Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Traditions

Everyone has holiday traditions. Growing up my families New Year tradition was always lobsters for dinner and lots of dessert including egg nog. Different cultures have different traditions. Some cultures celebrate the New Year at different times of the year. This website has a list of New Year traditions from around the world.

Some traditions that I liked were:

In Australia New Year is a day for outdoor activities such as rodeos, picnic races and surf carnivals. (I like this one because its warm enough on New Years to go surfing...its their summer).

In Austria good luck symbols called Gl├╝cksbringer are exchanged. Glucjsbringer's are chocolate and marzipan candies shaped like pigs, gold coins, chimney sweeps, four-leaf clovers, and horseshoes.

In the Netherlands people burn Christmas trees on street bonfires and let off fireworks to ring in the New Year and as a way of driving out the spirits of the old year. (This is way better then throwing out your Christmas tree.)

What family or cultural traditions do you have?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

CRCC's Events - The Year In Review

from Michelle Feinberg, Special Events Coordinator

CRCC has been celebrating its 35th Anniversary year and what a year it has been! Community leaders, volunteers, corporate supporters, individual supports and CRCC staff all have taken part in recognizing 35 years of providing strength, compassion and hope for survivors of sexual violence.

Several events took place throughout the year; here are some of the highlights!

September 9, 2009- 35th Anniversary Luncheon featuring Keynote speaker Linor Abargil and a memorable performance from “Choir 35”. In front of a full room of more than 450 people, Linor shared her emotional and powerful story of her experience with being a survivor of sexual violence. Linor continues to speak out against sexual violence and seeks to use her law degree to represent women who are victims.

October 17, 2009- No Name Band event. The Masonic Auditorium was rocking with 200 of Cleveland’s finest. The No-Name Band, made up of a group of prominent community leaders donated their time and talents to perform and help raise funds for CRCC.

November 5, 2005- CRCC opened its doors to the community for a House Warming Party. More than 200 of the Center’s friends were treated to tours of the new beautiful space. On June 1, 2009, CRCC moved into its new home in the Leader Building. The new space is more than twice the size of the old and offers a truly healing and tranquil environment.

CRCC looks forward to continuing its vital mission for the next 35 years! Thank you for your support this year and for helping us make a difference in this community!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Healing the Healer through Movement

from the Battered Women's Shelter/Rape Crisis Center of Summit and Medina Counties

Helping others during this economy is especially stressful, but how can we help others if we are not taking care of ourselves? One way to heal yourself is by learning the theory and practice of Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi movements. At this workshop, professionals in the helping field can learn how to benefit from controlled breathing, meditation, physical movement, mental imagery and stretching. This class is limited to 25 people and will fill up fast. No prior experience is necessary. Loose and comfortable clothing is required.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Fee: $25.00
AGMC Health & Wellness Center—West
4125 Medina Rd. Akron, OH 44333

Presenters: Dana Zedak, BWS/RCC Director of Services
Donna Gardner, Certified Yoga Instructor
Tim Loomis, Martial Arts Instructor

Contact Janet Black at 330.374.0740 x126 or for registration information.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Alaska's New Budget for SA

Alaska's new budget has money set aside for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assaults.

"...Parnell said the $10.5 billion budget was a limited but did include some modest new initiatives, such as taking steps to deal with Alaska's domestic violence and sexual assault problems. Alaska perennially ranks among the worst in the nation..."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Friendly Competition

Not to be out-done by my holiday lighting display, Sarah and Kate have been feverishly working in the spirit of friendly competition!

Here's what Kate has accomplished...

And Sarah's hard work...

Thursday, December 24, 2009


"You can not do all the good the world needs, but the world needs all the good you can do."

- Unknown

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Take Time

It's the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also one of the busiest times of year. As the Christmas carol "The Twelve Pains of Christmas" humorously articulates, many of us are "rigging up the lights" and "sending Christmas cards" - even though we may not know "half of these people."

In between getting flashlights when fuses have been blown and finding parking spaces, I hope that all of you are remembering to take some time for YOU.

As hardworking Advocates, you so often give of your time, talents and hearts. Please be good to yourselves, and take time to enjoy the magic of the season.

Build a snowman.

Make a snow angel.

Enjoy a hot cup of cocoa.



Listen to music.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cleaning for a Reason

I just learned about this great service being offered arround the country.

Cleaning for a Reason

If you know any woman currently undergoing Chemo, please pass the word to her that there is a cleaning service that provides FREE housecleaning - 1 time per month for 4 months while she is in treatment.

All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor fax a note confirming the treatment. Cleaning for a Reason will have a participating maid service in her zip code area arrange for the service.

Please pass this information on to bless a woman going through Breast Cancer treatment. This organization serves the entire USA and currently has 547 partners to help these women. It’s our job to pass the word and let them know that there are people out there that care. Be a blessing to someone and pass this information along.

"You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid!"

"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with...."

Does that movie quote sound familiar? It's good old Clark Griswold from Christmas Vacation. I think we're all guilty of watching reruns of classic holiday movies such as National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, or the yearly 24-hour marathon of The Christmas Story. My family really is something out of Christmas Vacation, and I do have somewhat of an Uncle Eddie (except his name is just not Eddie), so I feel a particularly strong connection to the movie.

What are some of your favorite holiday movies? Do you watch them year after year, and still laugh at all of the same parts?

"Okay, people, tomorrow morning 10am, Santa's coming to town!"
"Santa! Oh my god! Santa, here? I know him! I know him!"

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gift Wrapping Results

I wanted to say thank you to everyone who helped with the Gift Wrapping at Barns and Noble. I had a great time and was happy to meet so many of the volunteers.

I have some great news about the results of our time wrapping gifts. We answered questions about the services provided by CRCC and several people took CRCC brochures and information about volunteering at the Center. We also raised $398.42 for programs at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center!! This money can provide:
  • A one hour art therapy session to a child survivor of rape or sexual abuse

  • An education and rape sensitivity workshop for police officers


  • Two girls an opportunity to participate in a day-long empowerment and self esteem program

Thank you again to those who helped to wrap gifts:

Lauren Au
Lisa Berg
Chris Echard
Laura Gill
Kelly Hatgas
Ryan Knotts
Melanie Lauricea
Mandy McCarthy
Erin Roberts
Heather Tripp
Clarice Williams

CNN Story on Rape Victims on College Campuses

Rape victims offer advice to today's college women

One of our fellow Advocates had a thought-provoking post a few weeks ago on rape occuring on college campuses and the reaction of the university. I'd like to share another article in the same vein.

"...A handful of former students who spoke out and reported rapes at their schools told CNN they didn't feel protected by their universites. They were initially interviewed as part of an investigative series by the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based nonprofit that says it seeks to make institutions more transparent and accountable... "

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wendy's Christmas Display

I've been very busy working on my holiday light display. I hope you enjoy what I've done with my place! Check out the 0:42 mark - where things get a little funky!

Amazing Grace Techno - Computer Controlled Christmas Lights from Richard Holdman on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

50 arrested in Operation Cyber Safe child porn sweep in Cuyahoga County

from the Plain Dealer

By Michael Sangiacomo
CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force arrested 36 adults and 14 juveniles on a combined 2,300 charges involving child pornography, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announced Wednesday.

