Dear Friends of HAWC,

March is Women’s History Month and I want to share with you what it means to HAWC to be a women’s center.

The Houston Area Women’s Center is committed to ending domestic and sexual violence for all. We serve women and men, girls and boys, and those who do not define as either, of all sexual orientations and identities.

Advocates at HAWC, including our board, have looked deeply at the root causes of violence. Based on our decades and decades of service, we have come to understand that those who are marginalized, excluded, oppressed, or disdained as a class of people are far more likely to suffer the extreme impact of domestic and sexual violence. While most of the violence we see at HAWC is against women, we know that gender is not the only factor driving their abuse and that anyone of any gender can be a victim.

Because our services are open to all survivors and because we want to advance a nuanced understanding of the causes of violence and its remedy, the leadership at HAWC considered whether it’s time for a name change. Perhaps after 46 years and our deepened understanding, it’s time to evolve our identity.

But in the end, we decided that being called a women’s center was of incredible value to our organization, the community, and our efforts to end violence. And the reason is rooted in our history.

Ever since HAWC’s founding, our organization has been begging the question, “What does it mean to be a woman and who gets to decide?” Does being a woman mean we have to accept abuse at the hands of our husbands or partners? Does being a woman mean we are to blame for our own sexual assault? Is there something inherently provocative, disturbing, or shameful about our bodies that destins us for subservience or violence? To these questions, our organization and the movement that founded and sustains it have shouted a resounding, “NO! Absolutely not!”

To the question of “Who gets to decide what being a woman means?” Our parents? Our teachers? Our partners? The companies that market to us? The institutions we belong to?” Our answer has been simple, consistent, and unapologetic: Each woman gets to decide for herself!

For HAWC, being a women’s center is to act in the confidence that violence against women as women can and will end only when each woman is free to decide for herself what she wants it to mean to be a woman. It also means that we demonstrate every day how all people of all genders benefit when women are free to live self-determined lives and have the resources to do so.

The 2023 theme for Women’s History Month is Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories. The National Women’s History Alliance says, “The timely theme honors women in every community who have devoted their lives and talents to producing art, pursuing truth, and reflecting the human condition decade after decade.”

Countless women have built, supported, and been served by the Houston Area Women’s Center. This is a month when we celebrate them and center their stories. Thank you to all who listen!

Until it ends,

Join HAWC at our BELIEVE Luncheon

What is #HAWCFutureForward? Learn more about how HAWC is expanding safety and improving access.

Are you ready for a rewarding career empowering survivors of domestic and sexual violence? Join HAWC and #PursueYourPassion! Review open positions and apply today.

There are many ways to make a difference at HAWC, learn more at Get Involved.


Looking for another way to give? When you donate stock,
you may earn 2-3X the tax savings vs. donating in cash.