Rape Myths

Rape Myths
Myths are attitudes and beliefs that are prejudicial, stereotyped, and false, but are widely accepted. Many rape myths exist, but they tend to fall into three categories:
Blaming the victim
• Excusing the perpetrator
• Justifying the rape
Myth #1: The motivating force behind sexual assault is sexual desire.

Fact: Rape has nothing to do with sexual attraction. It is about power and control, humiliation, and degradation. Sexual violence is the avenue used to achieve these goals. One of the oldest victims at the YWCA was a 90-year-old woman and the youngest victim was a 6-month-old baby. The common characteristic between these two victims is vulnerability, Rapists target people they view as vulnerable. Both males and females can be rape victims.
Myth #2: Sexual assaults are perpetrated mostly by strangers outside at night (i.e. parking lot, back alley, behind bushes, or deserted area).
Fact: This is the stereotype of rape and does not describe the typical rape. In 86% of all rapes, the victim knows the offender. A perpetrator can be a boyfriend (57% of all rapes occur in the context of a date), a friend, relative, neighbor, or other acquaintance. Almost half of all rapes (42%) occur in the victim’s own home.
Myth #3: Physioal violence is always involved with a sexual assault. The victim will have bruises on their body if they were really assaulted.

Fact: Most rapes do not involve a high level of physical violence. Psychological strategies (i.e. intimidation, emotional blackmail, pressuring, threats, bribery, lying, and/or manipulation) are the most common techniques used by perpetrators. Most perpetrators will not utilize physical force until psychological strategies have failed. Most victims do not walk away with bruises, cuts, or torn clothing. Victims often do not look “battered.”

Myth #4: During a sexual encounter, a person can become carried away and unable to control his or her actions. Rapists cannot stop themselves once they become aroused.

Fact: Yes, men are capable of stopping. They CAN STOP if they care about or respect the other person.

Myth #5: You can tell simply from another person’s actions or way of dressing that she or he wants to have sex with you.

Fact: You can never assume what someone wants according to his/her appearance. It is an insult to assume that men have no self-control. An attractive person does not compel someone to ‘attack’ him/her. They may be attracted to someone but that does not mean they have to act on it.

Myth #6: Some people ask to be raped or sexually assaulted and are at fault for whatever happens.
Fact: People may make poor judgments but no one ever DESERVES to be a victim of sexual assault. Rape has nothing to do with circumstances or the victim’s reputation and/or appearance.

Myth #7: Women make up accusations of rape against men to get revenge.

Fact: False reporting is less than 2% (no different from other crimes). Rape is tremendously underreported.

Myth #8: Rapists are severely disturbed men.

Fact: Perpetrators may test higher on aggression and their tendency to use violence. Generally, rapists test “normal” on psychological testing.


Introduction to Domestic Violence (PowerPoint Notes)

  • Introduction to Domestic Violence
  • Domestic Violence: Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behaviors carried out by one person in an intimate relationship to maintain power and control over their partner.
    Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.  Violence takes many forms and can happen all the time or once in a while.  Abuse is not an accident.  It does not happen because someone was stressed out, drinking, or using drugs.  Abusers have learned to abuse, using their power to get what they want.  The abuse may be physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological.
  • “Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behaviors, some of which are criminal, that includes but is not limited to physical assaults, sexual assaults, emotional abuse, isolation, economic coercion, threats, stalking and intimidation.  These behaviors are used by the batterer in an effort to control the intimate partner.  The behavior may be directed at others with the effect of controlling the intimate partner.”  Batterer Intervention Standards for the State of Michigan, 4.1 (January 20, 1999).*

    Battering is a choice, it is used by one person in an intimate partner relationship to maintain power and control over their partner.
  • Domestic violence crosses all ethnic, racial, age, national origin, sexual orientation, religious, and socioeconomic lines. Domestic violence can happen to anybody.  In fact, studies suggest that one-fifth to one-third of all women will be physically assaulted by a partner or ex-partner during their lifetime.  In heterosexual relationships, 95 percent of all victims are female; and 95 percent of all perpetrators are male.  In same-sex relationships, domestic violence happens with the same statistical frequency as in heterosexual relationships.

