Support AB 1579: TheHealthy Babies Act of 2014

Bill Author: Assemblymember Mark Stone

Did you know that for women who experience deep poverty, pregnancy can be a dangerous time? Or that domestic violence is more common than any other health problem among women during pregnancy? And that without financial assistance, low-income pregnant women have few alternatives and are more likely to endure abuse that could cause long and short-term harm to both themselves and their unborn fetus.

AB 1579 addresses three significant life challenges for first time, low-income pregnant women experiencing domestic violence: 1) the inability to access cash assistance through the CalWORKs program early on in the pregnancy (currently women must wait until the third trimester), 2) the financial struggles causing domestic violence survivors to remain in abusive relationships; and 3) the health risks faced by a pregnant women and their unborn children.

AB 1579 would allow women to obtain CalWORKs benefits at second trimester of pregnancy and would lessen undue stress on newly expectant mothers by ensuring earlier access to basic needs grants that can mitigate financial burden, eliminate dependence on abusive partners and ensure better health outcomes for their babies.

Visit the Governor’s website and state your individual support. Also, send an e-mail to your networks, co-workers, friends, and ask them to support as well!

- Go to
– Fill in contact information
– Scroll down to: PLEASE CHOOSE YOUR SUBJECT – the pull down menu—and select AB 1579\CalWORKs: pregnant women.
– Click Continue (sometimes it says submit)
– On the next page, check the Pro circle next to “Position” and write your reason for support.
– Click Send E-mail

Women’s Policy Institute Domestic Violence Team Members:

Maria-Elena Caprio, Shanti Project
Melodie Kruspodin, Peace Over Violence                                                                               Nicole Marquez, Worksafe
Julia Parish, Legal Aid Socieyt- Employment Law Center                                                 Mariya Taher – Women Organized to Make Abuse Nonexistent – W.O.M.A.N., Inc.          Mentor: Krista Niemczyk, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

POSITIONS IN SUPPORT of AB 1579 (Stone) – Healthy Babies Act 2014

  • Peace Over Violence (sponsor)
  • Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center (sponsor)
  • O.M.A.N., Inc. (sponsor)
  • Western Center on Law and Poverty (sponsor)
  • Shanti Project (sponsor)
  • ACCESS Women’s Health Justice
  • Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault
  • American Academy of Pediatrics – California
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • Asian Law Alliance
  • Asian Women’s Shelter
  • Building Future With Women and Children
  • California Catholic Conference
  • California Food Policy Advocates
  • California Latinas for Reproductive Justice
  • California Nurses Association
  • California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
  • California Primary Care Association
  • California WIC Association
  • Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice
  • Coalition for Women and Children
  • Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA)
  • Community United Against Violence (CUAV)
  • Equal Rights Advocates
  • Family Violence Law Center
  • Filipina Women’s Network
  • Futures Without Violence
  • March of Dimes – California Chapter
  • My Sister’s House
  • Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence
  • National Association of Social Workers – California Chapter
  • Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California
  • Rally Family Visitation Services
  • Saint Anthony’s Foundation
  • San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon
  • San Francisco Department on the Status of Women
  • San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium
  • Saint Francis Memorial Hospital
  • Vincent de Paul Society – The Riley Center
  • Women’s Foundation of California
  • Work Life Law, UC Hastings College of Law
  • Worksafe
  • Y-Empowerment


None received

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W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s Point of View on Domestic Violence in the NFL

Given all the recent media attention, we feel the necessity to weigh in on the recent incidents of domestic violence connected to NFL Football players.

The Leadership Team at W.O.M.A.N., Inc. and I were very distraught to hear about the arrest of Ray McDonald and the incident of violence that Ray Rice committed against his then fiancee, Janay Palmer. We connect this situation to the larger issue of holding those who use violence or abuse towards their partners accountable for their actions.

Our hope is that the 49ers will enact the NFL’s Domestic Violence Policy, and suspend anyone who uses violence in their intimate partnerships, including Ray McDonald. Yes, there are complexities at play in these situations (the reponse from the player’s union, the criminal legal system judgement, for instance) nevertheless the policy was put in place for good reason; the NFL (which includes the San Francisco 49ers) need to offer their fans and the larger community a process to enact accountability for violent behavior.

The 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) just passed. This act passed against all odds, and was confronted with opposition at every turn.   While gathering signatures in support of VAWA 20 years ago, I remember being told that ‘this type of thing (domestic violence) isn’t anyone’s business’.  At the time the general consensus was there was little to no accountability for domestic violence.