Operation Cyber Safe was conducted May 3 through Oct. 15 and involved catching people trading child porn over the Internet. Mason said it was like "shooting fish in a barrel."

The suspects used a file-sharing Web site, which allowed investigators to track users.

The arrests were made all over Cuyahoga County and more than 2,500 pictures and videos of child pornography were seized.

One of the suspects was a woman, 26-year-old Illiana Kaufman. She also faces charges accusing her running a marijuana growing operation.

All suspects were charged with pandering and creating child pornography, the illegal use of a minor and possessing criminal tools.

The suspect with the most charges was Eric Bambino of Cleveland, who was indicted on 102 offenses.

100-year-old N.Y. child molester to be freed

from the Associated Press

BUFFALO, New York - Everything that pedophile Theodore Sypnier has to show for his 100 years on Earth is packed in a single duffel bag as he prepares to begin a new chapter in life: freedom.

It's a chapter that prosecutors, judges and others who know him never wanted — or expected — to see written.

New York's oldest registered sex offender is scheduled to move by week's end out of a Buffalo halfway house for released inmates and into a place of his own, after completing his latest term in state prison for molesting little girls.

The judge who sentenced him said at the time that she expected him to die behind bars.
'Unrepentant heart'But 10 years after his last arrest, as Sypnier prepared to shed the closely monitored lifestyle of the halfway house, its director warned that the spry and active Sypnier has not changed from the manipulator who used his grandfatherly charm to snare and rape victims as young as 4.

"Whether he's 100 or 101 or 105, the same person that was committing these crimes 10, 25, 30 years ago still exists today and has an unrepentant heart," said the Rev. Terry King, director of Grace House, which has twice taken Sypnier in from prison. "He is someone that we as parents, as members of the community, any community, really need to fear."

Six months after marking his 100th birthday in the Groveland Correctional Facility — becoming the first New York inmate to reach the milestone while incarcerated — the retired telephone company worker now says he wants to get to know the youngest members of a family that has disowned him.

"I'll tell them I never harmed any children," the father, grandfather and great-grandfather told his hometown newspaper, The Buffalo News.

A former daughter-in-law said he is not likely to get the chance.

"No one from the family plans to have any contact with him," Diane Sypnier said before ending a brief phone interview.

Kids called him 'Grandpa'Being grandfatherly was how the 5-foot-5, 150-pound Sypnier found his victims, authorities say. After his most recent arrest at age 90 on charges of raping and sodomizing a 4-year-old girl and her 7-year-old sister, his neighbors in the suburb of Tonawanda recalled what appeared to be a kindly Sypnier offering rides to adults, handing out money to children so they could buy candy, and baby-sitting.

The victimized sisters called him "Grandpa," their mother said at the time, adding that it "was a total shock" when police showed her sexually explicit pictures of her girls found in Sypnier's apartment.

Sypnier's convictions date to 1987, when he was given three years' probation for sex abuse. He spent a year in prison for sexually abusing a minor in 1994. His neighbors in Tonawanda never knew of Sypnier's background because he was convicted before the adoption of laws requiring sex offenders to register with police.

A relative once came forward and said Sypnier had molested her while she was growing up, former Erie County prosecutor Frank Clark told the News. Authorities wonder what else might lie in Sypnier's past.

"People don't start to become pedophiles at 78," Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita told the AP. "I call them vampires. ... This is something that's deep inside of them, and they won't want to stop doing this until they're dead."

'Scary proposition'But Sypnier says he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice, despite twice pleading guilty in the case involving the sisters.

"Those children crawled into bed with me because they were frightened, but there was never any sexual hanky-panky," Sypnier told the News.

Sypnier initially pleaded guilty in 2000 to two counts of rape, 15 counts of sodomy and endangering the welfare of a child for molesting the Tonawanda girls, as well as three in Buffalo. An appeals court threw out the conviction in 2002 after Sypnier claimed he was confused at the time, leading to another plea the following year to a lesser charge.

In sentencing Sypnier to as many as 10 years in prison, state Supreme Court Justice Penny Wolfgang told him she expected he would spend the rest of his life behind bars.
"The sheer notion of him wandering the streets unattended or unsupervised is a scary proposition," King said.

Sypnier was released on parole in 2007, only to be returned to prison in 2008 after failing to attend sex-offender counseling. He completed his term in November and will be on parole through 2012. Until then, he's forbidden from using e-mail, chat rooms or social networking sites, hanging around playgrounds or schools, or spending time in bars.

Instead, he spends his days watching television, cooking, socializing in the halfway house and attending programming, King said.

Sypnier's new address has not been disclosed, but the law requires him to enter it in the state's sex offender registry.

Although his age makes him New York's oldest registered sex offender, there is at least one older offender elsewhere. Bert Jackson of Utah is 103 and living under home confinement.
Thoughts or comments? Leave them here!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Special Events Intern - New Position and Posting!

from Sarah Trimble, Director of Resource Development

Under supervision of the Special Events Coordinator, the Special Events intern will be responsible for assisting the development staff in various phases of event production and administration. The internship program is designed to provide opportunities for the individual to learn about all phases of event planning, coordination and execution. Job description includes but is not limited to:

- Assisting in developing event plans and timeline
- Day to day logistical planning
- Communicating with staff, vendors, and community members
- Marketing and promotion
- Public Relations- communicating with the media and writing press releases
- Creating opportunities to generate revenue from events
- Event evaluation and follow up
- Management of social media outlets
- General office duties

The intern will work the development staff, potential and current donors, other community members and vendors to gain a full understanding of event production. In providing an opportunity for the intern to learn event production, the intern will be required to have the following skills:

- Interest in working for a Non-profit organization
- Interest in the coordination, planning, and support of special events, daily operational and administrative functions
- Excellent writing, organizational and communication skills
- Detail oriented thinking
- Familiarity with Microsoft Word, Excel, Online services, Photo Shop a plus!
- A general sense of administrative management

CRCC Event:
2010 Sing Out for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (May 2010): This community wide event raises awareness about sexual violence, as well as financial support for the only local agency providing comprehensive services to sexual assault survivors and those supportive of them. Sing Out is led by an all-start chorale comprised of community, civic and business leaders who join voices to Sing Out against rape and sexual violence.

In accordance with CRCC intern programs, the intern must:
- Be able to work a flexible schedule and attend events outside of normal work week
- Work at least 16 hours a week
Please note that this job description is meant to be a generic description and represents the minimum job duties an individual will be required to perform. Individual departments will/can customize job descriptions and hours work to meet their specific needs.
This is an unpaid internship. Interns will be reimbursed for downtown parking.
Interested applicants should submit cover letter and resume ASAP to:

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
Director of Resource Development, Sarah Trimble
526 Superior Ave. Suite 1400
Cleveland, OH 44114

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fairview Hospital SANE Program Presents...

“Stress, Burnout, Counter Transference, and Vicarious Trauma”
Stress Relief: An Evening of Art Therapy.

A hands-on evening creating art and learning about the difference between Stress, Vicarious Trauma, and Burnout.

Tuesday, December 15th
8:30pm – 10:00pm
Fairview Hospital
Meeting Room A

The evening is designed to address the importance of discussing and addressing vicarious trauma, counter transference, compassion fatigue and burnout on the provider who works with traumatized clients and/or high stress situations.