    Women living in poverty experience violence by their partners at higher rates partially because they have fewer options.  (Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence).
  • Domestic Violence Victims (Survivors)
    Anyone can be a victim!  Victims can be any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status.  Although both men and women can be abused, most victims are women.  Children in homes where there is domestic violence are more likely to be abused and/or neglected.  Most children in these homes know about violence.  Even if a child is not physically harmed, they may have emotional and behavioral problems.  NO ONE DESERVES TO BE ABUSED.  THE ONLY PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR ABUSE IS THE ABUSER.
  • Domestic Abusers
    There is no “typical” abuser.  In public, they may appear friendly and loving to their partner and family.  They often only abuse behind closed doors.  They also try to hide the abuse by causing injuries that can be hidden and do not need medical attention.  Abusers often have low self-esteem.  They do not take responsibility for their actions.  They often blame the victim for causing the violence.  In most cases, men abuse female victims.
  • Survivor vs. Victim
    We use the term “survivor” due to our emphasis on empowerment advocacy.  This happens when the advocate offers support, resources, advocacy, information and education.
    This is a way of recognizing strength, courage and survival strategies of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.
    Not all women who have experienced domestic or sexual violence see themselves as “survivors.”  Remember: Domestic violence and sexual assault is something that happens to individuals, it does not define who they are.
    MCADSV New Service Provider Training Manual and Resource Guide (May 2006).
  • We are a ‘movement’ and our work is different than that of traditional social services in that
    –Focus on survivors’ strengths
    –Do not believe we are the “experts”
    –Are survivor-driven not service-driven
    –Understand that violence could happen to any of us
    –Are non-directive in our approach to working with survivors
    Instead of viewing victims/survivors as “sick” or pathological, we believe that survivors are simply reacting in adaptive ways to oppressive societal conditions, restrictive sex roles, and the abusive
    intimate partners in their lives.
  • Power and Control Violence can be both Physical & Sexual
    •Emotional abuse
    •Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming
    •Using Children
    •Economic Abuse
    •Male Privilege
    •Coercion & Threats
  • Using intimidation: making her afraid by using looks, actions, gestures, smashing things, destroying her property, abusing pets, displaying weapons.Using emotional abuse: putting her down, making her feel bad about herself, calling her names, making her think she’s crazy, playing mind games, humiliating her, making her feel guilty.Using isolation: controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, where she goes, limiting her outside involvement, using jealousy to justify actions.

    Minimizing, denying, and blaming: making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously, saying the abuse didn’t happen, shifting responsibility for abusive behavior, saying she caused it.

    Using children: making her feel guilty about the children, using the children to relay messages, using visitation to harass her, threatening to take children away.

    Using male privilege: treating her like a servant, making all the big decisions, acting like the “master of the castle”, being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.

    Using economic abuse: preventing her from getting or keeping a job, making her ask for money, giving her an allowance, taking her money, not letting her know about or have access to family income.

    Using coercion and threats: making and/or carrying out threats to hurt her, threatening to leave her, to commit suicide, to report her to welfare, making her drop charges, making her do illegal things.

  • Why Women Stay
    The Barriers to Leaving
    One of the most frustrating things for people outside a battering relationship is trying to understand why a woman doesn’t just leave.  The most important thing to keep in mind is that extreme emotional abuse is always present in domestic violence situations.  On average, an abused woman will leave her partner 6-8 times.  The reasons they return or stay in the relationship vary from case to case.  Some of these include:
  • Situational Factors
    Economic dependence.  How can she support herself and the children?
    Fear of greater physical danger to herself and her children if they try to leave.
    Fear of being hunted down and suffering a worse beating than before.
    Survival.  Fear that her partner will follow her and kill her if she leaves, often based on real threats by her partner.
    Fear of emotional damage to the children.
    Fear of losing custody of the children, often based on her partner’s remarks.
    Lack of alternative housing; she has nowhere else to go.
    Lack of job skills; she might not be able to get a job.
    Social Isolation resulting in lack of support from family and friends.
    Social Isolation resulting in lack of information about her alternatives.
    Lack of Understanding from family, friends, police, ministers, etc.

