Violence Against Women & Girls III

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Agencies and the women and girls they hope to serve face numerous barriers to providing and accessing services. These barriers mark the gaps in services available in San Francisco. The following barriers integrate, expand upon, or are in addition to the specific barriers noted in each population.


Interviews with service providers revealed several barriers they face in providing services to clients:

6.1.1 Chronic Shortage of Qualified Staff

Most agencies reported that adequate staffing was one of the significant barriers to their ability to provide violence against women programming. The economic climate in the Bay area has resulted in a very shallow supply of qualified individuals who are willing to work long hours for low wages and few benefits. The scarcity of affordable housing in San Francisco has forced most agency personnel to commute from outside of the city. In addition, staffing for violence related programs requires maturity and experience in handling sensitive issues. Many workers experience `burnout'. Due to the factors described above, agencies usually attract younger employees who often do not remain over the long term. In addition, most agencies reported difficulties in the recruitment of bilingual employees. While some collaboration between agencies has resulted in the "sharing" of bilingual staff, adequate language services are not available at most programs.

6.1.2 Inadequate Training of Agency Workers

Staff members are often unequipped to work with women with special needs. These include women who have been abused by other women, women who adhere to traditional views on sexuality, women working in prostitution or the sex industry, and women who are homeless and/or using illegal substances. The ability of staff members to handle the special needs of particular populations is critical to a woman's decision to continue to seek help.

6.1.3 Inadequate Training of Private Sector Providers

From the experiences of women we interviewed, private therapists and physicians are a risky choice for a woman seeking assistance from violence. Several women initially sought help from private therapists who clearly had no or little training in dealing with domestic violence or sexual assault. The therapists failed to recognize or acknowledge domestic violence or blamed the women for the violence. For example, one middle income woman sought individual and couple's counseling from a therapist because of her female partner's severe physical and emotional abuse. The therapist defined the issue as a communication problem between the partners and never defined her partner's violence as violence, inappropriate behavior, or dangerous to her physical and emotional well being. This woman, who has since left the abusive relationship with the help of friends (not, significantly, with the help of VAW services), reports being very angry about her experiences with private therapists. She felt betrayed and blamed. This same woman made several trips to the emergency room where, on one occasion, the doctor offered to list her broken nose as "bruised" in her medical records so that she could avoid "embarrassment." In another example, a rape survivor sought therapy from a college psychologist who blamed her for the rape. This woman became suicidal during the therapy. It was not until she entered a rape crisis center counseling program that she was able to begin healing.

6.1.4 Short Term Funding

Several organizations reported that time and resources required to constantly apply for funding and to satisfy the requirements made of funders detracted from their ability to develop and maintain programs. Because funding usually is made in smaller grants and requires renewal after one to three years, service providers reported that they were unable to initiate innovative long-term programs without assurances that funding for such projects would be sustained. Ideally, funding should cover a minimum of five years to enable programs to become established.

6.1.5 Inadequate Infrastructure

Organizations are in need of improvements in their facilities. Disabled clients are not able to access several programs located in buildings that are not compliant with ADA standards. In addition, there is a severe shortage of space at many of the service agencies. The high rental rates for property in San Francisco has prohibited agencies from moving to larger facilities and in some cases, has resulted in the relocation of organizations to less accessible locations. Greater efficiency in the delivery of services could be made with other capital improvements such as upgrades in existing computer and telecommunications equipment and the purchase of software that increase efficiency in the management of services and clients.


Analysis of open-ended responses to the COSW Survey and interviews with women and girls who have experienced violence, service providers, and key informants revealed numerous common barriers to accessing or receiving services:

6.2.1 Will not Seek Services Identified as Violence Related

Although clients and potential clients recognized the importance for services related to violence, the stigma and shame associated with experiencing violence prevents many from accessing such services. Women reported feeling responsible for the violence, not wanting to embarrass family by telling outsiders about violence, and not wanting to be identified as a "victim."

6.2.2 Do not Identify with Available Services

The insularity of many populations contributes to the belief among women and girls that services provided by agencies outside of their particular communities are not directed at them, will not be sensitive to their particular needs, or will encourage inappropriate or unwanted actions. Unless an agency makes a specific effort to target specific populations, it is less likely women and girls in these populations will seek out services from that agency. For example, Narika, a Berkeley based agency targeting South Asian women, did not start receiving significant numbers of Muslim South Asian women until a Muslim staff member was hired and began doing outreach to the Muslim community.

6.2.3 No Unified Definition of Violence

The definition of violence accepted by service providers, activists, and academics is not the same definition accepted by large portions of the general public. Nearly all service providers stated that the majority of their clients did not define violence as broadly as they do. Clients had to be "educated" about what constitutes violence. While physical violence seems to be broadly accepted as violence, other forms such as forced sex (particularly in the context of marriage), verbal insults and intimidation, emotional torment, and financial control are not so widely defined as violence. Many either do not question such behavior or define it as a natural outlet of anger or frustration that cannot be changed. Additionally, the consequences of these behaviors are insidious and not easily recognized by survivors. If an individual does not define her experience as violence, no matter how much she may desire change, she will not seek help from violence prevention or intervention programs.

6.2.4 Inability to Communicate with Service Providers

The majority of women and girls who have recently arrived in the United States are unable to communicate in English. This often prevents awareness of services and the ability to access them. In addition, women with disabilities such as deafness and blindness are particularly vulnerable to being under-served as few service agencies are able to offer sign language and Braille material to potential clients.

6.2.5 Belief that Violence can not be Resolved

For many women the predominant view of violence, particularly within the family, is that physical, verbal and emotional abuse is commonplace and to be expected between family members. It is believed that economic survival and maintaining an intact family unit are more important than these incidents of violence. In addition, women often do not perceive alternatives to the violence. For women and girls living in precarious circumstances, such as the homeless, substance abusers, and sex workers, violence may be so much a part of everyday life that alternatives are impossible to imagine. From the open-ended responses given to the COSW Survey, it is apparent that some women feel that it is better to "forget about the violent incident" and "put it behind you." Seeking services was "too much trouble" and would possibly "complicate their lives" even further.

6.2.6 Fear of Negative Consequences from Seeking Services

Fear of losing custody of children: Many perpetrators threaten to take the children away. Women reported that this prevented them from attempting to seek services until children became the victims or potential victims of abuse. Strong patriarchal values on lineage in some cultures may contribute to this barrier as children are traditionally believed to be the "property" of the husband. In addition, when seeking services means leaving children behind, women will often choose to remain in situations of violence rather than abandon their children. In the survey, a number of women stated that it was concern for children, which kept women from seeking services.

Fear of ending relationship: Although there is violence within an intimate relationship, many women differentiated between wanting the violence to stop and wanting the relationship to end. The perceived insistence on breaking the cycle of violence by ending the relationship was not seen as an acceptable resolution for women who felt, for example, that they had to `respect their marriage vows', that they were in love or that children need both parents.

