WomenSV: Empowering victims of domestic abuse

Courtesy of WomenSV
Ruthven Darlene, above, founded and leads the nonprofit WomenSV. The painting to her left depicts a survivor’s journey. The donated artwork hangs in her office.

•  Mission: WomenSV aims to educate the community, train providers and empower survivors to break the cycle of abuse in middle- to upper-income areas so that every woman and child can exercise their fundamental human right to be free and safe in their own home.

• 2019 update: This year, WomenSV helped approximately 150 survivors, approximately 25% of whom are Los Altos and Los Altos Hills residents.

The organization continues to run a helpline and support group, in addition to providing one-on-one direct client services to survivors of abuse. This year, WomenSV started a second support group, focused on WomenSV “graduates” – survivors who have moved forward and are no longer in an abusive relationship but who still want support as they rebuild their lives.

WomenSV estimates that it gets three to five new survivors reaching out for services every week. More and more businesses and agencies are contacting WomenSV in an effort to become more trauma-informed in dealing with staff, students and patients impacted by domestic violence. With the increased need for client services and rising demand for training, the nonprofit organization has hired an additional domestic violence advocate and continues to recruit more volunteers.

WomenSV focuses heavily on education, which continues to be a key part of its strategy; the organization has given presentations for myriad local agencies, including the Santa Clara Psychological Association, physicians at Valley Medical Center and the Los Altos Police Department.

• Why the Holiday Fund is needed: Although WomenSV benefits from the support of donors such as the Town Crier and the Los Altos City Council, the organization must fundraise to maintain its staff and provide counseling to women and children who need it.

More than 150 supporters attended WomenSV’s latest charity effort, the fourth annual Gilded Cage fundraiser Sept. 26. Attendees included District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Assemblyman Marc Berman and James Gibbons Shapiro, chairman of the Domestic Violence Death Review Team, which WomenSV Executive Director Ruthven Darlene also serves on.


Location: PO Box 3982, Los Altos 94024

Founded: 2012

Annual budget: $250,000

Staff: 3 full-time staff, 30 volunteers


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