Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From a Fellow Advocate

from Sarah Kostick, Hotline and F2F Advocate since Fall 2007

This article highlights the international nature of rape and domestic violence. Culturally condoned and systematically entrenched, sexual and physical violence towards women is far too common-place in Afghan society. Complicating the development of an appropriate international response is the idea of cultural relativism, which has its place to a degree. However, we can all agree that certain behaviors cannot be justified, for any reason, through one's "culture", and the treatment of women like Shameen, in the below article, should be considered morally and legally repugnant regardless of geographic location and religious ideology.

Take Back the Night - Cancelled

I'm sorry to report that the TBTN events scheduled for October have been cancelled. Stay tuned for an even bigger and better event in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CRCC Educators - Out in the Schools!

from Sondra Miller, Director of Education, Outreach and Community Partnerships

Classroom Presentations for Middle and High School Students

School is back in session and CRCC’s prevention specialist Brian Dodyk is back in action. Brian spends his days inside middle and high school classrooms talking to teenagers and pre-teens about preventing sexual violence.

We strive to present in a high school classroom for 5 days about related topics because we know that the more we can reinforce messages about healthy relationships, the more effective we can be at preventing assaults. Sometimes a teacher can only give us 3 days and sometimes only 1 day in a classroom - and we are grateful for every opportunity to talk about this issue!

For high school students, we cover rape myths and facts; the difference between consent, coercion and assault; characteristics of healthy relationships; and what bystanders can do to prevent sexual violence. Of course, we do this in a fun, interactive way that engages students in the discussion.

The language in our middle school classrooms is tamed down a little to make sure it is age appropriate, but we cover some of the same material over the course of three days. We emphasize the differences between sexual harassment vs. flirting and the characteristics of healthy relationships.

The good news is that Brian’s schedule is already packed with requests from teachers. In the next few weeks, he’ll be visiting:

• Euclid High School
• Harding Middle School (Lakewood)
• Responsible Sexual Behavior Program at MLK HS (CMSD)
• Valley Forge HS
• Parma Sr. HS
• John Marshall HS (CMSD)
• St. Joseph Academy
• North Olmsted HS
• Independence HS
• Shaker Heights HS

Do you want to sit-in on a classroom presentation?

Guests are welcome if you’d like to observe. Let me know if you’d like to come and I can let you know when we’ll be in your neighborhood.

Can you help us open doors to new classrooms and school districts?

Don’t see your school district on this list? We’re always trying to connect with new teachers and school administrators who are interested bringing this information to their students. There is NO COST to teachers or schools, as this program is funded by the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund and Ohio Department of Health.

If you would like to know whether CRCC is presenting in your school district, contact Sondra Miller at or x 114.

If you can connect us with a teacher or school administrator to introduce this program, please let us know! Sometimes a call from a parent or concerned citizen/taxpayer in the district goes farther than a call from CRCC.

Did CRCC visit your classroom?

Let us know if you have a memory of a CRCC educator visiting your school. I grew up in a rural area where “sexual violence didn’t happen,” so I never heard presentations like these in the early 90s. I’m surprised by comments from our college student interns who did experience presentations from CRCC educators and assume that happens in every school district (I wish!).

Killing Us Softly - Part 2

Here is a follow-up to last week's post about Jean Kilbourne's Killing Us Softly. Enjoy when you have a minute!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Taking a Look at Domestic Violence

The Domestic Violence Center was kind enough to open their doors to myself and a few other staff members for a condensed training and orientation on domestic violence. It was a great refresher for me and I took away a lot of things that will be useful as we continue to deal with this topic in volunteer training.

In particular, I wanted to share with all of you a powerful clip from 20/20 that the DVC regularly uses in their training. This is disturbing video of a woman being emotionally and physically abused by her husband - her 13 year old son is actually operating the video camera and her 8 year old son witnesses the assault.

Like I said, it is disturbing so please view at your own discretion and only if you're comfortable.

I personally can't believe the woman on the tape is actually the same one being interviewed - the difference is striking. After reviewing this I had some questions and concerns about the effects of the children involved and I'm clearly not the only one. Tim Boehnlein made reference to interviews with Oprah the woman's two youngest boys gave approximately 2 years after the incident. I tracked them down and you can watch the interview with the older boy who shot the videotape as well as the interview with the younger child who witnessed this particular assault as well as almost daily abuse.

Not discussed in these examples but what we see all too often are cases of domestic violence where sex is used as a weapon and where victims are forced to have sex when they don't want to, in ways they don't consent to and sometimes with partners they don't agree to.

Both the CRCC and DVC are dealing with very upsetting and overwhelming issues but I find comfort in the fact that we're both working so hard and that we're both so willing to work together. My thanks to them for all they do!

Please share your thoughts, comments, reactions, questions ...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meet Elvis - the CRCC's Mascot!

I'd like to introduce you to Elvis, the CRCC's Mascot. Elvis is an African Clawed Frog who is actually a girl! Here is her story ...

Good fortune fell upon Elvis 11 years ago when Jeon Francis (now CRCC Office Manager) picked her from hundreds of frogs at Pets Supplies Plus in Parma. It wasn't all easy for Elvis though and her early years saw intense struggle and adversity. As a young froglet, she suffered a heart attack and was unconscious for nearly a minute when she was accidentally dropped into warm water. Later she lost her partner, another African Clawed Frog. A brief love affair with a dwarf frog only last for a few days before the Dwarf frog lept from his bowl and was later found crushed under a shoe yards away.

