We, the people of Verity, working in cooperation with the community, strive to eliminate all forms of violence, with a special focus on sexual assault and abuse. Sexual assault is an unacceptable form of oppression, which is destructive to the lives of the survivors, their families, and their friends. Verity facilitates healing and promotes the prevention of violence by providing counseling, advocacy, intervention, and education in our community.
We support social justice and equality for all adults and children who have been sexually assaulted. We are committed to ending sexual violence by working to eliminate the conditions that cause or tolerate it. We realize that the process to end the violence in our communities includes a collaboration of individuals, groups, and organizations. We are an active partner in that effort as a member of the community.
Verity was founded in 1974 as Women Against Rape, a grassroots organization for those traumatized by the rape of women. The agency included a phone number that women and survivors of assault could call for emotional support. Our crisis line is still the only one of its kind in Sonoma County, and it operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Today Verity is managed by a Board of Directors numbering up to 12, with daily activities performed by a paid staff of 14 and over 60 volunteers.
In the past 40 years, the organization has undergone many changes to be able to provide more services for the people of our community. Our staff and volunteers all complete extensive trainings, learn specific ways to help victims, which include not only women and girls, but survivors of all genders, and the families of victims. They learn about the devastating effects of rape trauma syndrome, the positive or negative impacts of law enforcement and court procedures, both physical and mental health issues, and all the resources available in our community. This is just a part of the training and information of each of our staff members and volunteers receive on an ongoing basis. These individuals give their time to answer the crisis line, and are also available to come with the victims and their families when asked. This can be for any number of reasons: to make the police report, to make a court appearance and testimony, to have a medical exam at the hospital, or to receive any legal support that could be needed.
The Verity timeline stretches through our history:
For the past 43 years, the organization has evolved past mainly being a crisis line. We have expanded our services to include three priority areas of development: education/prevention, counseling, and crisis intervention. Verity staff and volunteers complete extensive training, learning the specific skills that provide help and support for more adults, elders, children, and youth whose lives have been affected by rape and sexual violence. Today Verity is managed by a Board of Directors composed exclusively for the community volunteers, while work and daily activities are carried out by 20 paid employees and more than 60 volunteers.
- 2014: Celebrated 40 years of service to Sonoma County
- 2013: Began offering services for women veterans and active-duty members of the military through a grant from Swords to Plowshares.
- 2013: Provided alternative healing classes free of charge to the community through a grant from the Wine Country Weekend
- 2013: Received a grant for collaborative project with YWCA and the Sonoma County Health Department to create and implement our training programs “Coaching Boys Into Men” for local schools and sports teams.
- 2013: Started providing free survivors support group for Spanish-speaking people and at Sonoma in La Luz.
- 2012: Received support in Guerneville for expanded outreach. Thank you to the West County community services for this opportunity!
- 2010: Launched Verity at www.ourverity.org to reflect not only the new image, but the influence of the work of Verity on the Sonoma County community.
- 2010: Introduced Verity and its rebranding at the first annual Cupcake Ball, held on November 6, 2010.
- 2010: Formalized a partnership with the Family Justice Center of Sonoma County, resulting in the hiring of a sexual assault advocate to cooperate with other partners of the Family Justice Center community.
- 2009: Began the development of a two-year strategic plan to focus on increasing outreach in Sonoma County, including the new name and logo.
- 2009: Expanded our Spanish services with the development of the Sonoma Valley project, serving El Verano, Boyes Hot Springs and Agua Caliente. The program is designed for teenagers and their parents who live and work in the area of Sonoma Valley.
- 2009: UASA became official partners with the Family Justice Center of Sonoma County, allowing UASA to work with a partnership of agencies including community-based organizations, law enforcement, the District Attorney, and the medical staff to create one stop service for those who have been victims of violence and sexual assault.
- 2009: UASA was one of five community-based organizations under the umbrella of Sonoma County probation, who was awarded the National Association of Counties 2009 Achievement Award for the Girls Circle support group. Starting in 1970, annual program achievement award is a non-competitive award program recognizes innovative county government programs.
- 2009: A review of all of the services for youth and children was provided through UASA’s Department of Prevention to reflect the increase in the diversity of culture and language of the students attending schools in Sonoma County.
