Blue Shield Foundation Awards Grant to Expand DVIRC Statewide

W.O.M.A.N., Inc. is happy to announce that with the financial support of the Blue Shield Foundation, we’re able to make the DVIRC system accessible to even more domestic violence service providers across California. The project will span the course of two years and will include building a statewide expansion and sustainability plan for the DVIRC project.

Blue Shield Foundation Logo

The DVIRC emerged when California and many of our domestic violence agencies were threatened with no state budget allocation for services. This would have resulted in the diminishing capacity to offer survivors services. The DVIRC offered a solution by using “collective capacity” techniques and tools to serve survivors. The DVIRC’s collaborative nature means the system’s efficacy expands exponentially with the increase of agencies joining. With additional domestic violence agencies added to the system, domestic violence advocates across California will be better able to ensure survivors can locate shelters and other vital support services in a more efficient and timely manner. Learnings from the last phase of the DVIRC project, which included piloting the project in Del Norte and Ventura Counties, indicated that there was a very specific need in regards to collaboration, especially in rural areas with sparse resources.

At W.O.M.A.N., Inc., we strive to be innovative in our practices in response to survivors’ needs. We also believe that to truly shed light on domestic violence and work towards reducing it for future generations, the domestic violence field must work together to build a stronger, more coordinated network of domestic violence service providers and thus more appropriate, efficient, and reliable services for those suffering from abuse. We must be able to learn about each other’s domestic violence programming and share best practices, specialized knowledge working with specific populations of domestic violence survivors, and communicate with one another in so that domestic violence agencies in the state of California are not each working in their own independent silo to address a global problem. We’re excited about the next phase of the Domestic Violence Information and Referral Center Project and to see the positive outcomes of expansion for all survivors and the domestic violence advocates supporting them in California.

To learn more, check out the Blue Shield Foundation Website.

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The Healthy Babies Act Signed into Law by Governor Brown!

In a hugely positive development for pregnant women – especially survivors of domestic violence – on September 26, 2014 Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1579, known as the Healthy Babies Act.

The Act, authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone allows pregnant women to obtain CalWORKs benefits as early as the second trimester of pregnancy. CalWORKs provides income and employment opportunities which help keep pregnant women financially independent. Currently, CalWORKs assistance is not available until the third trimester of pregnancy.

Early access to assistance can help mitigate financial pressures and ensure better health outcomes for pregnant women and their infants. In fact, domestic violence is the most common health problem among pregnant women – one in six report physical or sexual abuse during pregnancy.

CalWORKs is a lifeline to safety for abuse survivors. According to the California Institute of Mental Health, eighteen percent of CalWORKs applicants apply for CalWORKs to escape abuse. Allowing pregnant women access to this resource earlier in their pregnancies will help low-income survivors of violence and their children remain independent, healthy and safe. WPI team with AS Mark Stone (bill author)

The law could not have passed without the help of the Women’s Policy Institute, and in particular the domestic violence team members: Mariya Taher, Julia Parish, Maria Caprio, Melodie Kruspodin, and Nicole Marquez who advocated for the bill throughout the past legislative year and were able to gather a broad range of supporters from California Latinas for Reproductive Justice to the California Catholic Conference.

W.O.M.A.N., Inc. is also a co-sponsored the Healthy Babies Act, and we are thrilled to see it enacted and the benefits that it will bring to pregnant survivors of domestic violence.

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San Francisco City Hall Lights up in Purple for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

For the second year in a row, San Francisco’s City Hall was lit bright purple to recognize the star of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, City leaders, and over 100 community advocates from the domestic violence field gathered to watch San Francisco City Hall light up in purple for the second time in two years. W.O.M.A.N., Inc. staff members Mariya and Mary attended the event to join with the community during this recognition. The crowd wore purple glow necklaces and held signs to showcase the achievements of the Justice and Courage Oversight Panel and to indicate San Francisco’s continued commitment to ending domestic violence.

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If you weren’t able to attend the event, you can watch the event here: Mayor Lee at “Shine a Light on Domestic Violence” Domestic Violence Awareness Month Launch

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Volunteer Highlight: Katrina Noelle

1) When did you first get involved with W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?

I got involved around 2012 by helping the organization survey their community (i.e. supporters, volunteers, etc.) to understand their current and ideal relationship with W.O.M.A.N., Inc. I was happy to donate my time to a very worthwhile local organization. My company concentrates in the insights/marketing research space, it was a great match.

2) What inspired you to do anti-violence work?

There is a great need to provide information, outreach and services to women of all demographic backgrounds, socioeconomic groups and neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area. When I researched the related organizations, W.O.M.A.N., Inc. seemed like the most worthy beneficiary of my pro-bono services.

3) What kind of opportunities have you been involved with here?

Since my initial involvement, I have joined the Events Committee to contribute on an ongoing basis. Key projects I have been involved with in that capacity include: volunteering for the San Francisco Rock n’ Roll marathon including a post-event survey capturing the experience had by both participants and volunteers as well as a project launched to understand the reaction to the new W.O.M.A.N., Inc. website design.

4) How has your involvement impacted your life?

I have been lucky enough to work with dedicated staff and volunteers on the W.O.M.A.N., Inc. team in general and in my committee specifically. The majority of my client base is in the for-profit sector, and it has been a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with a non-profit organization like W.O.M.A.N., Inc. The organization makes it a priority to incorporate feedback from their community to make their efforts, events and outreach as relevant as they can be. I’m glad to be a part of it!

