In 1974, there was no such thing
as a women’s center.
Men had bars, restaurants and clubs. Women had no such
places. So Ellen Berliner and Anne Steytler created one. The
women’s movement was in full swing. Friends and a group
from South Hills NOW contributed time and money. The
result was the Women’s Center South, housed in a storefront
in Dormont. Humble beginnings indeed for one of the first
six shelters in the United States for battered women.
Flyers were handed out, and women began coming. As
Steytler described it, “We learned to our horror that 40
percent of the women who found their way to us had been
beaten.” Without even realizing it, we had transitioned from
the women’s movement to the battered women’s movement.
And we began providing care for women who were coming
to us because the person who had promised to love and
cherish them had instead physically abused them.
past four decades,
we have been witness to the triumph
of the human spirit. We’ve seen
first-hand the strength and courage
of the victims of domestic violence.
And we’ve been privileged to help
thousands of women rebuild their
lives. With the help of everyone who
is committed to ending intimate
partner violence, our work must –
and will – continue.
Over the years, care has
been offered in various
locations, from the YWCA in Homewood-Brushton to
the basement of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
to Pittsburgh’s East End. In 1996, Women’s Center &
Shelter moved into its current facility that houses 36
women and children and where 140,000 individuals
have benefitted from comprehensive prevention and
Today, Women’s Center & Shelter continues to create
innovative programs aimed at preventing domestic
violence and providing services to victims of that
violence. As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, that
celebration is tempered by the knowledge that intimate
partner violence has increased over those years and our
services are needed more than ever.
Co-founders Anne Steytler (left)
and Ellen Berliner