Founded in 1973 as a 20-hour per week rape crisis hotline, San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR) has survived its “crawling” years and proven capable of developing and delivering innovative crisis intervention services and social change programs for survivors of sexual assault and their communities.
During the early 80’s, SFWAR expanded its services to include a 24-hour hotline and in-person counseling and support groups. From 1986-1989 with an annual budget of $60K and 3 part-time staff, SFWAR sponsored the well-attended annual Take Back the Night March and established itself as the most comprehensive feminist environment rape crisis center in San Francisco.
In 1991, due to its growing reputation as an organization whose mission and vision are models of empowerment and self-determination, SFWAR was invited to join the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women’s Domestic Violence Committee. By 1992, assisted with a grant from the Office of Criminal Justice Planning, SFWAR began its rape prevention education program and produced its first teen video and published our first Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese language brochures. In 1997, SFWAR established its medical and legal advocacy program and by 1998 SFWAR had become a member of the City of San Francisco’s Adult Sexual Task Force. In June 2002, SFWAR was elected as a Co-chair of the task force.
In 1994 SFWAR made a commitment to multiculturalism and inclusion by shifting from centralizing white women in the mainstream feminist movement to centralizing the experiences of women of color. By early 2000, SFWAR completed its transition and became majority women of color comprised and led. SFWAR’s staff, volunteers and board now reflect the diversity of the numerous communities that we serve. In addition, our programs and services are changing to meet the needs of the diverse women and communities in which we work.
In March 2002, several staff, board and volunteer members, attended the “Color of Violence” conference in Chicago sponsored by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence. After the conference, SFWAR began incorporating an expanded understanding of the connections between interpersonal violence (e.g. sexual assault and domestic violence) and state-sanctioned violence (e.g. war and the criminalization of poor people of color) into the work. Also, our education programs began incorporating lessons on global violence, human rights, and rape as a tool of colonial and slave oppression.
SFWAR has evolved to become a significant part of the field of social change practitioners who are integrating cultural competency, anti-violence and anti-oppression political action in an effort to effect truly lasting social change.
“Kate Raphael talks about the Nonprofit Industrial Complex with current and former leaders of San Francisco Women Against Rape. Plus, Sara Jaka explores art and activism with musicians Betsy Rose and Melanie deMore, who will be performing together at an upcoming benefit for Code Pink Women for Peace.” — KPFA.org