The workshop will provide an exercise in art therapy, in addition to gaining valuable tools for avoiding these problems or how to intervene if they already exist.

Speaker: Claire Campbell MA, PC, AT:NCC

This is a FREE event but an RSVP is required in order to ensure that we have enough supplies for all participants. Contact Alison Rerko at 216-476-7278

Monday, December 14, 2009

SORN/GPS Monitoring

I'm really interested in your comments on this ...

From Gongwer News Service,, December 9, 2009.

HOUSE COMMITTEE HEARINGS CRIMINAL JUSTICE HB 369* SORN/GPS MONITORING (Luckie) To require that a person who registers under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law and who does not have a fixed residence address be monitored by an active global positioning system device until the person acquires a fixed residence address.

Rep. Luckie said his measure would require certain homeless sex offenders to be fitted with GPS tracking devices, a move that would allow law enforcement more opportunity to monitor their locations. He said the measure responds to a situation in Dayton where two women were attacked by the same homeless man.

Under the measure, offenders would have to wear the devices until they find permanent, fixed addresses. Rep. Luckie noted that homeless offenders now just have to provide general locations for their residences.

Responding to questions, the sponsor said the devices cost about $4 to $7 per month for monitoring. Further, he said he's not insistent on the use of GPS monitoring, but would be agreeable to using other forms of tracking technology that would help monitor offenders.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gift Wrapping for CRCC

Hello Volunteers,

I have news of an exciting and different way to help out the CRCC! We have been invited back to the Woodmere Barnes and Noble Store to participate in their gift wrapping program. During the holiday season, Barnes and Noble has a table set up in the store where people can get their books wrapped, and the organization wrapping gifts keeps any money raised during that time.

We are also able to provide information about the CRCC at this table. This gives us the opportunity to publicize CRCC’s services.

Since this is our second year participating, we have been given better hours working the table which means we will need more help. We are looking for 2-3 volunteers per shift. Don’t worry if you are not great at wrapping gifts - most of what we are wrapping are books, and they are pretty easy to wrap. Plus, we will also need help with other things at the table. We need people to wrap gifts, people to help with donations, and of course, something I know you are all good at, people to talk about CRCC’s services.

We still need help on Wednesday 12/16 for the 1pm-4pm shift and the 4pm-7pm shift. I plan on being at all of the shifts and look forward to meeting you in person!!

The Barnes and Noble is: 28801 Chagrin Boulevard / Woodmere, OH 44122

Let me know if you’re available to help out at THANKS!

Just a few examples Wendy wrapped up quickly for the blog ...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mayor Frank Jackson Creates Commission to Examine Response to Sexual Assault and Missing Person Cases

the front page of today's Plain Dealer
article by Rachel Dissell

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson on Wednesday appointed a commission to examine how police handle sexual assault and missing person cases in the city.

Police and city prosecutors' response to those cases has come under intense scrutiny in the last month after the remains of 11 women were found in the Imperial Avenue home of suspected serial killer Anthony Sowell.

The Plain Dealer reported that six of those women were killed after police failed to aggressively pursue allegations that Sowell attacked two other women in the past 12 months.

There was also public outcry about police action -- or inaction -- on missing persons, with families saying they were dissuaded from making reports and were forced to canvass neighborhoods and offer rewards on their own.

The three-member commission will examine city policies and practices, compare them to the best practices around the county and, if warranted, recommend changes.

"We haven't given them any boundaries," Jackson said.

However, Jackson made it clear the group will not specifically review police response related to the Imperial Avenue case. An internal review will take place after the criminal case against Sowell is closed, he said.

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Director Megan O'Bryan, one of the three members, said she hopes the panel's work will be an opportunity to create change out of a terrible tragedy.

The commission can "look at the possibility of systemic change so we can make our community healthier and safer," she said.

O'Bryan will be joined on the panel by Assistant Director of Public Safety Mary Bounds and Attorney Teresa Beasley.

Sowell has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 11 counts of aggravated murder and other charges. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

He also was charged in three other attacks on women, including the two which police initially failed to aggressively pursue in 2008 and last year.

In one of those cases, authorities decided the victim was not credible and said there was not enough evidence to file charges.

In another case police delayed getting a warrant to search Sowell's house for evidence for weeks because they could not reach the woman who made the report.

Last week, a Cuyahoga County grand jury found enough evidence to issue indictments in those cases and another stemming from an Oct. 20 incident.

Executive Director of End Violence Against Women International Joanne Archambault, said that the commission members will not only have to review policies and data, but as a lot of questions about why things are done the way they are.

Archambault, a retired San Diego sex crimes supervisor and expert in sexual assault training and investigations, said the commission members should ask why cases are deemed unfounded; why victims couldn't be located or seem hesitant to cooperate with police; and why a certain cases are closed and others are left open, she said.

Archambault said they also might want to question the reason for a single unit that investigates sex offenses and child abuse, as well as examine the ratios of detectives to the population and caseload.

"Luckily for them this has been done to a large extent elsewhere," she said." There are a lot of tools out there already created to make these comparisons and help ask these questions." The sex crimes unit has been examined before.

Members of the Special Commission on Missing Persons and Sex Crimes Investigations were appointed Wednesday by Mayor Frank Jackson, who touted their collective expertise in criminal justice, law enforcement, victim advocacy and sexual assault cases.

Teresa Beasley
An attorney with Vorys, Sater Seymour and Pease LLP, Beasley, 44, is a former Cleveland law director and serves on the board of trustees of many organizations.

Mary Bounds
Cleveland's assistant safety director, Bounds, 62, served as Cleveland's first female police chief for six months in 2001-2002 and retired from the department in 2005.

Megan O'Bryan
As president and CEO of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, O'Bryan, 39, oversaw an expansion of the center's therapeutic and educational outreach services.

Panel to review Cleveland police handling of missing person and sexual assault cases

Wise Words

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

- The Dalai Lama

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mother-Son Incest: Hidden in Shame and Rising

from ABC News, by Susan Donaldson James

Mother-Son Incest: Hidden in Shame and Rising
Sons Don't Report It, 'Cunning' Mothers Rarely Suspected and Society Finds Topic Too 'Ugly'

The molestation began as gentle fondling when Gregg Milligan was 4 years old, but it soon escalated to aggressive touching and eventually beatings that would render him unconscious.

Gregg Milligan was sexually abused and beaten by his mother from the age of 4 until he escaped at 11. His mother who is now dead, was an alcoholic and a prostitute. Only two of her seven children -- Milligan is one of them - avoided addiction and violent behavior.

For seven years, until Michigan child welfare workers intervened when he was 11, Milligan was too ashamed to reveal that his tormentor was his own mother.

"She was very brutal," said Milligan. "Through her difficulty reaching climax, she would become frustrated and violent, hitting and punching and slapping not only my genitals, but my face and body."

"It was terribly confusing, and it wasn't just the violation," said Milligan, now 46, and director of infrastructure for a major health care provider in Michigan.

As bad as the incest was, things got worse. Milligan's father had left when he was 2, but by the time he was 8, his mother, an alcoholic and a prostitute, invited strange men home who would sexually abuse him.

"Back then I would never tell anyone, not even a sibling," said Milligan, the most "compliant and sensitive" of three children living at home. "I was just too afraid. It was so horrendous for me to believe she actually would do this to me."

