W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s History – Then and Now
W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has a long history of service in the San Francisco Bay Area in its mission to end domestic violence. Over the years, the programs at W.O.M.A.N., Inc. have evolved as needed to remain aligned with the needs of those we serve.
Founded in 1978 by Deborah Clifford, James Foley, and Linda Pershing Foley, W.O.M.A.N., Inc. was first established as a two bedroom shelter for survivors. The organization quickly realized that for many survivors, for many reasons, shelter was not a viable option. In response, in 1979, the Support Line was created to serve the numerous survivors who needed avenues of support beyond shelter. In the beginning, the line received 25-30 calls per month. Today, the 24-hour Support Line receives approximately 18,000 calls a year and is San Francisco’s only city funded Domestic Violence Support Line.
Responding to the complex, emerging needs of survivors, W.O.M.A.N., Inc. soon began providing peer counseling and support groups. In the early 2000s, services were expanded to include individual psychotherapy as an option for survivors emerging from crisis and in need of a more in-depth level of support.
Around this same time, it was noted that many of the survivors coming to W.O.M.A.N., Inc. for support were monolingual Spanish Speaking. Responding to the unique needs of this community the Latina program was established. This case management program specifically addressed the cultural, linguistic, and legal barriers these survivors faced. A few years later it became clear that many survivors in the Latina Program desired to remain connected to W.O.M.A.N., Inc., though they were no longer in need of the other supportive services offered by the agency. In 2011, the Echando Pa’lante program was born, offering these survivors an invaluable, continuing, support network. In 2014, W.O.M.A.N., Inc. was invited to the National Latin@ Institute to present on the success of this program, and in 2015 was invited to present at the Women of Color Network, Inc. conference in San Diego, CA.
W.O.M.A.N., Inc. also has a strong history of collaborative efforts in ending domestic violence.
In 1984, from the partnership of W.O.M.A.N., Inc. and Tanya Neiman of the Volunteer Legal Services Program of the San Francisco Bar Association, a restraining order clinic was established. W.O.M.A.N., Inc. became a founding member of what is now the Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic, which to this day provides survivors with invaluable support in the process of obtaining a restraining order.
In 1991, W.O.M.A.N., Inc. joined forces with the Asian Women’s Shelter and San Francisco Women Against Rape to create the Sister to Sister Program that provided a joint pool of multi-lingual support advocates to callers. W.O.M.A.N., Inc. continues to access many language advocates by participating in the Asian Women’s Shelter’s Citywide Multi-lingual Access Model Program.
In 2011, W.O.M.A.N., Inc. began working to improve communication amongst domestic violence service providers throughout California through the use of the online Domestic Violence Information and Referral Center (DVIRC). Since then, the DVIRC has garnered both state and national attention with W.O.M.A.N., Inc. presenting at the Powerful Partnerships Conference in Delaware in 2014.
W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has changed tremendously since 1978 and the days it served as a shelter. Though no longer a shelter, the agency continues to provide vital services for survivors of domestic violence whether they are still in the relationship, considering leaving, just left, or residing in a shelter. We seek to serve all survivors of domestic violence and their children regardless of their ethnic background, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, immigration status, or physical abilities. W.O.M.A.N., Inc. also seeks to strengthen the domestic violence field and provide trainings that will help future generations of domestic violence advocates as they continue to carry on this work.
As a result of our approach, W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has received numerous awards. Recent accolades include the Ellen Magnin Newman Award by the All San Francisco Concert Committee and the San Francisco Symphony in 2012, the title of Top- Rated Nonprofit on GreatNonprofit in 2012, 2013, and 2014, voted favorite Women’s Empowerment organization in San Francisco by 7×7 Magazine in 2012, and included in the Top Favorite 49 San Francisco Charities in 2012 and 2013 by 7×7 Magazine. In 2013, in recognition of our many decades of dedicated service to the community, the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women honored W.O.M.A.N., Inc. with a Proclamation on our agency’s 35th birthday.