A Little W.O.M.A.N., Inc. History: One Survivor’s Story


Here at W.O.M.A.N., Inc., we work day in and day out to support domestic violence survivors. Our agency has been doing this since 1978, when it was founded by Deborah Clifford, James Foley, and Linda Pershing Foley as a two-bedroom shelter for survivors. The organization quickly realized that additional options were needed by survivors who, for many reasons, did not want to enter shelters. In 1979, the Crisis Line was created, which began receiving approximately 25-30 calls per month. We now receive over 21,000 calls a year! Soon after the Crisis Line was instituted, the agency also began providing counseling and support groups. 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 the option of obtaining a temporary restraining order.

Recently, a former client, who would like to go by Jane Doe, reached out to our agency to share her experiences at W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Jane was a client in the early 1980s. During a time of distress, she reached out to W.O.M.A.N., Inc. and joined a support group, attended workshops, and participated in art therapy and individual counseling. W.O.M.A.N., Inc. was also able to assist her in obtaining a temporary restraining order from her abuser. Years later, Jane reported to our agency that she has been in a healthy relationship for years to a committed partner, who she met and formed a relationship with after a long cycle of abusive relationships. In her own words, she says,

“The services that I received from W.O.M.A.N., Inc. were instrumental in helping me learn how to make better choices, set boundaries, and learn what a healthy relationship looks like so I could model my own life course in a positive way. I am living proof that what your organization does makes a lifelong difference for both individuals and the larger community. Working with your organization completely changed the trajectory of my life, and I thank you for helping me through a very difficult time of change and self-discovery.”

Learning about Jane’s story both thrilled the staff and reminded us that W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has a long history of empowering survivors of domestic violence, a history that spans decades and involves many people who called themselves domestic violence advocates, long before any of the current staff joined the W.O.M.A.N., Inc. team. We are so thankful to these folks for establishing W.O.M.A.N., Inc. and paving the way for future services provided by the agency. Without your help, hundreds of survivors of domestic violence would not have been able to receive the services they needed to create lives free of violence.

To support W.O.M.A.N., Inc., please click “Donate” here or scroll up and click the Donate button on the right side of this page!


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