History of the Women’s Center of East Texas

The East Texas Association for Abused Families (ETAFAF) had early beginnings in October 1978. At that time, a group of concerned East Texas citizens, law enforcement officers and social service professionals met and defined the scope of the problem of domestic violence within the Longview community and identified the need for a program to address the problem.

Cards were printed with telephone numbers of helping agencies for victims of domestic violence. These were distributed by law enforcement officers when they became directly involved at the scene of domestic disturbances. Due to the volume of requests for crisis intervention services in June 1979, ETAFAF was formed as a chartered organization to assist the countless families referred for aid in domestic violence situations. The actual shelter for battered women and their children opened in November 1979. This shelter facility was purchased with donations from Gregg County, service organizations, the Junior League, civic organizations and private donations.

Until August 2008 the shelter was in its third and largest location, which is provided to the organization by the City of Longview for a minimal lease of $10 per year.

With funds from a Community Development Block Grant administered by the City of Longview and donations from area businesses and individuals, a new shelter was constructed to increase capacity. The new shelter can accommodate up to 30 women and chidren.

During the life of the program its services have expanded to include individual and group experiences for children, emergency medical and support services, educational and support groups for women in and out of shelter, legal advocacy, individual counseling, assistance in obtaining legal representation and protective orders, accompaniment and community education programs.

ETAFAF’s sexual assault program began with a steering committee in January 1982, consisting of 10 individuals interested in meeting the needs of sexual assault survivors. Most of these individuals were in related work fields such as social services, health care and law enforcement. A total community assessment was done of the number of sexual assaults reported to the police department and sheriff’s office. Additionally, statistics from all local hospitals and emergency clinics on sex related reports were gathered. After analyzing the data, it was determined there existed a great need for such a program. After the steering committee’s recommendations to affiliate the sexual assault center under the umbrella of ETAFAF, a board of directors meeting of ETAFAF was held and unanimously decided to incorporate the program as a part of our already existing family violence program. A sexual assault program was developed to provide accompaniment and support to sexual assault survivors throughout the medical and legal process. This program has expanded to include crisis intervention and ongoing counseling for survivors of sexual assault and their significant others, legal advocacy and community education programs.

In June 1989, ETAFAF’s Board of Directors voted to change the organization’s name to the Women’s Center of East Texas, Inc. (WCET)

In August 2002, WCET opened an outreach office in Marshall.

In February 2002, WCET moved into its largest Longview location to date. The WCET Outreach and Administrative Office house both the domestic violence and sexual assault outreach teams, as well as administrative and program support staff.

In April 2002, WCET opened an outreach office in Gilmer.

In August 2008 WCET opened a new shelter, with funds provided by a Community Development Block Grant through the City of Longview.

In August 2008 WCET opened its second thrift store.

Goals of the Women’s Center of East Texas:

To break the cycle of violence by providing a safe alternative to a violent home, by providing education, counseling, and support services to clients and their children.

To provide full sexual assault accompaniment services to survivors of sexual assault, to promote recovery from the assault and prosecution of perpetrators.

To provide education and awareness to the community concerning family violence and sexual assault.

To provide priority programs and services to women and their children.

To assist women – especially those in crisis and transition – in solving problems, seeking opportunities and meeting the challenges of a changing society.

To inform the community about the needs and concerns of women.