Two decades later, it is rewarding to see the progress we’ve made. There is outrage at the recent events of domestic violence committed by Rice and McDonald and discussion around whether professional football players who use abuse should be allowed the privilege of playing for the NFL. The fact that Rice’s contract has been suspended indefinitely is encouraging, and its heartening to see that in his case, the NFL has taken a hard stance against domestic violence. There is a sense that accountability, at least in the case of Rice, is becoming a reality. We hope to see the same happen in McDonald’s situation.

By now you have probably seen the video of Ray Rice punching his then fiancee, Janay Palmer, rendering her unconscious. We implore media outlets to no longer sensationalize this incident and consider the impact of showing this video over and over again. First of all, seeing the incident can be extremely distressing for survivors of domestic violence and others. Beyond the emotional impact, focusing on one incident of physical violence can overshadow the other ways in which domestic violence occurs, including emotional, psychological, verbal, sexual and financial abuse. All forms of abuse can have a corrosive impact on a survivor’s sense of self as well as their mental (and physical) health. All forms of abuse should be abhorred, even those that don’t translate into a video for the nightly news to play repeatedly.

Another challenging aspect for people is Janay’s choice to stay with and then marry Rice. The W.O.M.A.N., Inc. team discussed being confronted with questions about Janay’s choice by family and friends. At W.O.M.A.N., Inc. we respect all survivors’ choices, including Janay’s. Placing the focus on the survivor’s choice distracts from the decision their partners made to use abuse and violence. Instead, of asking ‘why did she stay?’ let’s start asking ‘why does that person feel its appropriate to abuse someone they claim to love?’ Let’s all work on flipping that question and the accountability it infers. Perhaps most importantly let’s remember that Janay Palmer Rice is not to blame for the abuse perpetrated against her.

At W.O.M.A.N., Inc., our philosophy and our services are survivor-centered. We provide services to survivors who are still in their relationships, contemplating leaving, have left, or left years earlier. While we will always support and validate a survivor’s choices, this does not imply endorsement of abuse. Ideally, all relationships would be safe and happy for everyone involved, boundaries be respected, and each person would feel loved and supported. Yet, understanding there are complexities involved in abusive relationships, we know that this can not always happen for a survivor. Friends, family members, the media, and anti-domestic violence agencies should not judge survivor’s choice or attempt to shame them for the decisions they have made or will make.

There has been a recent spike in calls to our agency. While we truly see it as an honor to be welcomed into the conversation surrounding these incidents, we respectfully ask the media and others to not call our 24-hour support line for comments on this post, or anything having to do with this NFL situation. Please allow the line to stay open for domestic violence survivors who are in crisis, looking for counseling, shelter and support.

For additional commentary from W.O.M.A.N., Inc., please contact me at 415-864-4777, ext 306.

If you are a survivor, and you want to talk about your situation, you are ALWAYS welcome to call our 24/7 Domestic Violence Support Line at 415- 864-4722. We are here for you day and night.

~ Jill Zawisza,

W.O.M.A.N., Inc.Executive Director


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W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Wins Award for Excellence in Maternal Health and Equity


W.O.M.A.N., Inc. is now a proud recipient of the silver level Award for Excellence in Maternal Health and Equity from the Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition!

The Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition is a collaboration of non-profit organizations, government agencies and employers created to improve the working conditions and health of new parents. The Award for Excellence in Maternal Health and Equity is meant to honor certain agencies who have excelled at implementing policies that will contribute to the overall health and well-being of new parents and their babies. The award is based on an assessment of W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s policies relating to parental leave, lactation accommodation and work-family balance.I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my son and after hearing all the horror stories of nursing friends (having to pump in the bathroom or in rooms with no lock where people kept walking in) I was quite anxious about having to pump at work. I’m really grateful to work at WOMAN, Inc. where my needs as a new mom are constantly taken in consideration by the agency and my coworkers. The agency has made my transition into motherhood smoother, offering support when I need it.

Paola Souto, W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s Latina Program Manager gave birth to her first child back in February 2014. She shared how W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s Policies have helped her during this time in her life.

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my son and after hearing all the horror stories of nursing friends (having to pump in the bathroom or in rooms with no lock where people kept walking in) I was quite anxious about having to pump at work. I’m really grateful to work at WOMAN, Inc. where my needs as a new mom are constantly taken in consideration by the agency and my coworkers. The agency has made my transition into motherhood smoother, offering support when I need it.