Fear of ostracism from community: Clients believe that in reporting violence and seeking services they will be separated from their communities. They believe that in breaking taboos associated with making public violence and/or sexuality, members of the community will reject them. In addition, clients were fearful of seeking services located outside of their community for fear of losing their social network.

Fear of deportation: Immigrant women reported that husbands, fathers-in-law, and other immigration sponsors threatened to report them to the INS if they sought assistance.

Fear of not receiving services: Women reported that they were reluctant to report violence and/or seek services out of fear that their experiences would not be believed or that their experiences would not be seen as violent. This is of particular concern for LBT women who have experienced violence from other women, women who experienced "date rape", youth who were abused by other youth, and those experiencing violence from someone in a position of authority.

Fear of prejudicial treatment: Several women reported that they did not seek services out of fear that they would be treated negatively. Women of color, in particular, were wary of reporting violence to authorities due to their experiences in confronting racism and discrimination. Immigrant women fear having their immigration status questioned. LBT women fear prejudicial treatment due to homophobia and transphobia. Women in the COSW Survey repeatedly stated that they were `afraid of the police' and had `no trust in the system.' The deep mistrust marginalized and oppressed populations have for authorities or agencies prevents these authorities and agencies from being a viable alternative for women and girls experiencing violence.

6.2.7 Not Aware of Available Services

Many women, especially recent immigrants, may not be familiar with the idea of violence related services. In addition, violence is usually a matter dealt with by the family. Several immigrant women reported that they were unaware that services specifically addressing violence against women existed in the United States. Such services were not commonplace in their countries of origin and they were unfamiliar with the concept of obtaining assistance outside the family for such services. This contributes to a lack of awareness that such services exist in San Francisco.

6.2.8 Attitudes towards Age and Gender

A significant number of women and girls in San Francisco originate from societies that maintain strict age and gender hierarchies. These hierarchies will often prevent youth from reporting violence experienced from older family members and women from reporting violence from husbands, other intimate partners and other family members. Beliefs in age hierarchy and traditional gendered roles significantly prevent many women from questioning abuse or perceiving options for dealing with abuse.

6.2.9 Concepts of Privacy and Shame

A dominant belief among many women and girls is that violence, particularly within the family, is considered shameful and a private matter. Women who reveal experiences of violence are believed to bring shame and dishonor to their families and are often given little support within their communities. The family is of paramount concern overriding a woman's concern for herself, as one Middle Eastern immigrant stated: "It is very complex. We come attached to our family. We're not as individualistic as Americans are. We are very attached to our family ties and everything we do in our lives is reflected in that."

6.2.10 Emotional Reactions

Women who have experienced violence repeatedly referred to the emotional turmoil caused by violence. They cite volatile emotional states of confusion, despair and disbelief coupled with fear of retaliation as contributing to women's and girl's inability to seek services. The psychological impact of repeated attacks on one's self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, and an inability to trust others also contribute to why women and girls do not seek services.


In developing general recommendations, we have distinguished between agencies whose sole mission is the provision of violence prevention and intervention services and community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve the broader needs of particular populations.91 Our research has demonstrated the vital roles both types of agencies serve in addressing violence against women and girls and the absolute necessity of collaboration between those agencies.

Support and expansion of violence-specific agencies and their programs are imperative to address the needs of women and girls experiencing violence. These agencies and their dedicated staff have indispensable expertise in addressing the needs of women and girls in crisis, in conducting outreach, and in formulating and promoting prevention efforts. They serve an important leadership role within the broader service-provider network in advocating for and keeping attention focused on violence prevention and intervention. However, they cannot adequately address the multiple needs of diverse clients. As this research has demonstrated, there are numerous populations for whom seeking services from violence-specific agencies is not acceptable, possible, or adequate. These agencies have made admirable attempts to accommodate the needs of all of San Francisco's women and girls, but the sheer diversity of San Francisco has made this an impossible task.

On the other hand, CBOs serving specific populations such as the disabled, Muslims, or African immigrants, have essential expertise and experience in dealing with their clients' broader needs. Their devoted staff have the awareness and sensitivity necessary in providing appropriate and acceptable services to their clients. They have vitally important capabilities such as language skills necessary for effective intervention. And, perhaps most importantly, they represent a trusted, non-threatening locus of support for community members. Individuals and families may seek services from CBOs without threatening their identity or their place within their community. However, very few CBOs have staff trained specifically to deal with woman and girls who have experienced violence.

The following recommendations emphasize the need for violence-specific agencies and CBOs to collaborate in addressing violence. Neither type of agency can effectively tackle this problem alone. The development of violence prevention and intervention programs within CBOs must be promoted and supported. These programs should be population-specific and ameliorate specific barriers that violence-specific agencies cannot adequately address. And they should be designed and operated through collaboration with violence-specific agencies, creating an integrated, citywide response to violence.

Collaboration between agencies is not an intuitive process. If collaboration is to be successful and on going, funders of collaborative programs must also provide technical training to collaborating agencies on how to develop and maintain effective collaborative projects. Collaborative projects have a very high risk of failure if agencies do not receive technical training in how to collaborate and do not institute procedures basic to the maintenance of collaborations. The role of each agency must be explicit, communication between agencies must be continuous and well defined, and the expertise of each agency must be acknowledged and integrated into the collaboration.

Finally, providers must understand the multiple and, sometimes, contradictory models used by agencies in addressing violence. Providers need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each model, the situations and populations most likely to benefit from each model, and how to work collaboratively with agencies using different models. Collaboration between agencies using different models is vital to a successful, integrated citywide response to violence. It is only through the implementation of services that encompass all models that all women and girls will have access to services. However, collaboration is not possible if agencies do not respect and understand different models of service provision.

The following general recommendations integrate, expand upon, or are in addition to specific recommendations made for each population:

7.1 Promote Community Based Programs in Collaboration with Violence-Specific Agencies

Many women and girls are more likely to access services that come from within their communities. Such services circumvent many of the barriers and fears women face in seeking services from providers unfamiliar with their identities or circumstances. CBO-based programs have the advantage of tackling violence in an appropriate and acceptable manner to specific populations. Violence-specific programs have the advantage and experience of dealing with crisis situations. Following are recommendations for specific programs:

Promote outreach to specific populations: Programs increasing awareness within specific populations about how to identify violence and where to seek assistance should be promoted. Outreach to community and religious leaders is particularly important as they have the power to influence community attitudes and responses to violence. The COSW Survey data suggests that people experiencing violence will often seek assistance or guidance from family or friends. Thus, it is vital that a significant component of this outreach focus on how someone can assist family or friends experiencing violence. Collaboration will insure that outreach is conducted in the most effective way to reach a specific population. Creativity in developing non-traditional methods of outreach should be encouraged.

Promote provider education and training projects: Violence-specific agencies should provide education and training to CBOs about how to identify and deal with violence. CBOs should provide training to violence-specific agencies about how to provide appropriate and acceptable services to specific populations. Legal service providers should provide training to providers about the legal rights and remedies for clients. These complementary education and training projects should be a component of all collaborations among agencies.

