Frequently Asked Questions

Click on any question below for more information. If you don’t see your question below, or haven’t found the information you want anywhere on our site, please contact us — we’re here to help.

Counseling

NOVA provides short-term crisis counseling, comprised of approximately 12-15 sessions. Counselors are Masters level clinicians and have a variety of certifications including Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). NOVA counselors work together with each client to determine which approach is most appropriate for the individual.

NOVA also runs adult and teen groups throughout the year. Please contact the NOVA hotline at  1-800-675-6900 for more information about groups that are currently being offered.  NOVA does not provide couples counseling, family counseling or play therapy, however NOVA counselors are happy to provide referrals within Bucks County for those and other services.

To get the counseling process started and determine if NOVA services are a good fit for you, contact the NOVA hotline at 1-800-675-6900.

NOVA offers counseling services to clients who are experiencing trauma symptoms as a result of being a victim of a crime. NOVA offers services for most major crimes except domestic violence. A Woman’s Place specializes in domestic violence services in Bucks County and also is a free service for clients. They can be reached at 1-800-220-8116 or www.awomansplace.org for more information. For victims of all other crimes, NOVA sees both children and adults, and any family members that have been significantly affected by the victimization. Children must be 4 years or older to begin counseling at NOVA.

NOVA is a grant-funded victim services agency; all NOVA services are free of charge. Much of the funding for victims of crime comes through restitution charges that offenders are ordered to pay. Those funds are provided to NOVA in the form of federal grants. NOVA also raises funds through its Thrift Shop and special events.

NOVA does not provide diagnoses or prescribe medication. NOVA counselors encourage individuals to reach out to their primary care physician or a local mental health agency.

  • Intake appointments normally last from 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • During the appointment, the counselor will confidentially discuss NOVA’s policies and procedures, as well as the counseling process. Minimal consent paperwork and a short trauma symptom assessment will need to be completed at this time.  The counselor will also request general information about the client’s needs and goals.
  • If the appointment is for a child age 14 or older, the child must be present at the intake in order to consent to services. If the child is age 13 or under, the counselor will discuss with you in advance whether to bring the child to the intake appointment.
  • When the intake involves a minor child for whom there is a custody agreement in place, the custody agreement must be brought to the intake appointment.
  • You do not need to bring anything else to the intake except yourself, unless the counselor specifies otherwise.

Advocacy

NOVA’s Advocates are trained to support victims of crime. They offer emotional support, victims’ rights information, help in finding needed resources and assistance in filling out crime victim related forms. Advocates frequently accompany victims and their family members through the criminal justice proceedings.

NOVA’s legal advocates are NOT attorneys and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice. An Advocate’s role is to provide support and guidance, while serving as a liaison between the victim and the criminal justice system.

In order to receive services, you must either live in Bucks County or have been the victim of a crime that occurred in Bucks County.

Advocates provide accompaniment to police interviews, meetings with the District Attorney’s Office, and adult, juvenile and family court hearings.

Child Abuse

Child abuse is any act by an individual which causes nonaccidental serious physical injury, nonaccidental mental injury, serious neglect, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under 18 years of age.

Child abuse also includes acts which place a child under 18 years of age in imminent risk of serious physical injury, sexual abuse or exploitation.

While in some children there may be no signs whatsoever, the following are the most common signs of child abuse:

Neglect:
• Obvious malnourishment
• Lack of personal cleanliness, torn/dirty clothes
• Obvious fatigue or listlessness
• A child unattended for long periods of time
• Stealing or begging for food
• Frequent absences or tardiness from school
• Need for eye glasses, dental care, or other medical attention

Physical Abuse:
• Frequent unexplained injuries (i.e. bruises, cuts, burns, black eyes)
• Frequent complaints of pain without any obvious injury
• Aggressive, disruptive behavior
• Lack of reaction to pain
• Passive, withdrawn, emotionless behavior
• Unseasonable clothing that hides arms and/or legs

Sexual Abuse:
• Evidence of injury to the genital area
• Difficulty sitting or walking
• Frequent expressions of sexual activity between adults and children
• Extreme fear of being alone with adults (especially of a particular gender)
• Sexually suggestive, age inappropriate or promiscuous behavior
• Sexually transmitted disease or pregnancy
• Sexual victimization to other children
• Relapse into bedwetting and/or frequent nightmares
• Complaints of painful urination
• Knowledge about sexual relations beyond what is age appropriate

If you suspect child abuse or neglect in Pennsylvania, you should report the suspected abuse and/or neglect to ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313. If you feel that a child is in an emergency situation, you should call your local law enforcement or 911 immediately.

ChildLine is the 24-hour, toll-free telephone reporting system operated by the Department of Welfare to receive reports of suspected child abuse. ChildLine forwards reports of suspected child abuse to local county officials to investigate in order to prevent any further maltreatment of the child.

In Pennsylvania, a mandated reporter is an individual, who in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of a profession, comes into contact with children and has reasonable cause to suspect that a child under the care, supervision, guidance or training of that individual or an agency, institution, organization or other entity with which that individual is affiliated, is a victim of child abuse.

Sexual Assault Exam

  • A SANE or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is an RN who has been specifically trained to provide comprehensive, gender-sensitive care to individuals who have experienced sexual violence.
  • A SANE helps to meet the emotional and medical needs of the patient, while also addressing the forensic requirements of the criminal justice system.

Any individual age 13 or older may receive a medical forensic exam at Doylestown Hospital, St. Mary Medical Center, Jefferson Bucks or St. Luke’s Hospital, Quakertown campus. Children under the age of 13 may receive an exam at CHOP, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children or St. Luke’s Hospital, Quakertown campus.

The evidence is held by police, but victims do not need to talk with law enforcement. However, if you are under the age of 18, a report to Childline is mandated by the state of PA.

  • The PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Victim’s Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP) covers the cost of the exam.
  • A victim of a sexual offense does not need to ‘report’ the sexual offense or ‘talk’ to law enforcement in order for the costs to be paid by VCAP.