Mission & History

Respond, Educate, and Advocate to end sexual violence.

History and Accomplishments

1972 – PAAR was founded and was the first victim service agency in Allegheny County.

1974 – PAAR 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 assisted victims.

1975 – PAAR was one of 10 centers participating in CONCERN ’75 – the regional conference that sparked the formation of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR).

1979 – PAAR recognized the need for counseling services for sexually abused children and offered counseling to child victims and their families.

1980 – PAAR challenged the legal system and fought for the privacy rights of all rape victims. PAAR’s Executive Director refused to turn over client records and was held in contempt of court. On appeal, the case made its way to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, resulting in the PA State Legislature passing the first law in the nation recognizing total confidentiality in communications between victims and rape crisis counselors.

1984 – 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.

1988 – PAAR introduced a comprehensive 30-hour training program for outside mental health counselors to work more effectively with victims of sexual abuse. Over the years, hundreds of counselors from Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio have received this training. PAAR continues to offer training sessions to packed rooms of counselors throughout the region.

1991– PAAR moved from Oakland to a large historic structure on the South Side that was once a Baptist Church. PAAR purchased the three-story building and fully renovated it into counseling offices, a training room, and play therapy rooms for children, thereby creating a safe environment that fosters healing and support for victims.

1994 – PAAR published Understanding Self-Injury: A Workbook for Adults. The book has had many printings throughout the years, and is still requested from all over the world.

2002 – A training program on sexual violence and how to effectively respond to sexual assault victims was developed for hospital emergency room staff, residents, and medical students.

2003 – Ann Hyman, a PAAR staffer for 30 years, won Pennsylvania’s first award designated to “Outstanding Advocacy and Community Work in Ending Sexual Violence,” which was presented by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

2005 – Children’s Mobile Counseling program was launched to reach child victims of sexual abuse who reside in out-of-home placement centers in Allegheny County.

2006 – PAAR convened the Allegheny County Sex Offender Management and Containment Task Force. It was the first-ever, county-wide task force with a victim-centered approach to sex offender management.

2009 – Julie Evans, Program Director of Education and Training, earned “The Stardust Award” for her outreach in the LGBTQ community in Allegheny County. Julie also received PCAR’s Jody Pinto award for her extensive outreach in prevention while working to meet the needs of sexual violence victims through collaboration with other community agencies.

2010 – PAAR received the first Creative Counseling Award given by the American Counseling Association.

2011 – Alison Hall, PAAR’s Executive Director, received the Gail Burns-Smith Award sponsored by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA). This national recognition was for her leadership role in helping to establish the first Sex Offender Court in Pennsylvania.

2014 Carlos Golfetto, Adult Counselor, was selected by the National Board for Certified Counselors as one of their Minority Fellowship Program Fellowship Awardees.

2015 Alison Hall, Executive Director, was a winner of the 2015 Pittsburgh Business Times Diamond Awards, which honors the region’s top CEOs and presidents.

2015 Julie Evans, Director of Crisis and Prevention Services is invited to be a member of the national advisory board for “Coaching Boys Into Men” that has been established by FUTURES Without Violence.

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