Now Accepting Applications for our Fall 2015 Domestic Violence Advocate Training!

DV Fall 2015 40 Hour Training

Click through to access application

Check out what last session’s graduates had to say about the training:

  • “Alicia & Jenny were very strong facilitators, they allowed dialogue and were very clear on the subjects discussed. I felt supported always. ☺”
  • “I loved being a part of this training! Excited to start volunteering”
  • “I wish this training was provided in every part of the world to educate people. This will definitely reduce violence and educate people if they are being abused or not.”
  • “Thank you! [The facilitators] are both amazing, informative, and supportive leaders. I felt and still feel very comfortable coming to them for anything whether it’s relating DV work or not.”
  • “Great experience overall there was a feeling of community and support and common goal present throughout.”

Healing Hearts with Art Summer Support Group to Begin in July!

WHAT: Healing Hearts with ArtIMG_1917

START DATE: Tuesday July 14th. The group will meet every Tuesday through September 15th*.

TIME: 6:00-7:30pm Groups will start on time and facilitators will not be able to answer the door for anyone who is more than 15 minutes late. Note that this is a drop in group rather than an ongoing group; participants may attend any or all sessions during the series.

LOCATION: W.O.M.A.N., Inc. office, 333 Valencia, Ste. 450(between 14th St. /15th St.)

LANGUAGE: the group will be conducted in English.

This group uses art projects for expression and as a “healing tool”. There will be an art project each week along with other activities such as guided meditations, breathing exercises, etc. We utilize workshops created by A Window Between Worlds. Healing Hearts with Art was designed for anyone who is impacted by domestic violence. Whether you have survived abuse or love someone who has, you are welcome to attend. There will be group agreements that we will review at the beginning of each group. There is a suggested donation of $2 to $20 for each group. You are invited to donate if you wish.

Questions? Contact Shelley at 415-864-4777, extension 309. This is a voicemail number, so she will return your call within a few days. If you have any concerns about your safety in attending the group, we are happy to talk with you more about that and assist with any safety planning you might want, just call our 24 hour Support Line at 415-864-4722

We are unable to offer assistance with childcare during this group.

*One or more sessions may be canceled/modified due to holidays; in that event, participants will be notified in advance.

New Women’s Relationship Support Group Forming This Fall!

Our long time community partner is launching a new round of support groups. They do great work in the anti-domestic violence field, and we encourage you to check them out!Support Group Flyer 2015-page-001 (1)

San Francisco Support Group Forming Soon for women who feel unsafe in their relationships, past or present. The support group is co-led by Shalom Bayit and Bay Area Jewish Healing Center to create a spiritual healing atmosphere for women who have experienced abuse. It is free and confidential with childcare provided. All women are welcome regardless of age, religious background or affiliation, partner’s gender, or current relationship status. To sign up, call Shalom Bayit at (866) SHALOM-7 or (510) 451-7233. Additional information can be found at  

Volunteer Highlight: Sarah Lee

1) When did you first get involved with W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?
I first got involved with W.O.M.A.N Inc December of 2014 and the entire journey has been very enjoyable and life changing – from the wonderful staff and volunteers, to the people who I have encountered on the line and occasionally during walk-ins.
2) What inspired you to do anti-violence work?
Anti-violence is a cause that I truly believe in. I have personally experienced domestic violence and have seen the detrimental effects it creates not only in myself but also in the people around me who are affected. The effects of violence are devastating and I hope to somehow stop the transfer of violence so ideally no one will have to go through what I and others have been through.
3) What kind of opportunities have you been involved with here?
I volunteer every Friday from 9am-1pm in the office on the crisis line as a peer counselor and am now a paid support line advocate as well.sarah'spic2
4) How has your involvement impacted your life?
W.O.M.A.N Inc has changed my life! Through the process I became more conscious of systemic violence, privilege, isms, that domestic violence happens in all demographics, importance of self-care, importance of non judgmental understanding, listening, and patience, to name a few. It’s beautiful to be a part of a passionate community. I’ve also made some amazing friends through the process as well. Did I mention how fabulous the staff, volunteers, and the rest of the W.O.M.A.N. Inc. community are? I’m just so grateful to be a part of the W.O.M.A.N. Inc. community! :)
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 wouldn’t call this wisdom, but what has helped me is not taking what the survivors say or how they act too personally. Also self care is really really important because this kind of work is difficult and we are more susceptible to experiencing vicarious trauma. Finally the W.O.M.A.N. Inc. community is very supportive so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help.

