YWCA Sonoma County

History YWCA Sonoma County

YWCA Sonoma County was founded in 1975 by a group of local women who volunteered their own homes as an underground network of safe houses until a permanent domestic violence intervention and treatment residence was established. The following year they created the YWCA Safe House, a confidential emergency residence providing food, clothing and shelter with domestic violence treatment and intervention services.

We were among the first fifteen sanctuaries for survivors of domestic violence in the United States, and are recognized today as a model facility for best practices by the United States Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, the State of California's Maternal Child and Adolescent Health Branch, the California Health and Human Services Agency, and by SuccessWorks, an independent consulting agency based in Melbourne, Australia, specializing in human and health services program development, evaluation, and strategic implementation.

Two years later the YWCA Child Care Services Program was established to provide services to children at risk due to exposure to domestic violence and child abuse. A Special Place continues to provide the only therapeutic preschool in Sonoma County, serving children effected by the traumas of early exposure to domestic violence in the home. Studies have shown that early intervention and treatment can be highly effective in helping children return to normal developmental progress. Otherwise the long term results of growing up in a home where they do not feel safe can be devastating to a child's growth both physically in terms of brain function, and also emotionally. A Special Place gives these kids a nurturing environment where they can begin to recover and learn to create positive relationships In 1999 our services expanded to include intervention and treatment services at the Safe House and in the community for adult and child survivors of rape and sexual assault.

Today the YWCA Sonoma County's Domestic Violence Services Program provides on site services in Santa Rosa through our Safe House, A Special Place Preschool and at the Family Justice Center.  Through our 24-hour crisis hotline we are able to serve these survivors by offering crisis intervention, advocacy, counseling, and legal advice as well as referrals to resources in the community. The YWCA Sonoma County and the Ukrainian American Women Action Project (UAWAP) merged in 2001 after several years of collaboration. The UAWAP was founded 1995 by Catherine Held and Ellen Masland Salyer to assist the Cherkasy (Ukraine) Women's Center in its efforts to establish women's leadership development training and violence intervention and prevention programs for the oblast (county). Because Cherkasy is the Sister City to Santa Rosa the relationship with the Santa Rosa based YWCA proved a natural fit for collaborative exchanges Our services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault have since expanded to include support groups, therapeutic and legal services, family advocacy, community education and professional development training. Through our Outreach program we are able to serve men, women and children in our community who are struggling with the difficult issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, assisting them in creating lives free from violence. The Safe House still serves as the core of the YWCA Sonoma County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services Program, offering safe haven for women and children with supportive services aimed towards healing and recovery. The Adobe Program extends these supportive services for an additional two years for families in transition, helping them to establish their own homes and become self sufficient and productive members of the community.