Women Against Abuse, Inc. began in the mid-1970s as a part-time hotline in a women’s center, and has grown to become one of the leading advocates and service providers for victims of domestic violence.
1976: Women Against Abuse, Inc. is founded as a part-time domestic violence hotline in a neighborhood women’s center. Based on the needs expressed by hotline callers, the agency works to create an emergency shelter for victims and their children.
1977: Women Against Abuse opens the emergency shelter in a small rented house which accommodates eight to ten families. Later that year, Women Against Abuse launches a legal counseling program offering victims one-on-one support, information and assistance in both civil and criminal cases.
1979: Women Against Abuse begins to build community support, and grows from a staff of six to 26 members. The Emergency Shelter relocates to a larger facility donated by the City of Philadelphia, with space for up to 46 women and children at a time.
1980: The agency establishes support programs at the Emergency Shelter to empower residents to live independently.
1987: Women Against Abuse opens Sojourner House, the region’s first transitional housing program for domestic abuse survivors and their children. It provides apartments to 12 families at a time, for up to two years as they transition to independent living.
1988–1999: Women Against Abuse continually enhances both the quality and accessibility of its programs and services to best meet the changing needs of clients. New initiatives include the establishment of an Education and Training Department to provide community education and awareness to domestic violence; summer and after school programs for children residing at the Emergency Shelter and Sojourner House; and legal support for victims of domestic violence who are immigrants.
2000: Women Against Abuse creates a computer lab and a medical advocacy project for women and children residing at the Emergency Shelter. Women Against Abuse also launches a Disability Legal Service Project to meet the needs of victims with physical and emotional handicaps.
2005: Women Against Abuse leads a partnership with the City of Philadelphia and fellow domestic violence service providers to create the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline – a city-wide 24-hour free point of access for crisis intervention, resources and in-take to the Emergency Shelter.
2006: Women Against Abuse launches its STAR Program (Students Talking About Relationships) to address increasing cases of violence in teen relationships. STAR takes place in local high school and middle schools in Philadelphia.
2007: Women Against Abuse relocates its Emergency Shelter and expands to accommodate 100 women and children at a time.
2008: Women Against Abuse launches on-site behavioral health services at the Emergency Shelter to empower victims to manage the symptoms of the trauma they have experienced. Therapists provide services to both adult and child residents.
2009: Women Against Abuse provides the Philadelphia Police Department, 9-1-1 operators and other first responders with training on the dynamics of domestic violence.
2010: Women Against Abuse launches the Telephone Outreach Project (TOP) which provides follow-up assistance to high-risk victims of domestic violence after a 911 incident. Our Telephone Outreach Counselor is able to immediately provide safety planning, connect victims with appropriate social and legal services, and provide support to assist victims through the civil and criminal legal systems.
2011: Women Against Abuse leads a partnership with Project H.O.M.E. and six other nonprofits to provide integrated behavioral health services at St. Elizabeth’s Wellness Center in a low-income neighborhood that experiences domestic violence at a level twice the city average.
2013: Women Against Abuse completes a $3 million renovation and expansion project for Sojourner House - its transitional housing program - which included gut rehabilitation of the 100-year-old buildings and the construction of a new building that increased housing capacity by 25%.
2013: Women Against Abuse secures funding to provide up to 45 households with temporary rental assistance and subsidized housing so that they can transition into safe communities.
2014: Women Against Abuse opens a second 100-bed emergency safe haven, effectively doubling Philadelphia's domestic violence shelter bed capacity.
2015: Women Against Abuse pioneers a city-wide systems change effort to coordinate Philadelphia's response to domestic violence. This initiative will grow to become Shared Safety.
2017: Women Against Abuse becomes the first Philadelphia nonprofit to receive the international Barry and Marie Lipman Family Prize from the Univestity of Pennsylvania for its vision and leadership in pioneering Shared Safety.
2019: Women Against Abuse begins welcoming survivors of all gender identities to its emergency safe havens, opening the way for survivors who identify as men, trans or are non-gender conforming to find refuge.