There will be an awards ceremony on September 15th from 9:30pm-11:00pm. RSVP and find event details here. For more information on the Healthy Mothers Workplace, visit their website, or visit their Facebook page to see pictures of last year’s event.




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Donor Highlight: Cooper & Scully, P.C.

Donor Highlight - Sept 2014

1. What does your organization do?

Cooper & Scully, P.C. is a mid-sized law firm and business litigation boutique in the heart of the San Francisco Financial District that provides counseling, litigation, trial, and appellate services to business clients in and around the Bay Area. We serve a wide variety of clients in transactions and litigation from small businesses to some of the largest companies in the world. Our San Francisco office alone serves two of the four largest Health Plans and one of the largest retailers in the country. We also serve many local businesses and smaller clients with more personal and customized legal needs. We pride ourselves in providing old-school, customer-focused, results-oriented, services to our clients.

2. How did you first learn about W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?

We first learned about the organization through its Board Member, Simi Grewal, and her inspired efforts to support and promote W.O.M.A.N., Inc. and its mission.

3. What inspired you to support W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s Mission?

We have a significant history of community service within San Francisco and the Bay Area through the work of our attorneys and support staff. Our attorneys and support staff have donated their time and energy to a number of projects involving women’s issues. For example, we have staffed crisis lines and taken on pro bono family law matters as part of our community service and charitable mission.

4. Tell us something interesting about your company!

Although our firm history dates back more than 20 years, we opened our Financial District office in 2006, to serve the San Fransisco Bay Area’s diverse community. For the past four years, we have been ranked No. 1 in Diversity among outside law firms, by one of the Bay Area’s premier companies, using our services and tracking attorney diversity. We are proud to serve the San Francisco Bay Area and to support W.O.M.A.N., Inc. and its admirable and worthy mission!

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CPEDV’s Emerging Leader Award Goes to Our Very Own Mary Martinez!


Mary - Strong FieldWe are so very proud to announce that our Peer Services Manager, Mary Martinez, has won the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence’s (CPEDV) Emerging Leader Award. The award is meant to go to someone who has worked or volunteered in the domestic violence movement for at least three years and is a person who makes a positive influence in the field through either informal or formal leadership roles. Winning this award also shows that the Mary demonstrates leadership skills in her team, organization, community, and region.

After completing her B.A. in Sociology at San Francisco State, Mary Martinez wanted a meaningful career that spoke to her interest in the intersection between systems of oppression and domestic violence. In 2008, Mary began work at W.O.M.A.N. Inc. as a volunteer, dedicating hundreds of hours supporting survivors on the support line via peer counseling, safety planning, and resource help. Mary later moved into the position of Crisis Line Supervisor where she oversaw the general operation of the 24-hour support line, which includes training and supporting dedicated volunteers. Mary understands that working the 24-hour support line can be challenging and emotionally draining, yet she also recognizes that WI’s support line is, many times, the first outlet a survivor uses to speak out about their abusive situation, and allowing them that space to process is extremely powerful. She looks forward to working with volunteers and teaching them the tools they will need to become great peer counselors and quite possibly the next generation of domestic violence leaders.

She also oversees the Children’s Program which incorporates ‘A Window between Worlds’ art workshops to help children build self-esteem and personal power after witnessing domestic violence at home. Check out ‘A Window Between Worlds Art Project‘ she created to express her understanding of power dynamics.

Since 2010, Mary has been the Peer Support Service Manager at W.O.M.A.N., Inc. She is also currently a part of the Strong Field Project Leadership Development Program, a state-wide program for domestic violence managers and mid-managers. Upon her acceptance, WI volunteers interviewed her about her acceptance and this is what Mary had to say:

“As someone who gets excited over the smallest things, being accepted into Strong Field Project Leadership Development Program was over the ‘Sound of Music’ mountains excitement for me! I was surprised when I found out I was one of twenty individuals picked amongst 60 applicants because of my tendency to be a little hard on myself, and I heard the other applications were really strong. But, being notified of the exciting news was some good validation for myself. I can’t wait to connect with the others from Cohort 3 and develop some skills on how to be an effective leader not only at W.O.M.A.N. Inc., but in the anti-domestic violence community!”

Mary understands fully how emotionally challenging domestic violence work can be, and one of the things Mary values most about working at W.O.M.A.N is that despite a variety of challenges, their team makes sure to bring humor wherever necessary and appropriate. As an emerging leader, Mary also understands the importance of self-care and strives to make it a point to have boundaries between work and personal time as well as to teach others in the field to do so, as well. For Mary, personal time means living in the city that she loves, San Francisco, where there is always something affordable to do, and being an avid drag, and more specifically, San Francisco drag enthusiast who has a deep admiration for Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor.