One of the unspeakable secrets in the world of child sexual abuse is that mothers can be molesters. Often, they prey on daughters, but more frequently their sons -- who report increased feelings of isolation and sexual confusion along with thoughts of suicide.

Both of Milligan's parents are now dead, but his past still haunts him.

"Around 10 years old, I started to get this unbelievable feeling of dread that if I don't get out I am going to die from the decadence, the debauchery, the forced molestations and the beatings that became more severe," he said. "For three months I suffered from hysterical paralysis." An estimated one in four girls and one in seven boys will be sexually assaulted or abused before the age of 18, according to the Alabama-based National Children's Advocacy Center. In 27 percent of these cases, the abuse is perpetrated by the child's parents.

Previous studies of day care workers published in 2000 in the Journal of Sex Research, found that women -- without male accomplices -- accounted for only about 6 percent of the abuse of females and 14 percent of males.

But more recent national surveys indicate about 12 percent of all child abuse cases are committed by women -- "a 100 percent increase compared with previous data," according to Chris Newlin, NCAC's executive director.

"We view females as care givers and protectors of children," he told "Now we are beginning to understand females are sexually abusing children, and it is occurring much more."
Professionals are stymied by public perception that incest is "an ugly subject," and that women can't commit such crimes.

Please click here for the rest of this story. Any thoughts or comments?

A Day in the Life of a Development Coordinator

from Rebecca Bash, Development Coordinator

As in all small to medium sized non profits, we are all required to wear a number of different hats. As the development coordinator at CRCC, I am responsible with assisting the Director of Resource Development in raising funds so that CRCC can continue to provide the wide range of services, free of charge, to the community. Fundraising consists of writing grants, developing and cultivating relationships with the community and with funders, and providing behind the scenes support for the Center itself.

My day consists of meeting deadlines (yikes!), writing (that’s why this blog is so short, sorry!) and helping out with whatever projects (crises) come my way.

I started in this position in late July-prior to that I worked in development for Cleveland Public Theatre (quite a transition, I know). It’s amazing to me to see the high level of teamwork and support my coworkers and the volunteers provide to each other-even as the Center grows, crises occur and the community changes.

As development coordinator, I am honored to be a part of CRCC’s mission statement and part of the team!

I’ve included a picture of my office- I’m typically surrounded by stacks of paper, to do lists and coffee!!!
(Notice that on the day Becky took this picture she had both coffee and Diet Coke!
She's staying caffeinated!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence Job Posting

Consultant/Contractor to Serve as Executive Director

Location: Columbus, Ohio (consultant may also work at times from a home-based office) Travel is required in and out of state.

Classification: Independent Consultant/Contractor, temporary, 35 hours per week (grant funded)

Compensation: This positions is contractual and hourly rate is negotiable, no benefits are included

Overview of Organization

The Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence (OAESV) is a newly formed statewide membership organization. OAESV's mission is to work to eliminate all forms of sexual violence and to advocate for the rights and needs of survivors and co-survivors of sexual violence. The organizational culture and core operating values are based on the recognition that all forms of oppression are interrelated and that to end sexual violence as a society we must work to end other forms of oppression. The elimination of gender inequality and other forms of systemic oppression are an integral part of sexual and intimate partner violence prevention and intervention work. OAESV's ultimate goal is to achieve human rights and social justice for all Ohioans.

Key Qualifications

OAESV is seeking an executive director with visionary leadership, a deep passion for social change, and the capacity to influence systems' responses to sexual violence. This dedicated and compassionate professional will bring a wealth of experience to help establish and guide this new organization as he/she coordinates OAESV's activities pertaining to public policy, advocacy, training, and technical assistance. This is a unique opportunity to help establish a not-for-profit organization that collectively speaks to the needs and issues, at a state-level, of sexual assault survivors and co-survivors and those providing service and support to them. OAESV will also join the alliance of coalitions across the country working to end rape and sexual violence.

Reporting to the board of directors, the executive director is generally responsible for the following:

* Providing leadership to the organization and overseeing its day-to-day operations;
* Overseeing effective management of the organization's financial resources;
* Being the external face and voice of OAESV to partners, membership organizations, rape and sexual assault stakeholders, legislators, and elected public officials;
* Working closely with stakeholders and continuously developing new mutually beneficial partnerships;
* Creating and sustaining OAESV as a reputable, thriving organization with great integrity that public and private sectors seek as a partner;
* Cultivating financial and other community support to sustain OAESV;
* Facilitating a strong working relationship with the board of directors and its committees; and
* Serving as an outspoken and respected advocate.

Preferred Qualifications:

Ideal candidates for this position will have acute business acumen and a track record of financial sustenance and growth as they cultivate leadership and management to support and sustain that success. They will also share a deep commitment to the mission of OAESV and to the individuals served and supported by OAESV's membership agencies.

OAESV is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to cultural
diversity and strongly encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds to apply.

For more information, please contact Kara Porter at or (216)619-6194 x106

Monday, December 7, 2009

Child Rape Victim Files Unprecedented Legal Case

from the Justice League of Ohio

Child rape victim files unprecedented legal case against her attacker after prosecutor failes to win an indictment despite dozeens of pages of confessions from the alleged perpetrator.

Relying on dozens of pages of hand written letters of confession from the attacker to the victim and two eye witnesses, a Knox County Ohio victim who is described in court papers as Jane Doe filed an unprecedented legal case against a man she claims raped her over 1100 times between the ages of 9 and 18.

The prosecutor once attempted to indict her attacker but the grand jury issued a no-bill.

The victim is taking this step on her own because she claims that the grand jury has never seen the letters and film found hidden away with the letters was never developed.

Assisted by The Justice League of Ohio and national legal experts from all over the country the victim filed an extraordinary “AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF ARREST AND PROSECUTION.”

The Affidavit, if successful, will provide a first of its kind opportunity for a victim to seek criminal charges wherein the prosecutor’s efforts were unsuccessful.

The victim is awaiting the court’s decision.

Friday, December 4, 2009

From a Fellow Advocate

from Angelo Trivisonno, Hotline Advocate since Spring 2009

Chicago Tribune columnist Amy Dickinson responded to a letter in her "Ask Amy" column recently... The survivor lays out a story all too familiar to us hotline advocates. Unfortunately, Ms. Dickenson doesn't give the most appropriate/helpful advice...

The response has been criticized all over the internet

but the opener is definitely the kicker: "Were you a victim? Yes. ...[Y]ou were a victim of your own awful judgment." This is followed by copy-and-paste advice from RAINN, and a final paragraph telling the survivor what she must do (get tested for STDs and pregnancy, see a counselor, confront the perpetrator).

The sad part is that this was in a national newspaper and probably read by hundreds, maybe thousands, of survivors. Hopefully, they were able to extract something useful from it, although it's presentation wasn't the best.