    Negative Responses from community, police, courts, social workers, etc.

    Fear of involvement in the court process; she may have had bad experiences before
    Fear of the unknown.  “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”
    Fear of ambivalence over making formidable life changes.
    •“Acceptable Violence.”  The violence escalates slowly over time.  Living with constant abuse numbs the victim so that she is unable to recognize that she is involved in a set pattern of abuse.
    Ties to the Community.  The children would have to leave their school; she would have to leave all her friends and neighbors behind, etc.  For some women it would be like being in the Witness Protection program-she could never have any contact with her old life.
    Ties to her home and belongings.
    Family Pressure; because Mom always said, “I told you it wouldn’t work out” or “You made your bed, now sleep in it.”
    Fear of her abuser doing something to get her (report her to welfare, call her workplace, etc.).
    Time needed to plan and prepare to leave.
  • Emotional Factors
    Insecurity about being alone, on her own; she’s afraid she can’t cope with home and children by herself.
    Loyalty. “He’s sick; if he had a broken leg or cancer-I would stay.  This is no different.”
    Pity. He’s worse off than she is; she feels sorry for him.
    Wanting to help. “If I stay I can help him get better.”
    Fear that he will commit suicide if she leaves (often he’s told her this).
    Denial.  “It’s really not that bad.  Other people have it worse.”
    Love. Often, the abuser is quite loving and lovable when he is not being abusive.
    Love, especially during the “honeymoon” stage; she remembers what he used to be like.
    Guilt. She believes-and her partner and the other significant others are quick to agree-that their problems are her fault.
    Shame and Humiliation in front of the community.  “I don’t want anyone else to know.”
    Unfounded Optimism that things will get better, despite all evidence to the contrary
    •Learned Helplessness. Trying every possible method to change something in our environment, but with no success, so that we eventually expect to fail. Feeling helpless is a war, people taken hostage, people living in poverty who cannot get work, etc.
    •False Hope. “He’s starting to do things I’ve been asking for.” (counseling, anger management, things she sees as a chance of improvement).
    •Guilt. She believes that the violence is caused through some inadequacy of her own (she is often told this); feels as though she deserves it for failing.
    •Responsibility. She feels as though she only needs to meet some set of vague expectations in order to earn the abuser’s approval.
    •Insecurity over her potential independence and lack of emotional support.
    •Guilt about the failure of the marriage/relationship.
    •Demolished Self-Esteem. “I thought I was too (fat, stupid, ugly, whatever he’s been calling her) to leave.
    •Lack of emotional support-she feels like she’s doing this on her own and it’s just too much.
    •Simple Exhaustion. She’s just too tired and worn out from the abuse to leave.
  • Personal Beliefs
    Parenting, needing a partner for the kids.  “A crazy father is better than none at all.”
    Religious and Extended Family Pressure to keep the family together no matter what.
    Duty. “I swore to stay married till death do us part.”
    Responsibility. It is up to her to work things out and save the relationship.
    Belief in the American dream of growing up and living happily ever after.
    Identity. Women are raised to feel they need a partner-even an abusive one-in order to be complete or accepted by society.
    Belief that marriage if forever.
    Belief that violence is the way all partners relate (often this woman has come from a violent childhood).
    Religious and Cultural Beliefs.
  • Myths and Facts
    Why do domestic violence perpetrators do what they do?
    Commonly held misconceptions about why batterers batter
    –Alcohol and/or drugs cause the violence
    –Stress causes the violence
    –Uncontrollable anger
    –The batterer witnessed his father abusing his mother
  • Factors that increase the likelihood of male violence against women
    •Ideology of familial patriarchy
    •Male peer support
    •Alcohol consumption/use
    •Exposure to pornographic media
    •Hold rigid sex role stereotypes
  • Why do batterers batter?
    –Because they can
    –Because it gets them what they want (power & control)
    –Opportunity and self-interest
  • We live in a society where:
    –Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. (Population Reports, Series L, No. 11, December 1999).
    –Seventy-eight percent of stalking victims are women.  Women are significantly more likely than men (60% and 30%, respectively) to be stalked by intimate partners.  (Center for Policy Research, Stalking in America, July 1997).
    –Intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women.  In 1999, women accounted for 85 percent of the victims. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim, 1993-99, October 2001).
    –On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day.  In 1999, 1,642 murders were attributed to intimates; 74 percent of the murder victims were women. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim, 1993-99, October 2001).
  • Common characteristics of batterers:

    •Exhibits discrepancy between public and private behavior

    •Uses puzzlement to minimize or confuse survivor about behavior
    •Externalizes by blaming others and using external factors to justify behavior
    •Uses controlling behaviors to get survivor to do, or stop doing, something
    •Feels a strong sense of ownership over the survivor
    •May use controlled substances
    •Is resistant to change
  • Warning Signs
    •History of Violence
    •Substance abuse
    •Breaks or strikes things in anger
    •Controlling Behavior
    •Quick Involvement
    •Unrealistic Expectations
    •Use of Privilege
    •Cruelty to Animals or Children
    •Rape or use of force in sex
    •Blames others for Problems
    •Blames others for Feelings
  • If you have any questions, please contact
    • YWCA of Greater Flint
      310 E. Third St. Flint, Mi 48502
      Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services
    • 810-238-7621

why we are needed

Once upon a time in America, the Woman Suffrage Amendment passed. The Civil Rights Act passed. And the Voting Rights Act passed. The end?


It’s true that women are no longer constitutionally inferior. And people of color are no longer property. But we’re far from living happily ever after.

In spite of widespread reform legislation over the last century, justice is yet to be served. Equality laws may be on the books. But the laws of the land are still distorted when it comes to women and minorities.

Want proof? Then look at education. While women are more likely to earn a high school diploma than men, their education often goes no farther. Only 25% of women 25 or older hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, as opposed to 28.5% of men.

This disparity continues into the workplace. Women and men in the same position make incredibly different salaries. A woman earns 76¢ for every dollar her male counterpart makes. Only 5.5% of women make salaries above $75,000, as compared to 15.8% of men. The difference is even more appalling when it comes to women with only a high school diploma. On average, they earn $18,042. In contrast, even those males who never finished high school make $20,944.

In all, the average woman is shortchanged $420,000 in salary over her working life when compared to the average male. And that doesn’t include benefits like pensions.

So what are we supposed to tell our daughters?

Should we tell them that the workplace is unfair, but that they have advantages elsewhere? We can’t. Consider that one in four women will be involved in domestic violence. Or that one in five emergency room visits by women are caused by battering.

And when should we tell them that they face a one-in-three chance of living in poverty as a female? Or that they’re ten times more likely to have an eating disorder? Or that the odds of them becoming a CEO of a Fortune 1000 company are practically incalculable?

Now consider people of color – regardless of gender.

How are parents supposed to explain to their children why they’re being followed by security in a shopping center simply because of their skin color? Or why some people cross the street to avoid them? Or that only one in every three will meet basic requirements on national scholastic tests?

These are the realities of children of color. And it doesn’t get any better as they get older.

African Americans, for instance, make 66¢ for every dollar made by a white person. And 19% of them live without health care.

Hispanics are half as likely to make salaries over $35,000 than their white equivalents. They’re also three times more likely to live in poverty.