- 2008: UASA extended the scope of the education community through collaborative partnerships with the city of Santa Rosa to identify and connect the correlation between violence and gang rape, which led to the effective results with parents, youth, and CBO community at large.
- 2007: Christine Castillo was selected by the UASA Board of Directors to succeed retiring Executive Director Gloria Young.
- 2007: UASA expanded its evidence-based programs, MyStrength and Girls Circle, to cater for juveniles mandated by Sonoma County probation in a coordinated effort to reduce and/or prevent recidivism.
- 2007: UASA developed www.uasasonoma.org/teensite with a user-friendly interface for youth.
- 2006: UASA creates an entire webpage in Spanish to help with focused outreach efforts for the Spanish-speaking community of Sonoma County.
- 2005: UASA was one of only six bodies across the State were selected by the California Coalition Coalition Against Sexual Assault to participate in a campaign focused on the prevention of perpetration of sexual violence by young men. The program “My strength is not for hurting” targeted young men between the ages of 14-18.
- 2004: UASA started offering individual and group counseling services at community locations for a population at high risk of harm. The contract was extended through Sonoma County juvenile probation and the Department of Health Services.
- 2004: Executive Director Gloria Young of UASA was named “Executive Director of the year” by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
- 2004: UASA launched a comprehensive update web page to help victims of rape and abuse and their families learn the facts and gain information for the purpose as additional support and access to services.
- 2003: UASA’s counseling program expanded, with the addition of a clinical supervisory staff and consulting practice that offered a more formalized program of support.
- 2003: UASA was an important force in creating the County’s first SART (Sexual Assault Response Team)program, which united law enforcement, mental health agencies, and legal agencies into a single group dedicated to assisting the victim and her family. SART identifies and outlines a compassionate and thorough protocol for handling victims of violence from the point of first contact. This consolidated all local services, and made them more easily accessible to survivors. This collaborative effort strives to minimize the stress felt by victims, reduce their risk of harm or further abuse, or and prevent them and family members from “falling through the cracks.”
- 2002: UASA encouraged community outreach prevention of violence with the addition of a section on the website in Spanish and English called “Teens Speak Out.” This included a UASA teen peer education training (to teach teens about teen dating violence); a customized program for at-risk youth living in foster homes/groups; a group of teens support; and a program against racism; information to address growing violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender population; information about violations of human rights; and a Spanish-language portion to service Spanish-speaking youth.
- 2001: UASA established an education program for men to work together to promote social change and learn what they can do to actively participate in the elimination of rape.
- 2000: The short term crisis counseling enhanced its services to offer a full range of support.
- 2000: The organization changed its name from Women Against Rape (WAR) to United Against Sexual Assault (UASA) to reflect the current mission of serving women, men, children and adolescents who have been victims of rape and sexual violence.
- 1985: WAR expanded its program to include a teen abuse prevention program (TAPP). This led to development of a consortium of groups against violence, and designed a program against violence against teens that focuses on the issues of incest, abuse, family violence, date rape, myths, victim-blaming, and relationship violence.
- 1980: WAR implemented the first child abuse prevention program (CAPP) in Sonoma County. CAPP teaches and empowers children to protect themselves, seek help for themselves, and help each other. CAPP includes practicing communication skills and rejection, learning to set the boundaries of personal space, and learning which adults they trust in their lives. The program helps children understand what to do if they are made to feel insecure or uncertain by the behavior of others. Our educators, who are mandatory reporters, also spend time with the students to provide a safe space for disclosure can be abused.
- 1974: Women Against Rape (WAR) of Sonoma County was established by a group of dedicated volunteers, students, and professors from Sonoma State University who were concerned about the lack of support for those who have been victims of rape and sexual violence. At the time, the subject was taboo. These courageous individuals forever changed the landscape of our community and opened the first of multiple support systems for people who have been victim of sexual violence, their families, and the whole community of Sonoma County. Originally named Women Against Rape, the agency initially included a phone number that women could call to be able to talk to someone about the rape or sexual assault that they had experienced to gain support and insight on how to find the agency to move forward in their lives.