Not sure if this is done across Ohio yet, but we should make sure that all newspaper and media outlets know that the CRCC exists and is here to help columnists, writers, producers, etc. in addressing these very important and sensitive topics, so that nothing like this happens in an Ohio newspaper. (I know this is happening in Cleveland with Megan O'Bryan's excellent articles in the Plain Dealer!)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

From a Fellow Advocate

from Angelo Trivisonno, Hotline Advocates since Spring 2009

Sexual Assault on Campus Shrouded in Secrecy
High Rates of Rape, Closed Hearings, and Confusing Laws

This article is interesting because it highlights how universities use federal privacy laws to effectively "smokescreen" their administrative hearings and marginalize survivors of sexual assault. I think that this is an embarrassment to the institution of higher education, and feel that the issue isn't truly about student privacy as administrators say, but about a college's reputation and image to the public and the campus community.

Based on the accounts in this story, CRCC hotline calls I've received, and stories I've heard during my time in undergrad, I know that campuses unfortunately are not as safe as they seem.Legislators at both the federal and state levels need to take a serious look at the legislation they have written and correct these obvious failures to prevent sexual assaults on college campuses.

Perhaps Congress can create a commission to investigate and make suggestions on how to reconcile both the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Clery Act to ensure both privacy AND safety on campus. Congress has written thousands upon thousands of pages of legislation this year alone--you would think a legislator could dedicate a few dozen pages to address this rampant problem.

Until someone acts, the fear of sexual assault on campus will continue to haunt students, and the voices of survivors will remain silent and suppressed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

From the Desk of Sarah Bartholomew, Volunteer Coordinator

Hello CRCC Volunteers!

I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center full time.

I hope to get to know all of you better and wanted to tell you all a little bit about me. I graduated from Boston University with a BA in psychology. I then worked at a domestic violence agency in New York as a case manager working with individuals who were at danger of losing housing or who had lost housing due to domestic violence. I moved to Cleveland to attend Case Western Reserve University. I graduated in May with my Masters in Social Work. During my time at Case, I was lucky enough to do an internship at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center as a Graduate Therapeutic Services Intern. I completed my volunteer training during the summer of ’08 and have been volunteering as a hotline and face to face advocate.

I am excited to see all of the work that has been going on here at the CRCC to improve the Volunteer program and believe that as we implement these changes we will be able to better serve survivors of sexual violence and those who support them. I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to call me with any suggestions or thoughts about the program or just to introduce yourself.

Sarah can be reached at or x116. Welcome (back), Sarah!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Former Rockette to Perform One-Woman Play at LCCC’s Stocker Arts Center

from Lorain County Community College

Below is information on an upcoming play at Lorain County Community College’s Stocker Arts Center. The main character in the play deals with the trauma of repeat rapes, and may be of interest to your community. Following the play will be an open discussion period with actress/writer Joanna Rush called “Refusing to be a Victim.”

Actress, writer and former Rockette Joanna Rush will kick up her heels in the funny and moving one-woman play “Asking for It” at 7:30 p.m., January 22 and January 23 at Lorain County Community College’s Stocker Arts Center.

Tickets are $15 each and can be ordered online at, or by calling the Stocker Arts Center box office at 800-995-5222 (ext. 4040) from 12-6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tickets are also available at the box office, located in the lobby of the Stocker Arts Center. This production contains mature material and may not be suitable for children under 13.

A dark comedy written and performed by Rush, “Asking for It” follows the evolution of Bernadette O’Connell, who was named “Outstanding Catholic of the Year,” as she puddle-jumps through the primordial slime of American culture to personhood. Possessed of a religious fervor surpassed only by her fierce libido, she passes on life with the nuns and instead joins 25 sisters as a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall. But her sexual miseducation leaves her vulnerable to the twisted testosterone-filled world permeating The Big Apple. Bernadette rides the highs of marriage and Broadway, and struggles through lows as a dancer with a bum knee and a kid to support. While both flaunting and fearing her sexuality, she learns what she should have been asking for all along.

Directed by Tony nominee Lynne Taylor-Corbett, “Asking for It” is a zestful kaleidoscope of faith and femininity, repression and redemption, joy and terror, spiced with song and dance.

Audience members are encouraged to stay after the production to participate in an open discussion called “Refusing to be a Victim.”

More information on “Asking for It” can be found at If each show is not sold out by the evening of the performance, Take a Chance tickets will be available for half-price at the box office, beginning at 6 p.m. January 22 and January 23.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Therapeutic Services Program Evaluation

from Kirsti Mouncey, Vice President of Client and Clinical Services

Do you ever wonder what happens to the people you talk to on the hotline? Do you wonder if the woman who you advocated for on a hospital call actually ever calls for counseling services? Are you curious if the guy who calls the hotline to support himself in his healing process actually ever gets better?

Well, I can’t give you all the answer to those questions. What I can tell you however is that 21% of all the therapy clients who come to us for services are referred by the hotline and 59% have heard about us in the hospital.

We just recently learned through a program evaluation that the people who come to CRCC to receive therapeutic services experience a significant reduction in their trauma symptoms and report extremely high levels of satisfaction. Reading the report has certainly affirmed me that the work we do actually really helps people – something I can easily forget in day-to-day business of things.

I am also reminded how important all of you are, advocates and hotline volunteers, to make this first connection with someone and let them know that hope and healing are possible. I am certain that the people who you refer to the center have been heard, believed and listened to in a way that they felt comfortable enough to make yet another difficult call. Thank you all for being such an important link in our chain. As you can see, healing is possible!

Here is the summary for you to read. Please contact me if you are interested in the entire report.

CRCC Program Evaluation
Executive Summary

This report describes an evaluation of Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (CRCC) services conducted by external consultants with no prior relationship with CRCC. The purpose of the evaluation was to provide information about the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions for survivors of sexual assault.

The sample was 88% female. The average age was 27.64 years. Forty-eight percent of the sample was Caucasian, 42% African American, and 10% reported other ethnic groups. The sample was also diverse economically, with 28% reporting household incomes less than $15,000 per year and 20% reporting annual incomes above $50,000.

The evaluation collected three types of data, including: (1) A standardized measure of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms, (2) Questions designed by program staff specifically to assess participant experiences of CRCC services, with responses given on numerical scales, and (3) Qualitative, narrative data -- in other words, comments written by participants

In a longitudinal analysis for all participants with measures at two timepoints (i.e., an analysis combining clients receiving individual therapy, group therapy, and both), the results indicated significant reduction in PTSD symptoms during the course of CRCC services. An analysis including all participants who received individual therapy (whether or not group therapy was also received) replicated this basic finding and also provided separate examination of the three PTSD symptom clusters distinguished by our measure. These results indicated similar decreases in subscales measuring, (1) re-experiencing the trauma, (2) numbing and avoidance, and (3) hyperarousal.

When the PTSD data were analyzed for clients receiving only individual therapy and clients receiving only group therapy (thus eliminating clients who received both), the results indicated significant reduction of syptoms in clients receiving individual therapy, but group therapy clients did not exhibit significant symptom decreases. These results suggest that if PTSD is a major problem for a survivor, individual therapy should be part of the service mix, while group therapy may be less important for treating PTSD.

Program-specific data generally indicated that participants had extremely positive experiences and responses to CRCC therapeutic services. In our examination of what clients found helpful, the results provided similar levels of strong support for the emotional/expressive and cognitive/learning aspects of therapy. The qualitative data echoed the quantitative results in indicating extremely high levels of client satisfaction.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Amanda's Amazing Apple Dessert

Amanda Maggiotto set the world on fire with her fabulous apple dessert at the Volunteer Appreciation Event. You may think I'm exaggerating. But I'm not. They caused a commotion. Hubub. Brou-ha-ha. If you were there, you remember.