Promote education and sensitivity training of authorities and caretakers: Programs must be developed to educate authorities figures such as police officers, security guards, teachers, and employers about populations such as sex workers, LBT women and girls, the disabled, the elderly, and youth, who are particularly vulnerable to violence perpetrated by authorities and caretakers. This is imperative in light of the COSW Survey results, which reveal that seeking help from authorities is the action most likely to be taken in situations of violence, while at the same time there is expressed fear and mistrust of the system and its representatives.

Develop community based transitional and long-term housing: There is a significant problem of homelessness after women exhaust the maximum time limits on occupation of emergency shelter. Currently, there is a chronic shortage of transitional and long-term housing. Clients who have been fortunate to have found spaces in existing programs report feelings of isolation and alienation. As immediate dangers from violence recede, women wish to reside in their communities and are fearful of permanent breaks in their social networks. The development of transitional and long-term housing through collaboration between CBOs and violence-specific agencies will insure appropriate, holistic services with knowledgeable violence prevention and healing components.

Promote a central 1-800-crisis line with multilingual access: Considering only 7% of respondents in the COSW survey stated they would use a 1-800-crisis line if seeking help for violence, a central crisis line should not be a priority in developing services at this time. However, if funding is available to develop an integrated central crisis line in conjunction with an extensive public education campaign to promote the line, such a service may be beneficial. With appropriate public promotion, residents may come to view it as an appropriate source of help and guidance. If a crisis line is developed it should be developed in collaboration with all VAW agencies and relevant CBOs. The current lack of bilingual crisis line workers requires that women who are monolingual in languages that are not provided at the time of their call be called back when an appropriate staff member is available. This not only increases the probability that these women will not be provided services, but it also aggravates a sense of alienation, fear and isolation that women in crisis may feel when seeking help. It is not feasible for each individual agency with a crisis line to recruit enough staff and volunteers to cover all possible language needs and the current effort to share translators among agencies does not resolve the problem. In order to prevent the need for callbacks and to provide immediate help for women and girls in crisis, a universal hotline number should be developed. This central hotline should operate utilizing the resources of the entire network of VAW agencies and CBOs. One possibility is to have a central answering service staffed by trained crisis line operators who, if dealing with a monolingual caller, will determine the language needs of the caller. They can then immediately transfer the call to an appropriate bilingual 24-hour crisis line operator. These bilingual operators may either be at the central crisis line center or at participating CBOs or VAW agencies that serve the caller's particular community and, therefore, have bilingual staff and volunteers easily available. Recruiting enough staff and volunteers to operate the universal crisis line would then be feasible because they would serve the needs of all agencies in the city. Thus, for example, only enough Farsi speakers would need to be recruited to cover hours during which a Farsi speaker is not available on staff at a participating agency.

Provide viable alternatives to violent environments: A violence prevention effort must provide viable alternatives to the environments in which women and girls are exposed to violence. This is best done in collaboration. After school programs for youth and routinely scheduled family activities are examples of events where CBOs may collaborate with VAW service agencies in providing VAW information in a non-confrontational manner.

Promote family-oriented, holistic programs: There are insufficient programs that treat families holistically when addressing violence. Such programs are particularly important in reaching several priority populations who do not relate to or have multiple issues that cannot be addressed by traditional or feminist service models.

Promote programs that address all forms of violence: Very few agencies deal with all forms of violence, leaving women and girls who are abused by non-intimate family members (parents, children, parents-in-law), strangers, acquaintances, or authority figures (police, employers, caretakers, teachers) no place to go. This is a very serious gap in services that must be addressed. Agencies continually receive calls from San Franciscans seeking help, but are unable to offer help and have no place to refer these individuals because the abuser is not an intimate partner. Again, such programs will be more successful in reaching all populations if designed and operated as collaborations.

Promote programs to deal with perpetrators of violence: Programs addressing perpetrators of violence are inadequate both in the populations they are able to serve and in their ability to influence and positively change behavior. The court mandated 52 weeks of therapy for perpetrators is arbitrary and not based upon sufficient research regarding successful and appropriate methods of treatment. Creativity in designing programs that require accountability to the community and community support and monitoring should be encouraged. Programs also must be designed that are appropriate to the particular needs and experiences of communities.

Promote early childhood violence prevention and intervention education: COSW, VAW service providers, and CBOs should take a leadership role in lobbying for mandatory early childhood anti-violence education programs analogous to sex education. Such programs should begin in the first year of primary school and continue through the last year of high school. Education efforts should cover appropriate and respectful behavior, identifying violence, anger management skills, conflict resolution, self-defense skills, safe dating skills, and where to seek help in cases of violence. Mandated education would serve both to prevent violence and as outreach to youth, who do not know where to seek assistance. As experts in violence prevention and intervention, service providers should also be encouraged and funded to develop appropriate curriculum guidelines and teacher training guidelines for implementing such a curriculum.

7.2 Promote Empowerment Programs

A lack of resources and choices severely limits a woman's options in dealing with violence. Prevention efforts must include programs that promote the empowerment of women. The following empowerment programs are recommended:

Promote job training and placement programs: Women who wish to leave a violent situation within the family are often impeded by their lack of job skills. Immigrant women, in particular, need vocational training that will allow them to earn independent incomes. In addition, several clients reported that if they contributed to the family income, violence levied by husbands, fathers and father-in-laws, and others might be prevented as these potential perpetrators would have less power and control over the women.

Promote immigration and naturalization programs for immigrant women: A significant fear among immigrant women and girls who wish to seek VAW services results from a lack of information on their legal rights as non-naturalized residents of the U.S. A multi-lingual program educating immigrant women of these rights is needed. Critical to the success of such a program will be creative outreach measures that may include the showing of informational videos and distribution of brochures on international flights and at immigration checkpoints in airports.

Promote life skills educational programs for immigrant women: A multifaceted program providing literacy and ESL classes as well as instruction on everyday skills such as how to use a telephone, how to lock and unlock doors and windows, how to ride public transportation and where to locate the nearest hospital, clinic, and police station are needed for immigrant women. Immigrant women who do not reside in ethnic enclaves and have little social contact with others who speak their language and who are familiar with the beliefs, values, and customs of their native society are at particular risk for not receiving services for violence. Written information on such programs should be distributed in a wide array of languages to immigrants and refugees arriving in the United States.

Promote self-defense classes: Self-defense classes teach a woman how to defend herself and avoid situations placing her at higher risk for violence. They also are important in promoting a woman's sense of confidence, teaching her that she can protect herself. They should especially be encouraged for adolescents and young women who are undergoing a developmental stage in which their self-esteem suffers.

Promote enhancement of personal strengths: Skills such as assertiveness, public speaking, critical thinking, and leadership are all traits that increase one's confidence and sense of personal power. Many of the COSW survey respondents suggested empowerment as an effective way to prevent violence.

