HAWC: Dedicated to Helping All Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence Build Safe and Healthy Lives
The #MeToo movement has given new visibility to the epidemic of sexual violence, an issue that impacts nearly every community. Anyone can be a target of sexual assault. In the state of Texas alone, two in five women and one in five men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime.
Established in 1977, the Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC) has supported survivors of domestic and sexual violence throughout the Houston community for over 40 years. As #MeToo elevates the voices of survivors, now more than ever, they need to know they are believed, they are not alone, and help is available.
Programs and Services
24-hour free and confidential domestic violence and sexual assault hotlines
120-bed shelter and support services
Individual and group counseling for adults and children
On-call hospital accompaniment for survivors of domestic and sexual assault
Housing program for survivors
Children’s court services
Violence prevention and education outreach
Raquel Fatiuk: Ms. Houston 2018 and HAWC victim’s advocate
Raquel Fatiuk, Ms. Houston 2018, has worn several different crowns. In May, she competes for Mrs. Texas US. Fatiuk is also a survivor of rape and a HAWC victim’s advocate.
When Fatiuk first began competing in pageants, she had to choose a platform for which she would advocate. For her, the choice was deeply personal. She chose ending victim blaming in sexual assault as her message. Hers was a powerful voice. Today, it serves as her life’s work. Her quest to shift the blame didn’t end on the pageant stage. As a HAWC victim’s advocate, Fatiuk visits local hospital emergency rooms offering the emotional support she knows only too well survivors need.
A warm and compassionate human being, Fatiuk finds that showing other survivors they are not alone, even right after violence, is deeply rewarding and a help on her own journey to being healed. She is a reassuring presence for survivors as they report to police and endure difficult medical exams. When survivors are alone and uncertain, she is the person whose hand they hold and the person they ask to hug.
Fatiuk’s clients aren’t always adults. There are times when she has to be there for children and their adult guardians who face the nightmare of knowing someone has violated a child’s trust and well-being. Here is the story she shares of one brave young boy, and his courageous mother:
“I’ve seen some children, one was molested by his own dad, and he was maybe five, six years old, and I just thought it was so courageous of him to even tell his mom that it was happening.
Talking to his mom, I was like, ‘You are the most brilliant mother.’ Just the way she was asking him questions and not making him feel blamed for what had happened … something horrible had just happened in their lives and she still figured out how to have the strength to move through it.”
Fatiuk’s stories highlight the resilience and strength every HAWC team member witnesses each and every day in the survivors they serve. Each one of the thousands of survivors HAWC helps each year carries their own story with incredible courage. Survivors deserve to be heard, to heal, and to live free from violence.