The best part about Amanda's recipe? It's totally easy to recreate for yourself or your loved ones. So easy even Wendy can do it. It doesn't get easier than that!

- 1 Small apple
- 1/2 tsp each of brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice & sugar (or Splenda)
- 1 can 8 (reduced fat) crescent rolls

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core and chop apple. Combine apple and seasoning together in a bowl. Unroll crescent dough (you can cut in half to make 16 pieces). Flatten wide edge of each roll out a little. Spoon 1 tsp of apple mixture onto each piece of dough. Roll up and seal edges with a fork so it doesn't leak out. Bake on nonstick cookie sheet until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.

Amanda's recipe is complete with healthier options (Splenda and reduced fat rolls) but I have to think that this would also be excellent with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am thankful that survivors can reach out for help any time of any day and speak to someone who is caring, compassionate and educated.

I am thankful that I get to work every day with a group of people who are passionate and committed.

I am thankful that we are all working together to get one step closer to a world where there is no sexual violence.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Gift That Keeps On Giving!

With Black Friday quickly approaching and your shopping lists growing longer and longer, there’s one item that you can cross off your lists right now – a new CRCC stainless steel water bottle!

In case you missed the Volunteer Recognition Event, or you came and were heavily participating in the activities and forgot your gift, we have stainless steel water bottles for each of you. These water bottles are truly one of a kind, and the gift that keeps on giving each time you take it with you to the gym, in the car, on the bus, to a F2F request or use it to wet your pallet during a hotline shift.

Beginning Monday, stop on by the CRCC during business hours to pick up your water bottle and say hello! When you come on in, Jeon will greet you with a smile and Elvis with a croak and you can say howdy to the rest of us as well. Plus, this one stop shopping opportunity will allow you to replenish your supply of hospital bags and CRCC literature! If you’re in a hurry and unable to park your car, but you really want your water bottle, you’re more than welcome to wait in the street and we’ll speedily deliver your water bottle to you.

Thanks for all that you do! Come and get your CRCC stainless steel water bottle while supplies last!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving's Toughest Questions

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is almost here?! Two very important questions come to mind with Thanksgiving right around the corner, and we all want to know your answers to these critical questions.

Which do you prefer – the turkey or the side dishes?

On Black Friday, what stores will you be shopping in?

It’s only fair that since I’m asking these questions, I also answer them. If truth be told, I’m a side dish kind of person. There’s nothing better than stuffing, mashed tators, corn, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie and a big Pillsbury dinner roll. Although, I do love cold turkey sandwiches on rye bread with mayonnaise, salt and pepper the next day.

Come Black Friday, you won’t find me in a store at 4am. I enjoy looking at the store ads the day before to see what’s on sale, but I’d rather be relaxed when shopping. If I do go to stores on Black Friday, it’s mostly for the people watching opportunities!

Can't wait to hear your answers to two of Thanksgiving's toughest questions! Hope all of you have safe, relaxing and enjoyable Turkey Days!

Thanks for all that you continue to do!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Massage Therapists

The Volunteer Appreciation Event this year featured 2 wonderful massage therapists. I heard that the massages were wonderful and therapeutic. Annie also led a yoga experience focused on skills you could use while sitting down or on a hotline call which got rave reviews.

I want to thank them again for the great job that they did and for also donating their time and helping out completely free of charge.

And I want to pass along their contact information so that you knew who to call when you needed another dose of relaxation!

Annie Siegel

Dave Burrington

Friday, November 20, 2009

From a Fellow Advocate

from Shari Weir, Hotline Advocate since Winter 2004

Hello, Advocates, It was good to see the following editorial about proposed federal legislation intended to address the huge backlog of untested rape kits. Now let's hope that this promising bill won't get endlessly bogged down in Congress.

New York Times
November 14, 2009

A promising bipartisan bill introduced this week in the Senate addresses a stubborn scandal: the enormous backlog of untested rape kits, which contain the physical evidence obtained from sexual assault victims.

In 2004, Congress provided grant money for prompt DNA analysis of this evidence, but the problem persists.

There is no firm national count of the number of untested rape kits. But last March, Human Rights Watch found more than 12,500 untested rape kits in the Los Angeles area alone. The Houston Police Department recently found at least 4,000 untested rape kits in storage. Detroit’s backlog may be as high as 10,000 untested kits.

This week, the National Institute of Justice, a research arm of the Justice Department, released the results of a survey of more than 2,000 state and local law enforcement agencies, including troubling confirmation of languishing rape case evidence. In 18 percent of open, unsolved rape cases, forensic evidence had not been submitted to a crime lab.

This is a huge insult to rape victims, who submit to a lengthy and intrusive process to have the DNA evidence harvested from their bodies. It is also an inexcusable loss for law enforcement and justice. Testing of a rape kit can identify an assailant, corroborate the victim’s account of an assault, exonerate innocent defendants and help prevent a habitual offender from striking again. New York City’s practice of testing every rape kit has paid off in a 70 percent arrest rate for rape that is three times the national average.

The Senate bill would increase the number of trained personnel and further encourage lagging jurisdictions to routinely send all rape kits to crime labs. By requiring annual reporting of backlogs, it would increase pressure on states and localities to clean up their act.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary Committee chairman, has long expressed concern about the backlog. He now needs to carve out time in the committee’s crowded agenda to move this legislation forward. Some national problems are highly complex and defy workable, bipartisan solutions. Ending the rape kit backlog is not one of them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Volunteer Appreciation Event - Lucky Basket Winners!

I know that I owe all of you faithful Advocates and readers a summary of the Volunteer Appreciation Event on Monday. The event was absolutely fantabulous and so it deserves a fantabulous posting with all the details and pictures. Fantabulous postings take time. Please bear with me!

In the mean time, I am excited to report the winners of the two raffle baskets and the prize for best potluck contribution. And they are ...

Winner of the Energy Boost Basket

Clarice Williams - Clarice takes a ton of hotline shifts and I'm hoping these items from Bath and Body Works will give her the energy she needs to pick up even more shifts. If it works, you can all shortly expect to receive your own energy gift baskets!

Winner of the Stress Relief Basket

Christine LaSalvia - Christine has a very challenging job and a baby on the way so I'm sure she'll make great use of all these items to relax and unwind!

And the Winner of the Best Potluck Contribution

Amanda Maggiotto - Amanda wow-ed us all with her cinnamon apples wrapped in puff pastry. I'll try and see if I can get the recipe from her and will pass it along - it's definitely worth sharing! Thanks, Amanda!

And we also gave away 20 Cavs tickets at the event for Tuesday's game. I hope everyone who got the tickets had a great time - you obviously did a great job of cheering the team along to a victory.

Remember, stay tuned for a fantabulous round-up of the 2009 Volunteer Appreciation Event!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The movie "Precious" has been receiving a lot of buzz. Coming to the Cedar Lee theater this weekend, we're looking for a few Advocates interested in seeing the movie and offering us their responses and reactions to the movie.

