voices of all survivors.

Our Commitment to Fighting Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence, more commonly known as domestic violence, is a serious and pervasive matter that affects every community, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or economic status. 

As one of the oldest domestic violence shelters in the country, our goal is to offer hope in the form of resources aimed at helping survivors and their children escape abusive relationships and build new lives.

Our Guiding Principles

033115-wcs-veronica-165We offer a wide range of expert supportive services, including a 24-hour hotline, emergency family shelter, legal advocacy, domestic violence support groups and more. All of our efforts are steered by a simple set of values, first pioneered by our founders Ellen Berliner and Anne Steytler over four decades ago.

Empowerment: Suffering physical, psychological or emotional abuse has a way of making anyone feel powerless. Everything we do begins from a place of trust, allowing women to rebuild their sense of self in a safe and positive environment.

Advocacy: Women’s Center & Shelter is more than just a domestic violence shelter. We are advocates for the rights of survivors and their children, offering free legal services, medical aid and more to help all those in need.

Community: Spreading awareness about intimate partner violence and its effects on children begins at the community level. We help to educate residents of the greater Pittsburgh area about the harms of partner abuse, the ways they can help, and to show that there is hope for victims of domestic violence.

Sanctuary: Our Emergency Shelter is a safe haven from fear and violence, adopting a holistic approach to meeting the physical and emotional needs of intimate partner abuse victims. Through guided activities and special services, we help survivors and their children recover from the damage caused by domestic violence.

Our History

scan-26Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh was founded by Ellen Berliner and Anne Steytler, at a time when the entire concept of “domestic violence” had yet to gain any mainstream recognition. Soon after opening its doors in 1974, they discovered that nearly half of the women who came to them had been beaten or abused by their partners.

The focus of the organization quickly shifted to offer emergency shelter for women and their children, with Berliner and Steytler even housing victims in their own homes. Women’s Center & Shelter would become one of the first six shelters for intimate partner violence in the nation, making tremendous strides in spreading awareness and aid for victims in the Pittsburgh area and at large.

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Our Promise to You

Today, we help more than 7,200 individuals each year recover from the trauma of intimate partner violence and find their way into a new life. Our domestic violence shelter and program offer the promise of safety and anonymity, and we pledge to protect and support all victims with the highest quality services.

We are trusted partners with local law enforcement, legal agencies, and other nonprofit organizations, which allows us to continue the fight for the rights of all victims of intimate partner violence and create a world where everyone can experience love and compassion in a safe, healthy manner.