7.3 Promote a Public Awareness Campaign

There is no generally accepted definition of what constitutes violence across cultures and communities. Additionally, there is a tremendous lack of understanding about and fear of seeking help in dealing with violence. If the city of San Francisco is committed to ending violence as it is now defined within the service provider, activist, and academic communities, then it must convince all of its citizens that these defined acts are violent and that assistance is available. Respondents to the COSW Survey identified raising community awareness as the most effective way of preventing violence. An integrated public awareness campaign should be conducted targeting all communities and using multiple, culturally appropriate methods. Such a campaign should:

a) promote a single city-wide definition of violence;

b) define the negative consequences of violence to the individual, family, and community;

c) promote community intolerance of all these forms of violence;

d) reinforce that all communities are vulnerable to violence;

e) explain where to seek help from violence;

f) explain what will happen when seeking help, including what a person's rights are with respect to child custody, immigration, and economic support; and

g) provide models of alternative, non-violent behavior.

It is imperative that the campaign implement varied, creative and non-traditional approaches to reach all citizens and that the campaign be sustained long enough to impact community attitudes. For example, the above messages may be given sequentially over several years, building upon and reinforcing each previous message. In designing the campaign, it is absolutely vital that community leaders and CBOs have significant input to insure culturally appropriate messages and community support of the campaign.

7.4 Promote Training of Authorities and Private Sector Providers

Programs to train authorities and private sector providers such as doctors, therapists, and lawyers to identify abuse and to respond appropriately to both abusers and survivors must be promoted and funded.

Promote education and sensitivity training of authorities and caretakers: Programs must be developed to educate authority figures such as police officers, security guards, teachers, and employers about populations such as sex workers, LBT women and girls, the disabled, the elderly, and youth, who are particularly vulnerable to violence perpetrated by authorities and caretakers.

Develop education and training curriculum for medical, law, and professional schools: VAW service providers should be encouraged to develop medical, psychotherapeutic, and legal education curriculum to be made available to medical, law, and professional schools for adoption within their regular curriculum. This approach, which has been used successfully by organizations promoting improved education of medical students about women's health, will insure that future providers will know how to identify and respond appropriately to violence against women and girls. Even if professionals do not provide direct services to women and girls who have experienced violence, they were identified by COSW Survey respondents as a likely source of information and referrals.

Develop continuing education curriculum for practicing professionals: VAW service providers should be encouraged to develop a curriculum and attain state continuing education certification to provide the actual continuing education training of doctors, therapists, nurses, and lawyers. This will insure that currently practicing professionals receive training in identifying and responding appropriately and effectively to violence against women. This approach may also provide financially strapped service agencies a vital source of income through fees for continuing education training.

7.5 Expand Existing VAW Programs

Service providers and clients reported a significant need for the expansion of specific VAW programs. These programs are either oversubscribed or, due to a lack of funding and/or qualified staffing, not offered on a consistent basis.

Increase Support of long-term Counseling and Support Groups: Therapy, particularly support groups, was identified as one of the top needs desired by women and girls of San Francisco. Lack of funds and/or staffing result in interruptions of counseling and support groups for women and girls. Private counseling and therapy is not an option for the majority of women and girls because of the expense. Counseling and support groups are often critical for building social networks after a woman has decided to seek services for violence. The very short term counseling available now has a "band aid" effect and is insufficient to enable women to heal and move on.

Expand Emergency Shelter Programs: Currently, shelters are highly oversubscribed. The three shelters within San Francisco do not focus on outreach efforts as they are consistently at capacity and must turn away over 50% of the women who contact them for shelter. These programs have been highly successful, as they are able to offer services in a wide array of languages. The expansion of shelter programs should include efforts to recruit bilingual and bicultural staff. It should also include an effort to accommodate those populations not adequately served by shelters.

7.6 Improve Agency Infrastructure and Operations

Agencies cannot provide efficient and effective services when they are preoccupied or hindered by poor infrastructure and limited options in operating procedures. While providing resources to ameliorate institutional problems may not appear to be a priority, ignoring these problems is shortsighted. The following recommendations will improve agency ability to perform mandated goals:

Improve physical access to existing services: Agencies need support to become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This includes making agencies accessible to the hearing impaired through TDD/TTY telephone systems. To assist in planning improvements, agencies may request a manual from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence which gives guidelines for violence against women agencies on becoming ADA compliant.92

Expand operating hours: Agencies need to improve their accessibility to working clients by operating during non-traditional hours such as in the early mornings, evenings, and on the weekends. This will require increased support from funders.

Encourage assistance in the purchase of agency offices: Agencies need assistance in purchasing affordable offices to relieve the financial burden of renting inadequate facilities and the threat of losing facilities when rents increase. Low interest loans, city subsidized office space, or other forms of assistance or debt relief should be examined.

Standardize reporting requirements of funders and provide computer programs to agencies to manage reporting requirements: Funders differ in their reporting requirements of service agencies. These requirements include statistical tabulations of client demographics, interim progress reports and program evaluations. Time spent on these projects diminishes the amount of time staff members are able to spend on providing services to clients. Funders should work together to standardize reporting requirements so that one report may be submitted to all funders. In addition to standardization of reporting requirements, a computer software program should be developed that may be given free to all grantees to simplify accounting and reporting requirements. Thus, for example, agencies that are still using the old fashioned method of counting up hash marks to keep track of demographics will be able to free up expensive and valuable resources for the actual work of preventing and dealing with violence.


This research has pointed to numerous, serious gaps in research necessary for providing violence against women services. The following recommendations are suggested for future research:

8.1 Population-Specific Research on Experiences of Violence

Research needs to be conducted on the prevalence of violence, the types of violence experienced, and personal experiences of violence for specific populations. While we know violence occurs in every community, we do not have a clear understanding of the variation across communities. A better understanding of violence within populations is vital to address violence appropriately.

8.2 Program Assessments

Current programs must be assessed systematically to determine client experiences, needs and satisfaction. Most agencies currently conduct their own assessments by interviewing or administering questionnaires to clients. Agency self-assessment is inadequate to assess program effectiveness. Clients may be inhibited in their complaints and agency staff may be tempted, consciously or unconsciously, to minimize problems in the program. Assessments should be conducted by researchers who are not affiliated with the program's agencies to ensure unbiased responses from clients. While we were able to interview agencies and have access to demographic information, determining client satisfaction with specific programs was beyond the scope of this research. Such an assessment is vital to determining whether or not specific programs and agencies are indeed meeting the needs of their clients. While we had difficulty accessing current clients of agencies because of agency reluctance to expose their clients to research, we were able to interview numerous women who had or were currently receiving services and who had very strong feelings, both positive and negative, about the assistance they received.

8.3 Research on Perpetrators of Violence

Research must be conducted on those who perpetrate violence. A holistic effort must be used to end violence and this includes understanding the roots of violence and how to end that violence. Little research has been conducted on perpetrators of violence, batterer treatment programs and their success rates.