5) What pieces of wisdom would you share with new volunteers or community members who are interested in supporting W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?

I would tell them to jump in with both feet and offer their expertise to help the organization grow. Find a committee that is in line with your interests and skills and get involved!

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A Great Benefit for W.O.M.A.N., Inc!


Yayne Abeba’s photo from the stage

W.O.M.A.N., Inc. would like to thank Lisa Geduldig, Maureen Langan, Betsy Salkind, Yayne Abeba, Eloisa Bravo, Stefani Smith, and Nick Leonard for generously donating their humor and smarts on behalf of W.O.M.A.N., Inc. The cozy back room at El Rio was full of friends and family from every generation. There was a four-legged fan there, too: Zach, who good-naturedly cleaned up the Matzo crumbs left behind from Salkind’s squirrel imitation (you really had to be there)!

In all, Comedy Returns to El Rio raised about $500 for W.O.M.A.N., Inc, and introduced W.O.M.A.N., Inc’s work to a larger audience. Thank you to everyone who came to support!

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Help Get W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Listed As Apart of SF’s Top 7 Favorite Charities!

Great news friends! W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has been listed again as apart of 7×7 Magazine’s Top 49 Favorite San Francisco Charities! We’ve been part of the Top 49 list for the past three years! It’s from the support of people like you that we have been able to be recognized alongside some of the most amazing charitable organizations in the city.

It’s now time for round two of the contest and we need your help! Getting us into the top 7 will grant us $2,000 from PG&E. This would help us provide our invaluable and life-saving services to survivors of domestic violence. Furthermore, winning 1st place would reward us $10,000 as well as recognition at an awesome event held at a hot spot location this winter! Please lend a hand to support us; vote and spread the word! Voting ends on Friday, November 7th!

Don’t forget you can vote as many times as you please!

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Sexting and Teen Dating Violence: New California Law Helps Protect Survivors of Non-consensual Pornography

by Shaena Spoor, Social Media Volunteer

I can recall a time in middle school where a group of giggling girls huddled around their friend to look at a nude photo someone had sent. It was pretty much accepted that if somebody obtained a nude or partially nude photo that it would be shared frivolously amongst peers. I didn’t think much of it at 13 years old, but I now understand the deeper implications of sharing others’ private photos or videos without their permission. In today’s society, it has become commonplace to have various technologies right at your fingertips, making it easy to communicate instantaneously. Sexting, sending someone sexually explicit photographs or messages via cell phone, has become a recurrent, normalized, dating practice in this age of technology. This is particularly true with teenagers. A recent study indicated that 1 in 5 teens admitted to engaging in sexting.

But, what happens when sexts (the explicit material sent via sexting) are distributed by the recipient without consent from the person who sent them? Did you know that teen sexting is illegal? Though specific state laws vary, the PROTECT Act, a federal law established in 2003, prohibits obtaining or producing sexually explicit or nude material of a minor. Such material falls under child pornography and anyone distributing it could be forced to register as a sex offender. Most teenagers are unaware of this law.

Teen sexting can be damaging in a myriad of ways. Not only can sexts be a component in bullying and harassment by peers, but can also be a tool used to maintain power and control in an abusive relationship. Data collected in 2008 indicated one in three adolescent females in the U.S. had encountered physical, emotional and/or verbal abuse from a romantic partner. It is also not uncommon for teens to feel pressured to send explicit photos to their partners. For example, teens might fear that refusing to send a nude picture might anger their partner. Or, the partner might make statements like, “you would send it if you loved me.” One study showed that 51% of teenage girls who sent sexually suggestive photos felt pressured to do so. Once the abusive partner has a hold of the photos/videos, the abuser can retain control of the survivor by threatening to share it on social media. In the event of a break-up, the abuser may also distribute the explicit material to get revenge and humiliate the survivor. The fact that this material is out there floating in cyberspace, and accessible by anyone can serve as a potential detriment that follows the survivor into their personal and professional lives. This type of sexual abuse is often referred to as “revenge porn.” The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative describes it as “the distribution of nude/sexually explicit photos and/or videos of an individual without their consent. Revenge porn, sometimes called cyber-rape or non-consensual pornography, is usually posted by a scorned ex-lover or friend, in order to seek revenge after a relationship has gone sour.” It becomes particularly dangerous for the target if this person’s personal information is attached to the photos.

2012-2013 Statistics on Revenge Porn

Until recently, there was little to no protection for survivors of non-consensual pornography. After all, perpetrators are afforded the anonymity of sitting behind their computer screens. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act implemented in 1998 made posting or sharing any type of digital media not belonging to you against the law. However, this law was not designed specifically with revenge porn in mind as it focuses primarily on copyright infringement. In January 2014, new penal codes were added in California to criminalize the non-consensual distribution of any nude or sexually explicit photos regardless of whether the photo was taken by the perpetrator or the survivor. This certainly a step forward in protecting survivors being controlled by such threats of non-consensual pornography.

If you or someone you know fears that nude photos of them were distributed without their consent, here are some additional resources that may help:

End Revenge Porn

Digital Millenium Copyright Act

Cyber Civil Rights Initiative

Women Against Revenge Porn

Without My Consent

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