Support W.O.M.A.N., Inc., Get a 2017 Pet Calendar!


Friends! We are excited to let you know the calendar is now in the works & available for order! Thanks to your submissions, next year’s calendar is full of love & sweet faces. We loved hearing about the healing & pure joy your animal companions bring to your lives.

Sure to be an awesome gift for yourself and/or loved ones, you can reserve your 2017 W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Pet Calendar here
Owning a pet and experiencing domestic violence adds an additional layer of complexity to the situation. The abusive partner may withhold money to pay for the animal’s food and water. When attempting to leave, a survivor might be denied housing and/or shelter access because the location does not accommodate pets. We have a fund that hopes to address some of these issues. The proceeds from our pet calendar sales will go back our Pet Fund which helps with food/water costs, kennel stays and more for pets whose humans have experienced domestic violence. 

Want a calendar, but wish to make a general donation to our programs and services? Make a donation of at least $30 $15 here, and indicate in the dedication notes that you would like a pet calendar!

Sneak peek below!

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Why Pet Calendar? Follow this link to learn more. 


How to Participate in Domestic Violence Awareness Month This October

  1. Knowledge is power! Educate yourself about healthy and unhealthy relationships.ch1-graph2Learn about the additional barriers people from different communities face when experiencing domestic violence. Challenge traditional ideas of domestic violence & squash misconceptions. Read about how different patterns of violence intersect with one another. Spread that knowledge around!
  2. Wear purple, the domestic violence awareness color. Show your support by adding some purple to your ensembles this October.
  3. Donate!
    • If you’re interested in supporting W.O.M.A.N., Inc.:
      1. Allstate’s Purple Purse Challenge! We are excited to be selected to  participate in this annual event, a nation-wide fundraiser to raise awareness of financial abuse & to promote economic empowerment. We have a chance to win $100,000 and would love to garner your support in our cause. Click here to find out how you can get involved.
      2. Contribute to our Pet Fund! Anyone who donates $25+ to the Pet Fund will receive a 2017 W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Pet Calendar
  • We are amongst a plethora of bay area anti-violence agencies. Find one you support, and contribute to the cause. Any little bit helps.

4.  Attend an event near you! Domestic violence agencies from all around the country will be hosting events to honor DV awareness month. Participating in one is an easy way to be apart of the movement.

5. Contact a local domestic violence agency to learn more about domestic violence and what you can do to help.

  • Interested in getting involved? Check out our volunteer opportunities!
  • Engage. Educate. Empower! W.O.M.A.N., Inc. is offering a free workshop on how to support survivors of domestic violence. supporting-survivors-ces

6. Talk about it! Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations about domestic violence awareness. With that said, part of being a good ally is to do your best to exercise non-judgmental love and support. If someone opens up to you about their experience with abuse, actively listen and believe the survivor when they are brave enough to speak their truth. Here are some tips on disclosure to keep in mind when dealing with those experiencing domestic violence:


7. Take action on social media! The internet is FULL of stuff to get involved with. Share with your networks why you’re standing up against DV this month, start/participate in awareness campaigns (Examples: SurvivedAndPunished, NoMore, CPEDV Calendar, #SeeDV). So many ways to show your support just from your computer at home.

Remember, domestic violence is a community issue. You can have a role in ending domestic violence. Learn more about ways you can help:


If you feel you or someone you know may be experiencing abuse, please feel free to give our support line a call at (415)864-4722. We are here for you 24/7. | 



YOUR Pet Could Be In Our 2017 W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Pet Calendar!

2016 Pet Calendar Cover

It’s that time of year again! Looking for animal friends to star in our annual W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Pet Calendar! If you’re unfamiliar with the history behind our Pet Calendar, you may be thinking “Okay. This is cute, but what is the relevance? Where do animals come into play when we’re talking about domestic violence?” Reasonable questions, here’s some context:

  • There is a big correlation between domestic violence & animal abuse. Statistics
    “I’m a domestic violence survivor. I’ve been though hell and back multiple times but Dakine, my Alaskan Malamute has stood by me every step of the way. She was my shoulder to cry on and always seemed to understand. Without her I don’t think I would have made the tough transition to freedom. She truly is my best friend.”

    show that people who abuse their partners are also super likely to abuse their pets. It is not uncommon that abusers harm/threaten to harm the survivor’s pet as a manipulation tactic.

  • Pets can play a large role in the survival and healing of those who’ve experienced violence and trauma. On top of many stories of pets intervening and protecting their humans in abusive situations, pets have anecdotally and statistically shown to be instrumental in the healing process of so many survivors. Our animal friends are a source of unconditional love, something we all deserve.

In addition to raising awareness for the correlation between domestic violence and animal abuse, we want to celebrate the therapeutic powers animals provide us during times of both struggle and healing. How has your pet impacted YOUR life? Whether your pet has helped you through hardship or you just want to share with the community about the joy your animal friend has brought to your life, we invite you to share what you’d like with us! Please submit a picture (no specific size requirements, we just ask that it is a clear photo) of your pet with a short blurb (~25 – 75 words) on what they mean to you to by Monday, November 28th. Be sure to include your name (unless you wish to remain anonymous; if that is the case please indicate so) and your pet(s) name(s). Feel free to get creative! Short stories, love letters or simple odes of appreciation all encouraged.