1. What services does your agency offer?

a. What Violence against Women services do you provide? (Listen to respondent's narrative and then use COSW standardized categories)

___accompaniment ___crisis line ___shelter

___advocacy ___education ___media contacts

___case management ___legal ___other

___information/referral ___distribute materials

___counseling ___technical assistance

b. In what languages are these services provided?

2. Go over statistical and demographic data.

3. How does your agency define Violence against Women?

4. Do you find that your clients have a similar definition?

5. Do your clients using Violence against Women services also utilize your agency's other services?

a. If so, which ones?

6. Is your funding sufficient to provide Violence against Women services to all people seeking them?


7. Please describe the typical process a client goes through to obtain services at your agency.

8. Do you charge a fee for your services? YES NO

a. If yes, have you had to turn away potential clients because of these fees?

9. Do you have any eligibility requirements/rules for services? YES NO

a. If yes, what are these requirements?

b. If yes, what proof of eligibility do you require?


10. What do you think makes a woman decide to come in for services? (type, severity, frequency, victim of violence)

11. Who do your clients most commonly report as the perpetrator of the violence?

12. What are your clients' most common concerns? (Probe: immigrant status)

13. Are there any populations that you see needing services but not coming in for them?

a. Why do you think are they not coming in?


14. What barriers do potential clients face in receiving your services? [Prompts: how they define violence, stigma, lack of privacy, poor facilities, lack of interpreters, fees for services]

15. What barriers do you face in providing services? [Prompts: lack of funding, staffing, poor facilities, client definitions of violence]

16. Do you have a referral process for individuals you cannot help or who need additional services? YES NO

17. Are there services that you would like to provide but are not doing so now? (refer to response to Q 12)

a. If yes, what are these services?

b. If yes, what do you need to be able to provide these services?


18. How do clients know about your services? [Prompts: community outreach, referral, advertisement, word-of-mouth]


- Are there any important issues we haven't addressed in this survey

-inform respondent of phase two and ask for their assistance in recruiting participants

-ask respondent to suggest other agencies/organizations to interview




COSW Funded Agencies

Arriba Juntos-Proyecto Apoyo

Asian Perinatal Services

Asian Women's Shelter

Bay Area Legal Aid (formerly SF Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation)

Bayview Hunters Point Foundation

La Casa de las Madres

Center for Human Development

Chinatown Youth Center

Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic (CROC)

Domestic Violence Legal Services

Donaldina Cameron House

Horizons Unlimited

Mary Elizabeth Inn

Mujeres Unidas y Activas

The Riley Center

San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR)

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

Women in Dialogue/U.S. Prostitute Collective

Women's Safety Project

YMCA Mission Girls Services

(Only one COSW funded agency, Nihonmachi Legal Outreach, was not interviewed.)

Other San Francisco Agencies

African Immigrant and Refugee Resource Center

The Arab Cultural Center

Catholic Charities

Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse Resource Center

Community United Against Violence (CUAV)

District Attorney Family Violence Project

Friendship House/Healthy Nations

Glide Memorial

Guerrero House

Independent Living Resource Center

Instituto Familiar de La Raza

Jelani House

Jewish Family and Children's Services

March Of Dimes - Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Project (TAPP)

Men Overcoming Violence for Equality (MOVE)

Mission Neighborhood Health Clinic

Mount Saint Joseph's

Native American Health Center

North Of Market Senior Services

OMI Family Services

Sage Project

Samoan Community Development Center

San Francisco Network for Battered Lesbian and Bisexual Women

San Francisco Rape Treatment Center

Traumatic Stress Unit

UCSF/Mt. Zion Violence Prevention Project

West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Corporation

Agencies outside of San Francisco




Islamic Network Group






Introduce self as focus group moderator:

We're meeting here today to find out what services you think are needed for women and children who've experienced violence. Your comments and opinions will be presented to the Commission on the Status of Women, along with the comments of women from other communities in San Francisco

We're running this discussion as a `focus group' which means there are a few things we all have to agree to:


Everything we say in this room stays in this room. When your comments are reported back to the Commission, you will not be individually identified.


This discussion is based on respect. We're interested in your opinion. If you don't agree with your neighbor's opinion, you can say that but no personal attacks. Also, everyone should have the chance to answer the question on the table.


We'll be dealing with a sensitive topic...if there's any question you don't want to respond to, you don't have to. Just say "pass" when your turn comes.

-tape recorded

This discussion will be tape-recorded so that I can pay attention to what you're saying, and not have to be taking notes at the same time. After we compile your comments, the tape will be destroyed. Is that okay with everyone?

Are there any questions before we start?

Definitions of violence

I'm going to start by asking what do you consider to be violence against women?

(prompt for broader definitions if not mentioned; consider violence in the street, in the home, at work, at school, in public)

How is this kind of violence viewed in your community? (explore acceptance, disapproval, etc.)

Exploration of options

When you or your friends have experienced violence, where have you gone for help first?

If not you, where have people you know gone?

Can you tell me about it.

Why did you seek help?

What were your concerns?

Did you feel you got help at _____? (refer to previous comments)

What was helpful? Why?

If type of violence not mentioned (intimate violence, sexual assault, incest/molestation, harassment), ask what women would do in a hypothetical situation.

gaps and barriers to services

What services do you know of that are available for ________?

(Use types of violence already brought up; domestic violence, sexual assault, incest/molestation, harassment)

Have you or your friends/family ever gone to ______?

Do you feel you got help at _____?

If yes: What was helpful? Why?

If no: How were you treated?

What makes it difficult to go to ____?/What would make it easier to___.?

If not mentioned,

Is there anything about being XX that service providers should be sensitive to?

You didn't mention_____________. Why is that? (probe for attitude towards services)


accompaniment crisis line shelter

advocacy education (parenting, etc.)

case management legal

information/referral support groups


What services would you like to see available to women in your community?


There's been a move to offer preventive services like self-defense training, anger management and training women to be peer advocates. What do you think of these efforts?

public awareness campaign

Have you seen this poster? (show model)

What do you think about it?


Is there anything we haven't talked about or any other comment you'd like to make?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions with us.

I know the topic of violence is not an easy one. If this discussion brought up any issues that you may want to talk about with a counselor, I can give you a number to call.

I also have some pamphlets available with resource information.


Name (Optional Or First Name Only)_____________________________

Age_______________ Place Of Birth________________________

Years Living in SF_____________ Zipcode____________


Marital Status_______________ Living With Partner?_______________

Who Do You Live With (parents, friends, relatives, etc,)?______________

Do You Have Children?_______ How Many?_______________________

What is Your Approximate Yearly Household Income (Optional):

under $10,000_______

$11,000 to 2,0000_______

$21,000 to 30,000_______

$31,000 to 40,000_______

$41,000 to 60,000_______

over $60,000_________










Introduction to the Interview

My name is Jennifer Price and my colleagues and I have been asked by the Commission on the Status of Women to conduct a study on services for women who have experienced violence. We are speaking to women to understand what are the current needs for services and what are the barriers or gaps in existing services. A goal of this project is to identify populations of women whose voices may not be heard. We are thankful for your willingness to talk with us.