Then there’s profiling. African Americans are much more likely to be pulled over by police than whites. Once stopped, African American and Hispanic drivers are more than twice as likely to have their vehicles searched.

And let’s not forget about prison. People of color make up 64% of the penal population. They make up less than 25% of the general American population. Do the math.

In fact, do the math on any of these statistics. In some cases, it’s frustrating. In others, it’s downright frightening. Either way, it’s wrong. From birth, women and people of color still face obstacles in 2005 that were intended to die with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Obviously, we can’t legislate our way to equality. So what is the answer? Who can promote an agenda of not only tolerance and acceptance, but of advancement and equality? It all comes down to one person.


eliminating racism

1800’s The first Negro YWCA Branch was organized in Dayton, Ohio, in 1889; although Negro branches were separate from white branches, by 1898 the YWCA had seven Negro Student Associations affiliated with it. The YWCA also extended its mission to American Indian young women, founding an Association at Chilocco, Oklahoma, in 1890, work which continued for many years as part of the Student Department of the National Board.

1900-1920’s In 1913 Eva Bowles became the first African American staff member to work as a professionally trained leader to work with Local Associations. In 1915, the YWCA held its first interracial conference in Louisville, KY. In the 1920s the Student YWCA organized its first councils on an interracial basis, adopting the principle of iinclusion for all of the membership in regional councils. In 1924, the National Student Assembly took a program stand on race relationships, “pledging ourselves to seek anew the mind of Jesus in regard to our race relationships and to know students of other races, that we may rid ourselves of prejudices and may promote justice and understanding.”

1930’s In the thirties, the YWCA set its face against lynching and mob violence and supported the struggle for civil rights for African Americans in the United States. The first interracial seminar in the South took place at Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina in 1938. Students called for an investigation into segregation in YWCA associations and community life.

1940’s During World War II, discrimination against Japanese Americans led to thousands being forced from their homes into relocation camps in desolate areas by order of the United States government. Japanese Americans were deprived of their rights as citizens; the YWCA extended its services to the Relocation Centers, and many Associations, including many in the Midwest, opened their facilities to Japanese Americans as they prepared for resettlement.

In 1946 the YWCA reached a watershed in adopting the Interracial Charter at the 17th National Convention. It accepted recommendations that “the implications of the YWCA Purpose be recognized as involving the inclusion of Negro women and girls in the mainstream of Association life, and that such inclusion be adopted as a conscious goal.” In an unequivocal statement of its position on civil rights, the Charter states: “Wherever there is injustice on the basis of race, whether in the community, the nation, or the world, our protest must be clear and our labor for its removal vigorous and steady. And what we urge on others we are constrained to practice ourselves.” Three years later, YWCAs in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Princeton, New Jersey, elected a Black president.

1950’s Between 1950 and 1970, the YWCA remained on the cutting edge in support of the Civil Rights Movement, which culminated in the adoption of the One Imperative. Through the ups and downs of the era, the student YWCAs remained in the vanguard with regard to issues of race and gender. The emphasis immediately post-war was on the spiritual welfare of women and girls, and the provision of social services to them. In May, 1954, the US Supreme Court rules segregationist doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ unconstitutional. This fueled the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama. The YWCA acted to disseminate material on the Supreme Court decision with a booklet, ‘Our Schools, and Our Democracy.’

1960’s In the United States the 1960’s was the decade of the Civil Rights Movement in which African American people made unprecedented strides in affecting social, economic and racial change, and self-empowerment. However, in the YWCA of the U.S.A., the struggle to combat racism had begun early in its history, in the days of “service laced with social action” in the American South. This decade, however, ended with the epoch-making decision in 1970 to adopt the One Imperative, a statement which was rooted in the Christian purpose of the National Association, seeking “to respond to the barrier-breaking love of God in this day’, drawing together women and girls of diverse experiences and faiths, that their lives may be open to new understanding, and deeper relationships and that together they may join in the struggle for peace and justice, freedom and dignity for all people.”