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Owning a pet and experiencing domestic violence adds an additional layer of complexity to the situation. The abusive partner may withhold money to pay for the animal’s food and water. When attempting to leave, a survivor might be denied housing and/or shelter access because the location does not accommodate pets. We have a fund that hopes to address some of these issues. The proceeds from our pet calendar sales will go back our Pet Fund which helps with food/water costs, kennel stays and more for pets whose humans have experienced domestic violence. 

Check out previous submissions on our Facebook: 2015, 2016


W.O.M.A.N., Inc. is excited to announce some new funders and projects!

Hybrid Domestic Violence Training

Thank you to The Joseph and Vera Long Foundation and Sidney Stern Memorial Trust who recently made a contribution to support our hybrid training project!


Fall 2015 W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Domestic Violence Training Graduation

Thanks to their generous support, W.O.M.A.N., Inc. training participants will benefit from online learning modules designed to meet the diverse needs of adult learning. This offline training will enrich our time together, and allow for learning activities, group conversation and building relationships within our training groups. Scheduled to launch in late-Spring, 2016, our hybrid training will speak to better use of capacity and offer ease when collaborating with our community partners.

The Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation

Thank you to The Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Foundation for supporting our domestic violence services. A first time funder of our work, The Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Foundation are supporting us as we support survivors of domestic violence, their family and their freinds. Funds will be allocated to our support line, drop in services and our Latina Program. photo (11)Thank you, Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation for bolstering our services with your grant!

Echando Pa’Lante
Our Echando Pa’Lante program received a boost in funding, enabling us to train five of our past program participants to become domestic violence advocates. Echando Pa’Lante (Moving Forward) members are Latina immigrants who have survived domestic violence. These leaders will be trained to provide outreach, provide counseling, and facilitate support groups. This work was made possible in part by Blue Shield Against Violence Foundation.


W.O.M.A.N., Inc. at #SurvivedandPunished: A Radical Coalition to End the Criminalization of Survivors


Last month, we were honored to be one of several awesome agencies co-sponsoring #SurvivedandPunished: A Radical Coalition to End the Criminalization of Survivors.This 4 hour event held at UC Berkeley was organized by California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Free Marissa Now, Stand With Nan-Hui, and Center For Race & Gender, UC Berkeley. Attended by advocates and passionate community members alike, #SurvivedandPunished featured a film, panel and discussion on the criminalization of domestic and sexual violence survivors.


The film “Out in the Night” chronicles the experiences of four African-American lesbian women from New Jersey who are charged with assault and attempted murder after experiencing sexual harassment and a potential attack. After being violently cat-called, threatened and approached by a straight man during a night out in New York, a scuffle ensues and the man in stabbed.imagesThe four women are arrested and charged with gang assault, assault and attempted murder; they are subsequently known as the “New Jersey Four”. The following trial and media accounts reflect how race, gender, class and sexuality intersect in such a way that these women were painted as a dangerous gang of ‘bloodthirsty’ lesbians, while completely ignoring the fact that they were victims of violent, homophobic language as well as dangerous threats. This film contributes to our understanding of how the criminal-legal system sometimes places survivors of violence into a double-bind where, as a result of being part of a marginalized group they are often left without recourse to the legal system for their safety, yet when they defend their very lives, they are often re-victimized by that same criminal-legal system. One of the “New Jersey Four”, Renata Hill, was present for the screening as well as for the Q&A after the film.

During the panel, individuals who organized the event and speakers from the Transgender Law Center and TGI Justice Project shared their insight on their work, on the myriad of oppressive systems that collaborate to create a criminal justice system that fails and even criminalizes survivors of violence, and on their experiences, some as incarcerated survivors themselves. Afterwards, they had attendees break out into groups to engage in rich, strategic discussions on how we can work as a community to address all these complex issues at hand. What do we picture in an ideal world with an ideal social construct, justice system and ideal reservoir of resources? How do we address state sanctioned violence? How do we better support survivors in immigrant detention and deportation proceedings? How do we end a system that criminalizes survival techniques of those experiencing abuse, particularly marginalized groups? What do we need? How do we get there? There are more questions to be asked, none of which can be definitively answered, but it is powerful to see gatherings like this come together sharing knowledge and passion dedicated to making an impact and working towards a better future.


Many thanks to the organizers, speakers, co-sponsors and participants that made this event possible. It was a phenomenal experience.

To learn more about the Survived and Punished Project, click here.

– Elena Alvarado-Strasser, DV Advocate & Shaena Spoor, Program Assistant

Dog Gone Good Time at the 2015 Bow Wow Bonanza

After organizing and settling on a location change, we were SO excited to be able to host our 3rd Annual Doggie Meet Up at the beautiful Lake Merritt Amphitheater!
Bow Wow Collage
On Sunday, October 18th community members and their playful pups joined us at our fundraiser benefiting W.O.M.A.N., Inc. There, the puparazzi captured awesome photos of our attendees participating in several activities including the 2016 W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Pet Calendar Photo shoot and the Mutt Strut, our doggie fashion show where our animal friends got to show off their outfits & ‘pawsome’ personalities. Winners and participants won some great, generously donated prizes courtesy of George, Humphrey Slocombe, Momo’s Restaurant and Pawtrero. All in all, this year’s Doggie Meet Up fundraising garnered $650 for our Pet Fund for Survivors!

Thanks to all who came to show their support and to the volunteers who made this event possible! Special thanks to Aleah Fajardo for her awesome photography skills & all puparazzi who shared their adorable photos of the event with us! You can check out photos from the event on our Facebook.

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.