We wanted to tape record the interview so we will be able to remember what was said. The tape will only be heard by myself and will be destroyed after I have written up my notes. Rest assured that we will keep anything you say strictly confidential and your name will not appear in any of our reports. Would it be okay to use the tape recorder?

The interview will take about an hour. If there are any questions that you feel uncomfortable answering, just let me know and we will move on. Do you have any questions before we begin?


1. You don't have to tell me your address, but could you tell me which zip code you live in?

2. How long have you lived in San Francisco (or the Bay Area)?

3. How old are you?

4. Do you have children? (sex and age)

5. What type of work do you do? Can you describe your work?

6. Are you currently in a relationship? Can you tell me about it? (living together, supportive, with the perpetrator, knows about past experiences with violence)


I would like to switch gears a bit and ask some questions about the violence you experienced. Would that be okay?

7. So you've experienced violence at some point? Could you tell me a little about that?

8. How did you feel?


9. Did you talk to anyone about what was going on (had happened)? Who was it and what was the response?

10. Was their response helpful? What kind of support would you have wanted from them?

11. Did you talk or think about talking about it to anyone else? (probe further for other responses)

12. What types of services would be (or have been) helpful for you as an XYZ woman experiencing violence?

13. What should service providers take into account when working with XYZ women experiencing violence? (ethnicity, culture, sexuality affecting experiencing)


14. What has helped you to heal from this experience? What would help you to heal?

15. There has been a move to offer prevention services such as anger management and self-defense training. What do you think of these efforts? Would they be helpful?


16. Have you seen this poster (show model)?

17. What do you think of it?


18. Is there anything else you think is important that I didn't ask about?

19. We are planning to conduct a large-scale survey. In order to be able to address the concerns of other women in the community, we want to be able to reach these women. Can you recommend certain locations, times of day, days of the week that might be more successful?

20. If you know of any other women who would be willing to talk with me, could you please call me at this number collect.







Key Informant Name:




1. Are women in this group at high risk for violence or abuse?

2. What type of violence do you hear about the most within this community?

a. Who do the women most commonly report as the perpetrator?

3. How are these types of violence viewed in this community? (explore acceptance, denial, disapproval?, etc.)


1. When a woman experiences violence, how might she deal with it?

(Where would she go first for help? What options do they feel they have?)


1. What are the services available to women in this population?

2. What are the barriers to a woman accessing these services?

[PROBE: What services that deal with violence are not particularly helpful?]

[PROBE: Why would a woman hesitate to seek a service?]

3. Are there specific services that would be helpful for women in this population?

4. What do service providers need to take into account when working with this community?

5. What is the best way to reach women in this community to inform them about prevention and services?


1. If this is a population that we are conducting one-on-one interviews with (Russian, Chinese, Queer) request referrals to possible informants.

2. Inform person of the large scale survey and ask about locations, times of day, days of the week where we may be able to reach women in this population.

3. Is there anything we haven't talked about that you think is important for me to know?








The COSW Needs Assessment Survey was conducted from May to October 2000 using two modes of administration: in-person (pen and paper) and telephone. These modes were chosen to assure a probability sample representative of San Francisco residents. Note that "street corner sampling" is not probability based so results cannot be conclusive, merely suggestive.

The survey instrument, designed by the authors of this report, consisted of a combination of open and closed responses and was translated into Spanish, Chinese, and Russian by native speakers. The survey instrument was pre-tested both in person and over the telephone.

As with any survey or interview, disclosures depended on how comfortable and safe the participants felt to respond to the very sensitive questions posed. Despite the availability of translated surveys, language barriers could have prevented certain individuals from participating in the survey, as could issues of literacy. Respondents to the pen and paper surveys were recruited from community-based agencies serving particular communities and/or women who have experienced violence. Agencies were chosen to reflect the ethnic diversity and various geographic regions of San Francisco, as well as willingness to participate in the survey. During agency recruitment of respondents, steps were taken to maintain probability within the sample. However, it should be noted that the sample may have self-selected for women who are predisposed to seek services. Of the pen and paper surveys returned, 6% were thrown out because of missing data or for not meeting the study's eligibility criteria. The final response rate was 35%.

The telephone survey was conducted by female interviewers at San Francisco State's Public Research Institute (PRI), under the direction of Diane Godard. The telephone sample frame was drawn by random-digit dialing (RDD) of listed and unlisted residential telephone numbers in San Francisco City and County numbers (approximately 70% of all San Francisco residential numbers are unlisted). This list of telephone numbers was stratified into four regions of the city and a sample was drawn from each in proportion to the region's population. To increase response rates from Asian, African American, Russian and Latina women, the sample was supplemented with both additional RDD samples from targeted areas of the city and listed telephone numbers of persons with Hispanic, Asian and Russian surnames.

These random-digit numbers were called by PRI interviewers from their central telephone facility, where non-working, nonresidential, fax/modem and cellular numbers were screened out. Once a residential household was reached, an eligible woman in each household was identified. Only adult women were recruited for participation in the Violence Against Women telephone interview. Due to the sensitive nature of the study's content and to ensure respondents optimum privacy, special measures were instituted to screen qualified respondents for participation. Given the unique screening procedures, the 40% response rate achieved for the telephone interviews was relatively high.

Only female interviewers were used and language translation was provided by bilingual/bicultural interviewers for Spanish-speaking, Russian-speaking, and Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin)-speaking respondents.

A total of 151 women were administered the pen and paper survey; 210 women were interviewed over the telephone using a computer-assisted telephone interviewing system. The final total sample was 361. Open-ended responses were transcribed verbatim and then coded into categories by the authors. The data from these surveys were coded, key entered into a database, and then merged.

Data were analyzed using SPSS software. Frequency distributions were generated for all variables, as well as cross tabulations for selected variables. The chi-square statistic was used to test for statistically significant differences between variables (p-value < .05). Any estimates based on five or fewer responses were deemed unreliable and therefore were not tested for statistically significant differences between groups. Because estimates presented in this report generally exclude "don't know," "refused," and other invalid responses, sample and sub-sample sizes (n's) vary across statistical runs. The estimates from this survey, as from any sample survey, are subject to random sampling error.




Services are categorized by those provided by violence-specific agencies and those provided by non-violence specific agencies. We further categorize by type of service. Languages available for each service are also listed, if known. Languages listed, however, may not always be available and sometimes a callback or significant wait is necessary to access a particular language. This list is not comprehensive; we were not able to identify or interview all agencies and programs within San Francisco.

Violence Specific Agencies: Crisis Intervention

Emergency Shelters and Housing:

There are three emergency safe houses or shelters in San Francisco specifically for women who have experienced violence. The locations of emergency safe houses or shelters are secret to protect clients from perpetrators. All have waiting lists. Additionally, other agencies provide emergency housing, but these are not safe houses, meaning their locations are not secret and, therefore, residents may still be at risk.