During Dorothy Heights’ tenure, the YWCA, combined with other organizations such as the United Council of Negro Women, Church Women United, the International Council of Jewish Women, and the Catholic Women, to break the law in the South to challenge racial segregation. The YWCA invited activists such as Stokely Carmichael, Whitney Young, and Roy Wilkins to talk to members, and the Office of Racial Justice initiated Dialogue and Action Groups in 1968 in Community and Student YWCAs throughout the country.

1970’s At the YWCA’s April 1970 Convention, it adopted the One Imperative: “To thrust our collective power towards the elimination of racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary.”

Journey of Faith, The History of the World YWCA 1945-1994, by Carolyn Seymour-Jones, Allison & Busby, 1994

our history

Woman Using Machining WheelThroughout our history, the YWCA has been in the forefront of most major movements in the United States as a pioneer in race relations, labor union representation, and the empowerment of women.

The first Association in the U.S., Ladies Christian Association was formed in New York City

The first boarding house for female students, teachers and factory workers opened in New York, NY

“YWCA” was first used in Boston, MA

The YWCA opens the first employment bureau in New York City

The YWCA opens a low cost summer “resort” for employed women in Philadelphia, PA

The first African American YWCA branch opened in Dayton, OH

The first YWCA for Native American women opened in at Haworth Institute, Chilocco, OK

The United States of America, England, Sweden and Norway together created the World YWCA, which today is working in over 125 countries

The YWCA was the first organization to introduce the positive health concept and sex education in all health programming

YWCA of the USA incorporated in New York City

The YWCA was the first industrial federation of clubs to train girls in self- government

The YWCA held the first interracial conference in Louisville, KY

The YWCA was the first organization to send professional workers overseas to provide administrative leadership and support to U.S. Armed Forces

Based on its work with women in industrial plants, the YWCA Convention voted to work for “an eight-hour/day law, prohibition of night work, and the right of labor to organize”

Grace Dodge Hotel completed a Washington, DC residence initially designed to house women war workers

The YWCA encouraged members to speak out against lynching and mob violence, and for interracial cooperation and efforts to protect African American’s basic civil rights

The YWCA extends its services to Japanese American women and girls incarcerated in World War II Relocation Centers

The National Board appears at the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate hearings in support of permanent Fair Employment Practices Committee legislation

Interracial Charter adopted by the 17th National Convention

The National Convention pledges that the YWCA will work for integration and full participation of minority groups in all phases of American life

National Convention commits local Associations and the National Board to review progress towards inclusiveness and decides on “concrete steps” to be taken

The Atlanta, Georgia YWCA cafeteria opened to African Americans, becoming the city’s first integrated public dining facility

The National Board of the YWCA created the Office of Racial Justice to lead the civil rights efforts

The YWCA National Convention, held in Houston, adopted the One Imperative. “To trust our collective power towards the elimination of racism, wherever it exists, by any means necessary”

The YWCA started the ENCORE program for women who have undergone breast cancer surgery

YWCA establishes Fund For The Future

The YWCA National Board urges Congress to support legislation that opposes the South African policy of apartheid

The YWCA National Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism began in response to the beating of Rodney King, an African American, the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers accused of the crime, and the subsequent riots and unrest across the country

The YWCA Week Without Violence was created as a nationwide effort to unite people against violence in communities. The annual observance is held the third week of October

Steps to Absolute Change was adopted. The YWCA shifted from a top down to a bottom up grassroots organization. Local associations joined regions and elected their regional representatives to the National Coordinating Board

Igniting the Collective Power of the YWCA to Eliminate Racism, the YWCA USA’s Summit on Eliminating Racism, was held in Birmingham, AL

The YWCA celebrates its Sesquicentennial Anniversary with the launch of the “Own It” campaign. Focused on igniting a new generation of 22 million young women aged 18 to 34 to get involved with important issues facing women and the country today

significant firsts

With a long and proud her-story, the YWCA has many significant “firsts.”