Guest Bartending at Jackalope!


We had an amazing time guest bartending at Jackalope last Friday! With 25+ attendees and closeIMG_0396 to $500 earned in tips, we’d say this event was a great success! The money earned will be allocated towards our Bow Wow Bonanza where we will be celebrating the immeasurable love and support pets provide survivors during their times of struggle and times of healing. There, we will be raising money for our Pet Support Fund – a fund that seeks to provide aid for pet costs such as food, veterinary costs and kennel stays during a survivor’s time of need. Thanks to Alicia, Annie, Jaymie, Joy, Loren & Shaena for getting behind the bar, to all the fabulous people that came to support & to Jackalope for hosting us! Our organization could not thrive without the collaborative efforts of our volunteers & supportive community!

To see more photos from the event visit our facebook page

If you’re interested in supporting the Bow Wow Bonanza by donating, visit

Additional questions? Please contact

CANCELLED — BOW WOW BONANZA! Our 3rd Annual Doggie Meet Up!


We are very sad to report that due to permitting issues, we won’t be having the Bow Wow Bonanza on August 29th. But please STAY TUNED! This is a cause we really believe in, and we hope to have an event/meet-up/walk in the near future!


RSVP to this event on Facebook by clicking on the image above

W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Board Spotlight: Sara Matlock

Sara Matlock photo1) How did you come to be involved with W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?

For the past few years I have volunteered as a pro-bono consultant to Bay Area non-profits through the Taproot Foundation. In 2013 I learned about a project through Taproot to pull together a strategic assessment and environmental scan for WOMAN Inc. I was initially drawn to the organization for its mission and service to the community. While working on the project, I really enjoyed getting to know members of the WOMAN Inc team, board, and local domestic violence community. A few months after the project concluded, Lija invited me to join the board.

2) Can you tell us about your professional background?

My background is in corporate strategy and finance. I’ve worked at and consulted for a wide variety of organizations from start-up to Fortune 500 in both the for profit and non-profit arenas.

3) As a Board Member, what skills will you be able to bring to W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?

As I board member I will utilize my leadership, strategy, and collaboration skills to support WOMAN Inc as it continues to deepen and expand its ability to provide quality services to survivors.  WOMAN Inc has a rich history in the San Francisco community of empowering domestic violence survivors to create lives free of violence.  I look forward working with the organization to think creatively on how we can further its impact and have more stories of success and empowerment.

Survivor Story: “But in the end, I’m stronger. I’m not weak at all.”


Trigger Warning: Story contains depictions of emotional & physical abuse 

When I was younger I spent nearly 4 years in an abusive relationship.

At the time it just seemed normal, but it was bad. It was really bad. I was in denial at the time, but my life was in danger.

It is still hard for me to admit that sometimes because my abuser had my head so tied up in knots. It wasn’t until later that I learned about abuse cycles and gaslighting and when I first had them explained to me, I could see that they applied to me, but in a very distant way. A clinical way. Like I could see that there was this person whose situation was identical to mine and I could see that these scenarios applied to her, but that person wasn’t me. It couldn’t sink in and be my truth. There were always excuses for him and always reasons that I was different or I deserved it. I would think to myself that the circumstances that no one saw were nuanced that no one could label them and be sure they were abuse. And what if they were wrong? What if I was wrong? What if he was innocent of all these things and I really was crazy? That’s what he told me, right?

Let’s be clear: Gaslighting is a noxious, terrifyingly dangerous thing and it’s hard to break its hold over someone.