Riley Center operates Rosalie House, a 20-bed emergency safe house for women and their children for 8 weeks. Spanish and English are spoken. They accept teenage mothers.

La Casa de las Madres is a 35 bed emergency safe house for women and their children for 8 weeks. English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, and Tagalog are spoken. It will accept teenage boys with their mother, large families, women with chemical dependencies, and the mentally disabled.

Asian Women's Shelter is a 16-bed safe house for women and their children. It can provide translators for over 22 languages.

Donaldina Cameron House has temporary emergency housing, a studio apartment, at one location that is not a "safe house." They also have a special arrangement to place women at a second location, a residential hotel.

W.O.M.A.N., Inc. also provides vouchers to local motels, which are not "safe houses," for emergency housing.

Crisis Lines:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a 24-hour line for counseling, crisis intervention, information, and referral to local agencies. It has multiple language capabilities.

W.O.M.A.N., Inc. operates the only local 24-hour domestic violence crisis line in the Bay Area. English, Spanish, and 22 Asian languages are available through collaboration with the Asian Women's Shelter. They take over for other domestic violence hotlines during the weekends and evenings.

Riley Center operates a crisis line in English and Spanish. Its line is taken over by W.O.M.A.N., Inc. on evenings and weekends.

La Casa de las Madres has a crisis line for teens and adults in English and Spanish. W.O.M.A.N., Inc. answers its line on evenings and weekends.

TALK-Line is a 24-hour hot line that deals with parental stress and child abuse. It focuses on "preventative medicine" by providing an outlet for parents to air their frustrations and to find alternatives to abuse.

San Francisco Rape Treatment Center operates a 24-hour crisis line for survivors of sexual assault.

Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse Resource Center (CASARC) runs a 24 hour crisis line for survivors of sexual abuse, incest, statutory rape, and other sexual assaults who are under 18 years of age. English, Spanish, and Cantonese are spoken.

San Francisco Women against Rape (SFWAR) has a 24-hour crisis line for survivors of sexual assault including sexual harassment, incest, child sexual assault, same-sex sexual assault, domestic violence, ritual abuse, stalking, male survivors, and suicide prevention. English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Arabic, Farsi, Tamil, Krio, and French are available.

Community United Against Violence (CUAV) operates a 24-hour crisis line for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals experiencing any type of violence. English, Spanish, Japanese, and Tagalog are available.

Shalom Bayit Jewish Women's Task Force on Domestic Violence operates a crisis line for survivors of domestic violence.

Teen Crisis Line is a 9 to 5 crisis line for youth dealing with abusive situations. It is operated by the Riley Center. After hours, the line is taken over by W.O.M.A.N., Inc. English and Spanish are available.

Men's Hotline is a 24-hour crisis line for batterer intervention counseling operated by ManAlive. English and Spanish are available.

Crisis Medical Services:

San Francisco Rape Treatment Center provides 24-hour medical treatment and exams including evidence collection for survivors of sexual assault. English, Spanish, and Chinese are available and they have access to San Francisco General Hospital interpreters.

CASARC has medical treatment, exams, and evidence collection available 24-hours for sexual assault survivors under 18 years of age. English, Spanish, and Cantonese are spoken.

Crisis Psychological Services:

San Francisco Rape Treatment Center offers 24-hour rape crisis intervention and short term counseling for sexual assault survivors.

CASARC offers 24-hour rape crisis intervention and short term counseling for sexual assault survivors under 18 years old.

The Traumatic Stress Unit of San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) provides services for any adult who has experienced or witnessed violence. Services include individual, group, short and long term counseling, bedside assessment, referral to other assistance and home visits. Clinicians speak Spanish, English, Russian, Bulgarian, and Tagalog and interpreters are available.


SFWAR accompanies survivors of rape and sexual assault to San Francisco General Hospital's Emergency Room for evidence collection and/or medical treatment. Medical advocates work in conjunction with Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners to create a safe and supportive atmosphere for survivors during the medical/forensic exam.

Violence Specific Agencies: Non-Crisis Intervention

Transitional Shelters:

Brennan House, operated by Riley Center, is a one-year transitional housing facility with 30 beds for women, their children, and emancipated minors.

Mary Elizabeth Inn provides transitional housing for women leaving emergency shelter. It offers counseling and provides services in English and Japanese.

Legal Services:

Bay Area Legal Aid (formerly the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation) is a non-profit law office, which assists domestic violence clients in family law. It has English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog capabilities.

Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic (CROC), run by Bay Area Legal Aid, assists women in obtaining orders of protection.

W.O.M.A.N., Inc. screens and schedules clients for evening legal clinics through their 24-hour crisis line,provides guidance with self-representation in court and follow-up of police responses, and provides information on legal rights and the criminal justice system.

Donaldina Cameron House provides legal assistance for issues such as restraining orders, child custody, child support, immigration, and divorce for battered Asian immigrants in partnership with Nihonmachi Legal Outreach (NLO).

Nihonmachi Legal Outreach (NLO) serves Asian and Pacific Islander communities and provides legal and educational services in the areas of sexual harassment, domestic violence, date rape, and elder abuse. It also provides assistance and education programs on immigration and naturalization and other aspects of family law. Several Asian and Pacific Islander languages are offered.

Community Defenders of the Bayview Hunter's Point Foundation provides legal and ancillary services including representation in the criminal justice system.

Domestic Violence Legal Services provides pro bono legal services to survivors of domestic violence.

Equal Rights Advocates provides legal assistance, referrals, advocacy, and counseling for women with sexual harassment claims. They also have an advice and counseling hotline for practical advice, counsel, and public education. They work with youth. They use the AT&T Language Line enabling them to have a translator available in over 150 languages.

Legal Services for Children, Inc. is a free, comprehensive law office for children and youth, up to 17 years of age, providing legal and social services. Services include restraining orders, victim support, emancipation, guardianship, mental health issues, child abuse, school discipline, special education, and delinquency.

Legal Services for Youth provides free legal assistance for youth including restraining orders, victim support, custody, paternity, and emancipation. Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog are spoken.

Divorce Center of San Francisco offers low cost legal and paralegal help for family law and domestic violence cases including referrals, document preparation, and restraining orders. English and Spanish are spoken.

Legal Assistance to the Elderly provides free legal advice and representation to San Francisco residents over 60 years of age. It assists in avoiding financial and physical abuse.

Legal Aid Society/Employment Law Center's Domestic Violence and Employment Project has a toll free hotline, individual counseling, advocacy, training, and public education about employment issues affecting victims of domestic violence.

San Francisco's District Attorney Family Violence Project provides free, confidential legal counseling and domestic violence advocacy to all victims of domestic violence regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or immigration status. Services include follow-up contact with survivors; assistance with victims of crimes compensation claims; orientation to the criminal justice system; case status and disposition information; notification of family, friend, employer or creditor; calculating losses from crime; and assisting in reclaiming property from police or prosecutor.

Medical Services:

San Francisco Rape Treatment Center offers medical counseling for STD testing, HIV testing, and pregnancy testing for survivors of sexual assault.