Congrats, Mary!!

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W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s 2nd Annual Doggie Walk!

On July 19th, 2014, W.O.M.A.N., Inc staff, volunteers, and community members all got together at Duboce Park for W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s  2nd Annual Doggie Walk. The purpose of this event is to not only show the connection between pet abuse and domestic violence, but also to show the strong connection between survivors and their pets; pets often provide an incomparable form of support for survivors. This year’s event was particularly special, as it was dedicated to Claire Pierce Moreira, a beloved volunteer of W.O.M.A.N., Inc. and pet-lover, who passed away this past year.

Beloved Volunteer and Pet-Lover, Claire.  Claire volunteered many hours of her time to help W.O.M.A.N., Inc. and survivors of domestic violence. We are forever thankful for her!

Beloved Volunteer and Pet-Lover, Claire. Claire volunteered many hours of her time to help W.O.M.A.N., Inc. and survivors of domestic violence. We are forever thankful for her!

Friends and family of Claire, along with our much-appreciated community of supporters, came out that Saturday afternoon with their dear furry companions to both honor Claire and her deep compassion for pets and domestic violence survivors, as well as to recognize the high prevalence of pet abuse. Everyone got the chance to genuinely enjoy each other’s company, while also learning about each of our unique connections to pet abuse, domestic abuse, and W.O.M.A.N., Inc. In the midst of it all, we also threw in a few fun pet challenges, including a “Longest Stay” challenge (i.e. the dog who could “stay” the longest) and a “Best Trick” challenge. Additionally, the Events Committee at W.O.M.A.N., Inc. held a raffle, featuring prizes uniquely fitted to the theme of pets, such as doggie treats/food, dog wash certificates, a pet variety gift-pack, and finally (though not for pets), a cafe gift certificate.. At the end of the event–we were able to raise a grand total of $310, from both raffle entries and voluntary donations.Doggie Walk 2014widoggiewalk2014-2


An overwhelming amount of research shows a strong correlation between pet abuse and domestic violence. If pet abuse is occurring, there is a great chance that domestic violence is also occurring. Studies show that as many as “71% of pet-owning survivors entering [domestic violence] shelters reported that their abuser had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims.” Survivors of domestic violence are also more tentative about leaving abusive relationships at the fear of their pets getting more hurt. Between 25% and 40% of survivors reported they were unable to leave an abusive situation because they worried what would happen to their pets. (“Facts About Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence”, n.d.). This stark statistic shows just how central pets are in the lives of many domestic violence survivors. Domestic violence is frequently a silent issue in and of itself; with the added concern of pet abuse, this predicament poses yet another obstacle for domestic violence survivors to seek help in their tenuous circumstances.


From all of us at W.O.M.A.N., Inc., we’d like to extend a sincere THANK YOU to our business sponsors:  Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods, Noe Valley Pet Co., K9 Scrub Club, and Duboce Park Cafe who all generously donated wonderful raffle items to support this event and our agency. Furthermore, we’d like to give a big THANK YOU to all our event participants! You all illustrate that it really takes a whole community to confront the challenges of domestic violence and we are so grateful for your support!W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Doggie Walk 2014

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C.U.E. Tip: Meditation


As advocates for survivors of domestic violence, we can feel overwhelmed and stressed. Our stress can make us tired, unhappy, and frustrated. This can affect our health and the relationships around us.

As explained in, “we are often so busy we feel there is no time to stop and meditate. But meditation actually gives you more time by making your mind calmer and more focused. A simple ten or fifteen minute breathing meditation can help you to overcome your stress and find some inner peace and balance. Meditation can also help us to understand our own mind. We can learn how to transform our mind from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful, from unhappy to happy.”

Taking time out of our days to meditate and shift our energy is a great way to handle being stressed and over worked.

Here is a quick guide to breathing meditation:

1. Choose a quiet place to sit

2. You can sit in a traditional cross legged position or what ever is comfortable

3. Keep back straight to keep our minds from being sluggish or sleepy

4. Have your eyes partially closed

5. Focus on your breathing, try to breath naturally don’t attempt to control it

6. Slowly try to become aware of the sensation of breathing, this is the object of meditation

7. If your mind wanders, it’s okay, immediately return it to your breaths

For more information on how to meditate, go to

What is C.U.E.? Read more about it.

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