However, finally, with a decent amount of therapy, I came to see I wasn’t crazy. There is no other word but abuse for what he did to me. Loving people don’t hold you down and try to hurt you, threatening to break bones until you scream and ask for forgiveness. Loving people don’t chase you around the house wielding knives. Loving people don’t abuse your cat. Loving people don’t slam you against walls. Loving people don’t control who you can see or what you can wear. Loving people don’t force you into sex. Loving people don’t threaten to kill your friends. Loving people don’t wrestle you to the ground for “fun” and then hold you down when you’re begging them to stop. Loving people don’t then tell you everything they’re doing is your fault and for your own good or that you’re crazy and it didn’t happen the way you remember it.

Looking back today, I feel sorry for the girl I was when I was 18 to 22. I was so young and so vulnerable to this kind of predation and I was living in isolation from my friends and family. I used to beat myself up for not escaping sooner, but I now forgive myself for that and know that I did what I could with the tools that I had. All told, I kept myself as safe as possible, I got my cat out of the situation as soon as I could, and I left when I had a clear way out. I still have complex feelings about trying to leave and then going back to him a few times, but I can’t fix what’s in the past and as I said, I’ve learned a lot about abuse cycles and I’m working hard to apply those concepts to myself for the sake of self forgiveness.

I think that’s hard for abuse survivors: forgiving ourselves even when we’re not the ones who need forgiveness.

I think that ultimately I have to find good in what happened to me and now that several years have passed, I’m starting to.

I am a more resilient person and a more compassionate person because of what I went through. I am very grateful for what I have because at the very least, at all times I feel like I have love and safety and that’s not a basic human need I’ve always had met. Basic safety is something that many people on the planet lack. I can truly empathize with that since I’ve lived without day to day safety. I’m not sure everyone can truly appreciate how fortunate they are for this simple aspect of life. Most people in the developed world take it for granted, but it’s a precious gift. I wish every day that people who live without safety find their way to it.

I’m also more compassionate toward others because I never know what they’re going through. I was very secretive about my situation. I felt I couldn’t tell anyone because that would have made things more dangerous at home and he was careful not to leave marks where they would be visible. I try to be kind and patient and understanding that people may be putting on a brave face over horrible difficulties.

Above all, I am a more resilient person, even though it doesn’t seem like it sometimes with some of the mental health problems I’ve been left with. I am not very resilient with little things, but I have gotten through horrible major life events since my abusive relationship and as awkward as it sounds, I can feel myself drawing on the same defense mechanisms I used while being abused. “I got through that. I can get through anything. Everything has an end to it and if it gets worse, I will deal with it then, but right now, I just have to focus on what’s happening now and my primary concern is the people (or animals…remember the cat) around me.” I am usually calm in times of crisis, and I’ve been able to be a major support for family members as a result. So far this has mostly applied to medical and emotional crises, and family deaths. I don’t know how it would extend to natural disasters or more chaotic, adrenaline fueled events as I have an adrenaline related mental illness. However, I can typically take a deep breath and keep a clear head even when dealing with strong emotions and just get through it and deal with the emotional fallout later. The people around me know that they can turn to me when things are bad.

All of these emotional strengths have come out of my time of trial.

In short, I can’t just go along seeing a whole 4 years of my life as a loss; a waste. I have to see some positive. This is my positive. My abuser made me feel weak and helpless for so long, even after I left. But in the end, I’m stronger. I’m not weak at all.
I am still sad that I went through this time in my life. Nothing is going to change that. Never mistake my appreciation for the strengths I’ve gained for gladness that this happened to me. It was horrible and there’s no changing that. I’m angry at my abuser for what he did to me. Or at least I try to be. Some days anger lapses into fear and general anxiety if I’m perfectly honest with everyone. I’m still working on that. We’re allowed to be a work in progress. However, I am starting to try to turn it around and find hope and good in what I can’t change about myself and my past. We grow through adversity and whether I like the situation or not, it helped make me who I am today. Our past defines us, but we can choose how it defines us.