Emergency Exit

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About Us

One in four women in the United States is a victim of domestic violence at some point in her life. Stunned by this statistic, Founding Chief Executive Officer, Vivian Clecak and three other women, Carolyn Churm, Anne Wright and Margaret Thoreau knew they needed to help and had to make a permanent change. In 1981, these four women founded Human Options in Laguna Beach, California, starting with a crisis hotline for victims of domestic violence. One year later Human Options opened the first battered women’s shelter in south Orange County, California.

Their vision: a world in which no woman or child should ever feel afraid in her/his home. Today Human Options still holds this vision.

Vivian began her role as founding director in 1981 and still continues today as the Chief Executive Officer. Since that beginning in 1981, we have grown from a small grassroots agency to a multi-service, countywide program which breaks the cycle of domestic violence at every stage.

Highly trained, experienced professionals and volunteers staff our organization. To date we have served:

  • More than 25,600 individuals in our counseling and shelter programs
  • More than 51,000 hotline crisis
  • More than 257,000 individuals in our prevention programs

Through research, education and the art of listening, Human Options has grown and continues to grow. We listen to our clients to find out exactly what they need to become free from domestic violence. With this information and our comprehensive research, we continue to develop and strengthen our programs.

We are one of the very few emergency programs to do such research in the nation. Independent academic research has found more than 90% of graduates of our emergency shelter and transitional living program are violence free one year or more after graduation.

Human Options is the product of a committed, caring community. We invite you to become part of a community that makes the difference.


Anne, Carolyn, and Vivian at beginning of agency


      Human Options if founded in Laguna Beach by Vivian Clecak, Carolyn Churm, Anne Wright, and Margaret Thoreau


      The first battered women’s shelter is opened in south Orange County, CA


      Human Options begins first domestic violence prevention program for teens in local high schools


    Human Options opens first transitional housing program in Orange County and calls it Second Step


Opening ceremony at Second Step

1994 Irvine City Council invites agency to build a shelter in community
1996 New shelter opens. It is the first shelter in California designed and built for this purpose.
1997 Center for Children & Families, a community resource center, opens in Costa Mesa
First of four individual research projects conducted on effectiveness of residential programs
2000 Safe Options for Seniors pilot program begins for victims over 55 years of age
2001 Minnie Street Family Resource Center opens. The first collaborative of human services agencies embedded in this community
2004 Men’s Task Force established and creates 100 Men, 1 Voice, 1 Campaign
2008 Third Step transitional housing program established at former Tustin Marine Base