Set in Harlem in 1987, its it the story of Claireece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a sixteen-year-old African-American girl born into a life no one would want. She's pregnant for the second time by her absent father; at home, she must wait hand and good on her mother (Mo'Nique), a poisonously angry woman who abuses her emotionally and physically. School is a place of chaos, and Precious has reached the ninth grade with good marks and an awful secret: she can neither read nor write.

Precious may sometimes be down, but she is never out. Beneath her impassive expression is a watchful, curious young woman with an inchoate but unshakable sense that other possibilities exist for her. Threatened with expulsion, Precious is offered the chance to transfer to an alternative school, Each One/Teach One. Precious doesn't know the meaning of "alternative," but her instincts tell her this is the chance she has been waiting for. In the literacy workshop taught by the patient yet firm Mrs. Rain (Paula Patton), Precious begins a journey that will lead her from darkness, pain and powerlessness to light, love and self-determination.

The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Hosts a Community Forum in the Mt. Pleasant Community

from Teresa Matthews, Manager of Advocacy Services

The CRCC hosted a community forum at the MT. Pleasant library on November 10, 2009 to offer services and have a dialogue for people affected by the heinous acts of Anthony Sowell. The CRCC was grateful for the support of community partners such as the Women’s Center of Cleveland, Hitchcock Center for Women, SAFY, and the Cleveland Municipal School District who also participated in the forum. There were approximately 35 people in attendance.

Some of the topics raised by the audience where:
- Why does Cleveland not have a missing person bureau?
- Why does it take so long to investigate a case?
- If clients are referred to our agency how long does it take for services to start?
- Is CRCC is in Cleveland schools to provide prevention education to students?
- Service providers addressed the topics of substance abuse and mental illness and the resources available to the community.

The overall consensus of the audience was that our society needs to become one that will believe survivors of sexual assault regardless of that person’s lifestyle or the choices they make. No one deserves to be a victim on rape and not be believed or supported.

In October the Justice System Advocacy department has made it even easier for survivors to connect with an Advocate by starting a referral process with Cleveland Police Sex Crimes Unit. We have also started back doing roll calls where we are meeting with all police departments to explain CRCC services and the dynamics of sexual assault.

Through these efforts and continuously working with other social service agencies we hope that survivors of sexual assault will feel supported through the healing process as well as the criminal justice system process.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

For Staff, Interns and Volunteers - What we have done together

from Megan O'Bryan, Executive Director

How Cleveland Rape Crisis Center’s Team has Supported Survivors and Community in Response to Imperial Avenue Tragedy

As the deeply disturbing tragedy on Imperial Avenue has unfolded over the past two and a half weeks, all of us at Cleveland Rape Crisis Center have experienced sadness, disbelief, anger and grief. This tragedy is multi-layered with issues of gender, race, addiction and class linked to the tragic deaths so many women in our community. I know we have all struggled to process this horrible event and have all relied upon and supported one another in many ways.

While the media and others focus on the sensational nature of the story, and seek to place blame on someone or something, the Center seeks ways to RESPOND and SUPPORT. In just two weeks we have rallied our resources in almost countless ways.

To provide services to the Mt. Pleasant community to help them process this violence against women in their neighborhood we held an outstanding Community Forum attended by a diverse audience of 60 people on November 10 at the Mt. Pleasant branch of Cleveland Public Library. What struck me was the repeated and heartfelt “thanks” that was spoken to Cleveland Rape Crisis Center for offering a safe and supportive space to discuss sexual violence and all issues concerning the tragedy. We made many outstanding connections with other agencies serving women and the neighborhood. We facilitated a tough dialogue and so many of our staff and interns were there to support the effort.

Almost immediately following the breaking news, we arranged for an office space for therapy at the Mt. Pleasant location of the Murtis-Taylor Multi-Service Center to serve victims who may have survived an attack by Sowell or any rape survivor in the neighborhood. This collaboration will help us meet victims in their own community within a familiar agency. We are also planning groups in the women’s jail and within practically every women’s residential treatment facility in the city. Through these new programs, we will be putting stimulus funds to critical use, and will try to reach at-risk and vulnerable populations like those targeted by Sowell.

CRCC’s response to media has been almost nonstop since our Op-Ed ran in the Forum Section of The Plain Dealer on November 6. We advocated for the Op-Ed because we were concerned that media coverage was leading to some victim-blaming and was not focusing on this as a gender-targeted crime. We were concerned about news reports reiterating common rape myths to the public. Our phones were relatively silent until the Op-Ed was published. Since then, we have done literally dozens of interviews highlighting why victims might not report or cooperate, what resources exist for all survivors (including the hotline), and the prevalence of rape in our culture.

Yesterday we set up the crisis line that is intended solely for victims who may have survived a rape by Sowell. This crisis line was a result of law enforcement’s concern that there are more victims, but who might be fearful of police. We are using a separate line versus the hotline for reasons including a direct link to a therapist.

Our media response has been very challenging, as we need to maintain a fine balance between advocating for social change without placing blame on someone or something as the media would like. It has been very hard, heartbreaking in fact, to hear reports of victims not taken seriously or deemed “not credible.” But, we simply do not know all the facts. What we do know is that we have tirelessly worked with law enforcement over the years and maintain a strong partnership and relationship built on mutual respect. While we have many questions and wish this tragedy could have been prevented, we know we cannot blame one person or thing when it is our entire society that needs to shift and change.

Our response so far to Imperial Avenue has hugely been a team effort, touched and supported by every program and person at the Center. This has required a lot from all of us; staff, interns and volunteers. We have gone above and beyond our regular duties and have been extremely flexible as we jumped to create new programs, answered increased hotline calls, helped clients who have been re-traumatized by the coverage, and maneuvered many TV cameras coming through our space.

I am writing this because I am really proud of the teamwork that has taken place out of care and concern for survivors. I am also writing this because I recognize this has been hectic, sad, disruptive and plain hard work for the entire Center team. I encourage everyone to participate in self-care, and to find ways to separate from this story if you can. Please come and see me if you need help doing that, or if you need to talk about anything related to Imperial Avenue and our response.

Thank you for displaying the flexibility to work and volunteer at a “crisis center” and stay tuned.

International Association of Forensic Nurses - Ohio Chapter Meeting

from Kate Sass, F2F Advocate

On Friday, November 13, 2009, I was given the wonderful opportunity of attending the “We’re Talkin Teens” Forensic Nursing Educational Conference that was held in Akron, Ohio.

Law Enforcement, Forensic Nurses, Advocates, Educators and Physicians from around the state discussed the challenges, peer pressures and experiences that adolescents are exposed to in today’s society. When learning about the “adolescent experience,” presenters provided ways in which all of us in helping professions can better communicate with teens to more fully understand their individual needs.

I was reminded that as Advocates, we may not always know what to say to those we are helping in the hospitals, at the police stations or over the hotline. When appropriately used, phrases that can assist in dialoging with survivors include the following:

“Help me to understand …”
“How can I best help you…”
“This may be hard for you to talk about…”
“What is it that you need from me…

As a gentle reminder, silence is okay during conversations. Survivors may not remember what an Advocate said, but survivors will remember the Advocate’s comforting presence and support for years to come.