CASARC conducts interviews in cases of suspected child sexual abuse.

SAGE, a grassroots organization for women victimized by or at risk of sexual exploitation, violence and prostitution, provides holistic and traditional healthcare services.

Psychological Services:

W.O.M.A.N., Inc. offers group and individual counseling in English, Spanish, Hindi, Farsi, and Punjabi. Drop-in support and evening support groups are available. Free childcare is available. Also offers woman-to-woman violence counseling.

Casa de las Madres offers drop-in and on-going counseling in English and Spanish. Support groups are offered to teens and in jails, clinics, and mental health facilities.

Asian Women's Shelter offers counseling and support groups with special services directed to LBT women.

The Riley Center provides peer counseling and support groups in English and Spanish.

Chinatown Youth Center provides individual, group, and family counseling for at-risk youth and their families in Asian communities. Interpretation in Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog is offered.

The Rape Prevention Education Program of the UCSF Center for Gender Equity offers support groups for survivors.

The San Francisco Network for Battered Lesbian and Bisexual Women offers a support group for lesbian and bisexual women who are survivors of same-sex domestic violence.

Glide Memorial's Survivors of Abuse, Incest, and Violence (SAIV) offers a support group for women.

PROMISE offers support groups to survivors of prostitution, which are facilitated by peer counselors.

SAGE provides gender specific mental health services for mental and physical trauma, peer support groups, and satellite sexual trauma counseling.

Donaldina Cameron House provides individual and family counseling for Asian immigrants.

San Francisco Rape Treatment Center offers individual, group, and family counseling for survivors of sexual assault.

CUAV has short-term counseling and support groups for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, police brutality, and hate crimes.

SFWAR provides 8 to 10 weeks peer counseling groups to women survivors of adult sexual assault, including survivors of same-sex sexual assault.

The Traumatic Stress Unit of SFGH provides individual, group, short and long-term counseling.

The Women of Courage Project, sponsored by Lyon-Martin Women's Health Services, offers support groups for female survivors of childhood abuse.

The Center for Special Problems provides counseling for survivors of domestic violence and spousal abuse, support groups for incest survivors, and counseling for batterers including female batterers.

Bayview Hunter's Point Foundation's Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) provides mental health counseling and grief counseling for individuals under 24 years of age and their families who are experiencing emotional stress or trauma due to violence.

UCSF/Mt. Zion Violence Prevention Project offers counseling to families with children under 18 years of age that are affected by violence.

Morris Center provides low-cost, long-term recovery counseling for adult survivors of physical, sexual, or emotional child abuse.

MOVE offers group and individual counseling and weekly support groups for men identified as abusive. They also work with 12 to 20 year old males who have been violent with their intimate partners or family members.

Vocational Counseling/Job Training

La Casa de las Madres works with the Job Shop to provide resume building and interviewing-skills workshops and with Arriba Juntos to provide job training.

Riley Center provides employment counseling.

Donaldina Cameron House provides employment assistance and job development.

Arriba Juntos provides job training and other employment services to immigrant women and women of color at risk of homelessness.

SAGE provides mentoring and job placement for women victimized or at risk of sexual exploitation.


W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has advocates working with the San Francisco Police and Sheriff's departments.

Donaldina Cameron House has multilingual children's advocates.

SFWAR has legal advocates to support survivors who file a police report or seek a restraining order.

PROMISE has domestic violence advocacy services from women in prostitution.

Chinatown Youth Center has a crisis unit, which assists at-risk youths and their families in obtaining services such as education, legal help, and substance abuse counseling.

CASARC provides accompaniment to court services for children and adolescent survivors of sexual assault.

California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) is a statewide coalition supporting women prisoners. It advocates for women who have experienced sexual assault by guards and for women imprisoned for defending themselves against their abusers.

CUAV provides advocacy through the court system for GLBT survivors of violence.

District Attorney Family Violence Project provides support through the duration of the criminal court case, including accompaniment to court hearings.

Victims/Witness Assistance Program, administered by the District Attorney's Office, advocates for women who have experienced violence by providing support through the criminal justice system and assistance in filing for compensation from the State Board of Control's Victims of Crime Program.


All VAW agencies provide information and referrals to other agencies and services for clients who have additional needs or needs the agency cannot meet. Some agencies have more extensive and up-to-date referral lists than others. W.O.M.A.N., Inc., for example, updates its referral list quarterly. In addition to agencies already mentioned, these agencies offer referral and information:

Domestic Violence Response Unit of the San Francisco Police Department provides referrals to shelter, restraining order services, and other police protection services.

San Francisco Child Abuse Council provides education, training, consultation, information, and referral services.

The Community Outreach and Advocacy Program of the Mission Police Station provides information about the legal options available to survivors of domestic violence.

Family Violence Prevention Fund provides information, referral and technical support to end domestic violence.

Shalom Bayit Jewish Women's Task Force on Domestic Violence is a liaison between the domestic violence service community and the Jewish community. It refers women to shelters and services. It provides technical assistance to agencies to help them serve the needs of Jewish clients.

Technical Assistance:

The majority of VAW agencies provide technical assistance to other agencies, community based organizations, police, health care providers, schools, and other interested institutions and organizations on violence prevention and intervention.

Family Violence Prevention Fund's National Health Initiative on Domestic Violence trains health care providers throughout the nation to recognize signs of abuse and to intervene effectively to help battered women.

Bay Area Legal Aid provides technical assistance to other providers (police, judges, doctors), professional groups and agencies (foster care agencies, juvenile probation officers, mediators), and domestic violence advocates about immigration relief, violence in GLBT communities, and the overlap between domestic violence and welfare.

Violence Specific Agencies: Prevention

Self Defense:

SFWAR offers free self-defense classes with on-site childcare throughout San Francisco. They target immigrants, women of color, women with disabilities, and teens.

Women's Safety Project teaches physical defenses against sexual assault, verbal responses to harassment, and effective ways to set limits and de-escalate tense situations to women. It offers discounted rates on workshops to non-profit organizations serving low-income women.

Girls Take Charge, a program of the Women's Safety Project, provides three years of after school self-defense instruction and information on accessing resources to middle and high school aged girls at three community locations (Visitacion Valley, Sunset, and Richmond).

Defending Ourselves School of Self Defense offers comprehensive training in safety awareness, verbal assertiveness, and physical techniques to respond to violence for women, young women, and mothers and daughters together. This is a for-profit organization, but it offers special programs for low-income women.

Crime Prevention Solutions teaches streetwise self defense with a focus on understanding the power dynamics in an assault and training students to gain control of a bad situation. Students learn verbal assertiveness, psychological responses, and physical techniques through role-plays. It has a date rape prevention program for junior and senior high school boys and girls. This is a for-profit organization, but it offers special programs for low-income women.

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Violence Specific Agencies: Crisis Interventii>

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Violence Specific Agencies: Non-Crisis Intervention

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Violence Specific Agencies: Prevention


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