Our History

Founded in 1983 on the premise that no one should live with violence or the fear of violence, The Laurel Center (TLC) empowers and supports victims of domestic violence by providing emergency housing, advocacy, support services, and education. We reach out to our community through education and awareness programs. Services for victims of sexual assault were added to the program in 1989. Each year, over 100 women and children stay in the emergency shelter and over 2,500 people receive support through our 18 programs and services.

During the past 30 years, The Laurel Center has continuously initiated programs to protect victims of abuse:

  • In 1991, TLC was the first program in Virginia to change the identities of two families whose situations were so dangerous that they required new identities and relocation outside Virginia.
  • In 1996, we instituted a program for stalking victims that received state and national acclaim.
  • In 1998, we introduced the Crisis Intervention Companions program to provide a fast response for victims of sexual assault in partnership with forensic nurses at Winchester Medical Center.
  • In 2001, TLC began a collaborative effort to reach victims of domestic violence who were involved with local departments of Social Service through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF).
  • In 2002, we initiated the Family Advocacy Program, a strategic partnership with Winchester Medical Center and the local Child Advocacy Center, to support families of children who are victims of sexual assault.
  • In 2006, we were named the recipient of the United Way's William M. Battaile Community Impact Award for outstanding service and collaboration in our community.
  • In 2007, our name was changed from the Shelter for Abused Women to The Laurel Center because it is a more inclusive and hopeful name.
  • In 2013 TLC collaborated with Shenandoah University to create the [Not Just] Women’s Center on SU’s campus.
  • In 2014 our sexual violence programming was expanded into Warren County.
  • TLC is a member of the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance, a statewide coalition of domestic violence and sexual assault crisis centers. The program meets all the standards for a Sexual Assault Crisis Center and is a Certified Domestic Violence Program.

Throughout our history, The Laurel Center has developed effective partnerships with local law enforcement agencies, the Commonwealth Attorneys' Office, Victim Witness, Winchester City Schools, Frederick County Schools, Winchester Medical Center, Council Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, the Homeless Advocacy Network and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.

The Laurel Center’s work was recognized as the Human Service Agency of the year by the Community Service Council (representing 50 local agencies) in 1997 and 2002, and our staff members have been selected as the Human Service Provider of the Year twice. At the state level, The Laurel Center has received awards and recognition for volunteer management, criminal justice advocacy and victim advocacy.

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