Additional conference presentations included Trafficking of Minors, GLBTQ Issues Within The Teen Population, and Teen Dating Violence and Adolescent Offenders. If you are interested in learning about these topics and the information presented, the conference PowerPoint presentations can be found on the website for the Ohio Chapter of the International Association of Forensic Nursing –

Monday, November 16, 2009

A plea to the unknown victims: Call 216-339-9664 if you survived Imperial Avenue attack

from Connie Schultz of the Cleveland Plain Dealer

There are more of you.

Cleveland police are certain of it.

So is the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Many of the residents in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood are sure of it, too.

They say there are more of you women out there who knew Anthony Sowell. You were beaten and probably raped at his home on Imperial Avenue. You have been terrorized by the memory ever since. But you are terrified to say so.

Maybe the Imperial Avenue killer lured you into his home with promises of drugs or booze, told you he thought you were pretty and deserved a good time. Maybe for a few moments you thought this smooth-talking guy willing to look you in the eye would give you shelter from a scary world. So, you trusted him enough to enter his home.

Miraculously, you were one of the women who got out alive.

And that's the point: You are alive.

But if you are haunted by what happened to you, you are not free from his Hell. He does not deserve to hold you captive any longer.

There are people who want to help you.

Some of them love you even if they've lost all hope of reaching you. Others, though, can't bring themselves to stop trying. They are your parents, your sisters and brothers, your grandparents, your cousins and your children. They are your childhood girlfriends who tell me they used to sit on the grass with you, look up at the same sky and wonder what miracles God might bring into your lives if you just prayed hard enough.

They know you've changed, but they know your heart, too. They love you more than you love yourself. They miss you, but they have no idea how to reach you.

There are also people you don't know who want to help you. They are trained professionals who wish to join you in driving out those demons in your life -- or in your head -- that lie to you and tell you that because you've made some mistakes in your life, you just aren't worth the effort anymore.

There are small mistakes and large mistakes, but the only too-big mistakes are the ones we don't survive.

You are alive.

I repeat: You are alive.

You are worth every effort to free yourself from the nightmare that has been your life since the moment you met the Imperial Avenue killer. And you don't have to do this hard work alone.
I'm not asking you to go to the police. Not now. Maybe not ever. You may have mistakes in your past that make it impossible for you to trust the police. Officials tell me they're working on ways that may make it possible for you to bring charges against Anthony Sowell without your being prosecuted for any outstanding crimes charged against you. So far, there are no guarantees, and so I am not encouraging you to go to the police.

What I am asking of you, and those who love you, is to call a special number that has been set up just for you at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Here is the number: 216-339-9664.

Starting at 9 a.m. today, there will be a licensed therapist answering the phone 24 hours a day for anyone who may have been a victim of the Imperial Avenue strangler or similar attackers.
Your call will be confidential. That is a promise. No one will call the police if you call this number for help. These counselors believe, as do I, that the police want to put away your rapist forever. But right now, the counselors are putting their faith in you.

They want to help you get back your life, to give you options and the power to decide what is best for you. They have hired additional staff, too, and set up a special site in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood so that you don't have to travel downtown for help.

Again, here is the number: 216-339-9664.

The center's director, Megan O'Bryan, told me over the weekend, "We should have done this sooner."

There is a long list of such apologies, and it includes mine. There are many, many people right now trying to figure out how we could have helped our sisters in Cleveland. As mistakes go, this is a horrific one, and it is ours, not yours.

It is not your fault that you were lured into a false sense of security and attacked. It is not your fault that you trusted Anthony Sowell or any other man like him.

No woman -- not one -- deserves to be abused, raped or murdered.

"If we want to point an immediate finger of blame for these crimes, it's the perpetrator," O'Bryan told me. "If we want to have a higher level of conversation, all of us own it."
At least 11 women met the Imperial Avenue killer and never lived to tell what happened next.

You escaped.

But as long as your fear keeps you hurting, hidden and silent, you are not free.

Please call: 216-339-9664.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ask Not What….Those Famous Words and You

from Jeon Francis, Office Manager

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.” Those famous words are still very relevant today as when they were first spoken by President John F. Kennedy at his 1960 inauguration and heard around the world.

Throughout history entertainers, politicians, religious leaders, and ordinary citizens alike have put personal agendas aside to help better humanity for their own generation and future generations. Over the years many with celebrity status have lent their name, money, and service to a variety of worthy causes, Ella Fitzgerald (singer) – March of Dimes; Agatha Christie (author) – British Red Cross; President Jimmy Carter - Habitat for Humanity; Annie Lennox (singer) – Greenpeace; Brad Pitt (actor) – UNICEF; George Clooney (actor) – United Way; and Queen Latifah (singer & actor) – Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of America to name a few.

In addition to volunteering, other celebrities have taken their commitment to service a step further and have established foundations, organizations and public service awards. In March 2002, Bono of U2 and others teamed up to create a new advocacy organization called DATA (debt, AIDS, trade, Africa) whose mission it is to fight against the extreme poverty in Africa.

Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy co-founded the Jefferson Awards, a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. They began in 1972 to create a Nobel Prize for public service. Today, their primary purpose is to serve as a "Call to Action for Volunteers" in local communities.

Other celebrity founders and co-founders include the Bill & Melinda Gates - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (; Madonna – Raising Malawi (; and Oprah Winfrey - Oprah’s Angel Network (

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. ~Oscar Wilde
Great or small, the contribution of your time or other resources matter. The Center began 35 years ago as just an idea, with no budget, but with a solid group of volunteers. Those volunteers as well as the ones who followed, which include you, helped pave the way for what the Center is today.

Whether you are a hotline volunteer that frequently covers Saturday overnight shifts or an event helper that occasionally comes out to assist with various tasks, we recognize your contribution and thank you for all that you do for us, and, in the bigger picture, the community at large.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Volunteer Appreciation Event - Amazing Give Aways!

We've already given you several great reasons to attend the Volunteer Appreciation Event - beautiful invitations, amazing water bottle favors, relaxing activities, free parking, lots and lots of food, convenient location and, of course, great company!

But just in case those weren't enough, here's a few more ...

Two amazing gift baskets from Bath and Body Works will be raffled off to 2 attendees. These are great items - and totally in keeping with the theme of "Relax. Rejuvenate. Restore." The first is a stress relief basket that has bubble bath, body lotion, pillow mist and a candle all with the relaxing scent of eucalyptus spearmint. Since this basket has been in my office for a few days, I can tell you the scent is amazing!

The second basket is designed to give you an energy boost - and who doesn't need a bit more energy?! That one also has bubble bath, body lotion and an aromatherapy bottle scented with orange ginger and gauranteed to give you a jolt healthier than a can of Red Bull!

We also have another very special gift basket and this one will be awarded to the volunteer who brings the best contribution to the potluck (we decided on a ballot system, although I was personally willing to extensively sample each entry). This basket is from Hummingbird Creations and was donated from the local woman who makes these natural and homeopathic items by hand. It features soap, face scrub, shampoo, eye cream, bath teas and more. It's been tough to keep my hands off this one!

And, last but not least, we will have 20 free Cavs tickets to give away. First come first serve. Yes. That's right. They are Cavs tickets that are $0. Actually, it's even better than that because they come with a $5 coupon for food. The tickets are good for Tuesday's evening game (11/17). Amazing, right?

I see LeBron saying to Shaq, "I sure wish we would've been invited to the CRCC Volunteer Appreciation Event." Shaq clearly agrees.
See you on Monday!!