1858 The country’s first women’s organization forms as “Ladies Christian Association” in New York City.

1860 YWCA opens the first board housing for female students, teachers and factory workers in New York City.

1864 YWCA opens the first U.S. day nursery in Philadelphia.

1866 The first travelers’ aid initiative started in Boston.

1869 YWCA opens the first unwed mothers’ residence in Boston.

1870 YWCA holds first typewriting instruction for women in New York City.

1872 YWCA holds first sewing machine instruction for women and opens the first employment bureau in New York City.

1873 First student YWCA opens in Normal, Illinois.

1874 YWCA opens the first (and only) low-cost summer “resort” for employed women in Philadelphia dedicated by President Ulysses S. Grant.

1889 The first African American YWCA branch opens in Dayton, Ohio.

1890 The first Native American branch opens in Chilocco, Oklahoma.

1891 YWCA opens the first public cafeteria in Kansas City.

1893 First training school for practical nursing opens at YWCA in Brooklyn, New York.

1903 The first home study courses are initiated in Southern cotton mills.

1906 The YWCA is the first organization to introduce “positive health” concept, sex education in all health programming.

1908 The first industrial federation of clubs to train girls in self-government was formed.

1913 First national conference ground for women – 30-acre YWCA Asilomar Conference Grounds opens in Pacific Grove, California designed by architect Julia Morgan.

1915 YWCA holds the first interracial conference in the U.S. in Louisville.

1917 First women’s organization permitted in a U.S. Army camp and the first group to send professionals overseas to provide administrative support for U.S. armed forces in Europe.

1919 The YWCA convenes and finances the first meeting of women doctors.

1922 The first national Assembly of Industrial Women is held in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

1924 The YWCA established the first women’s pension fund.

1930 YWCA holds the first national conference on unemployment in New York City.

1936 YWCA holds the first co-ed, intercollegiate, interracial student conference at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

1942 YWCA extends services to Japanese American women and girls incarcerated in WWII relocation centers.

1946 YWCA Convention adopts Interracial Charter, which commits the YWCA to work for an end to racial injustice and full integration of black women in the mainstream of Association life.

1960 Atlanta YWCA cafeteria opens to African Americans, becoming the city’s first desegrated public dining facility.

1963 YWCA participates in the March on Washington for jobs and freedom.

1965 YWCA sets up the Office for Racial Justice, appointing Dorothy Height as director.

1967 YWCA elects the first African American President, Helen W. Claytor.

1970 The YWCA National Convention, held in Houston, adopted the One Imperative. “To thrust our collective power toward the elimination of racism, wherever it exists, by any means necessary.” The resolution passed and renewed effort went into racial justice work.

1978 YWCA receives the first grant to a voluntary agency by U.S. Department of Commerce, which enables 250 YWCAs in 44 states to form a network publicizing jobs for women in local public works projects.

1988 The YWCA is the first women’s organization invited to join U.S. Olympic Committee, Multi-Sport Division

1989 YWCA leads “pro-choice” demonstration, March for Women’s Equality/Women’s Lives.

1992 YWCA organizes the first National Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism in response to beating of Rodney King and Los Angeles riots.

1992 The YWCA is the first women’s organization chosen by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to launch a partnership to combat breast cancer.

1994 YWCA appoints its first foreign-born Executive Director, Dr. Prema Mathai-Davis, a native of India.

2001 YWCA undertakes a major restructuring (the largest of any non-profit ever) to shift from a top down to a bottom up grassroots organization. Local associations joined regions and elected their representatives to the National Coordinating Board. They also adopted a focus on Hallmark Programs – the Economic Empowerment of Women and Racial Justice, set in place the goal for a revitalized brand identity and put a renewed emphasis on advocacy, developing leaders under 30 and enhancing connections with the World YWCA.