Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services empowers Deaf and DeafBlind survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment to transform their lives, while striving to change the beliefs and behaviors that foster and perpetuate violence. We provide comprehensive services to individuals and families, community education, and advocacy on systems and policy issues.ADWAS is striving towards a healthy community that is free of violence and oppression.
Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services (ADWAS), is the only nonprofit organization in the Pacific Northwest that provides 100% fully accessible supportive housing with on-site support services for Deaf and DeafBlind survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. ADWAS provides comprehensive services to individuals and families, community education, and advocates for policy change to reduce systemic inequality.
ADWAS was founded by Marilyn J. Smith, a survivor of sexual assault, in 1986 after a Deaf community member was killed by her partner after returning to him because of the barriers she faced as a Deaf woman in accessing support services. This shocked the Deaf community and led Marilyn to establish ADWAS. Started in her home basement, ADWAS has since grown to support Deaf and DeafBlind survivors through comprehensive services.
Deaf and DeafBlind survivors have challenges getting the support they need because of cultural and linguistic barriers in the criminal justice and medical systems, public resources, other nonprofit organizations, employment, and housing services. Lack of experience by service providers often leads to inadequate services or no services at all.
ADWAS staff is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and excels at training Deaf victims on how to survive and thrive within the existing Deaf support system, empowering them to break the cycle of violence within their families. ADWAS also incorporates understanding the history of oppression and violence by maintaining ongoing dialogues from social justice and transformative justice viewpoints.
ADWAS' comprehensive services include advocacy, Children's Program, counseling, education and outreach, positive parenting, supportive housing, and the National Deaf Domestic Violence Hotline. On top of our comprehensive resources, ADWAS also provides additional services and puts on multiple events throughout the year.
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