Things turned around for Elvis and she enjoyed several years of social theatrical bliss, beginning her “finger grabbing career” in the offices of Cleveland Public Theatre, which include the fingers of both local and national performing artists such as Eve Ensler, Tim Miller, Annie Sprinkle, Holly Hughes and others. Elvis retired for a couple of years to her owner’s home where she lived quietly among an array of plants and porcelain Asian figurines.

While in retirement, she consulted close friends Kermit the Frog and the Budweiser Frogs, and was convinced to get back into the public eye. She soon found a wonderful position at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, where she once again enjoys listening to the conversations of people at the front desk and grabbing the fingers of everyone from children to politicians.

Make sure you stop by and say hello to Elvis the next time you're in the office!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Consensual Incest - What are your thoughts?

Many of you have probably heard about Mackenzie Phillips' new book High on Arrival which was released this week and is getting a lot of attention. The book is an autobiography of Phillips' life including drug use, acting career, famous family and incestuous relationship with her father. She was on Oprah yesterday and the Today show this morning among other interviews.

I didn't see Oprah yesterday but I did read a bit and see some clips on her website. Below are some excerpts.

"I woke up that night from a blackout to find myself having sex with my own father. I don't remember how it started or, thankfully, how it ended ... Was it the first time? Had this happened before? I didn't know and don't. All I can say is that it was the first time I was aware of it. For a moment I was in my body, in that horrible truth, and then I slid back into a blackout. Your father is supposed to protect you. Your father is supposed to protect you, not f*** you."

Mackenzie says she was 17 or 18 years old the first time she remembers being raped by her father. At that time, she was known to millions as the child star of the hit sitcom One Day at a Time, but no one—not even her closest friends—knew what she was dealing with.

Soon after her rape, Mackenzie says she confronted her father. "I said, 'Look, we need to talk about how you raped me,'" she says. "And my dad said: 'Raped you? Don't you mean when we made love?' And, in that moment, I thought, 'Wow, I'm really on my own here.'"

"We're touring, and I begin waking up after drug-fueled events with my pants around my ankles and my father sleeping beside me," she says. "Again, [I thought]: 'Don't think. Don't look. Just keep going.' And this happened over time. It didn't happen every day. It didn't happen every week, but it certainly happened."

John's secret sexual relationship with his daughter lasted for 10 years. "It became a consensual relationship over time, and I know that I can't be the only one this has happened to," Mackenzie says. "Nobody's talking about this, and someone needs to put a face on not only nonconsensual incest but consensual incest, because I know it exists."

"I was old enough to know better, and, clearly from the way I talk about it in the book, I knew better," she says. "For me to try to make an excuse to justify this portion of my life would be for me to do a disservice to High on Arrival and to the people who have survived this throughout the world. I can't explain this away. It happened, and it's all in there."

What I would love to hear is what you think about her identification of what happened between her and her father initially as rape and then as a "consensual incestuous" relationship. Let us know - what is your reaction? What are your thoughts?

Self-Care: Read Any Good Books Lately?

Pile Of Books

If anyone out there is like me, when it comes to self-care a book is always a safe bet! I'll read just about anything; fiction, biographies, the classics and (yes I'll happily admit it) the Twilight series! There is always a stack of stuff on my nightstand.

So tell me, is reading something you use for self-care? Anything you want to recommend to your fellow Advocates? How about the Twilight series - anyone else read all 4 books? Anyone have the new Dan Brown? What is on your list of things to read?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Emergency Contraception for Rape Survivors

from the desk of Sondra Miller, Director of Education, Outreach and Community Partnerships

In 2007, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Foundation conducted a survey of hospitals and found that 78% of the hospitals that responded give Emergency Contraception (EC) to sexual assault survivors. Seven percent said that they do not give EC to anyone – including rape survivors, and 12 percent said it depends on the doctor.

We’d like to hear from you!

What is your experience with hospitals and emergency contraception? Have you ever witnessed a survivor being denied EC? Have you ever left an emergency room and realized that no one ever thought about EC? What reactions do you tend to get from survivors when you mention EC?

CRCC has long been advocating in Columbus and Washington DC about policies and legislation that impacts survivors of sexual violence. In Columbus, a piece of legislation will soon be introduced that would require hospitals to offer and provide emergency contraception to rape survivors. The legislation is called The Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies (CARE) Act. CRCC helped to author the bill.

We’re looking for survivors (and possibly advocates!) who might be interested in testifying before the Ohio General Assembly about the importance of offering ALL survivors EC in the emergency room. If you would like to learn more about testifying or this legislation, contact Sondra Miller at or 216-619-6194 x 114.

We’ll soon need your phone calls to encourage your elected officials to support CARE! More details to come…

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in Cleveland

from the desk of Sondra Miller, Director of Education, Outreach and Community Partnerships

CRCC educators visit K-2 classrooms throughout the school year to talk about preventing child sexual abuse. We use a storybook called “Three Kinds of Touches,” which talks about safe touches, ouch touches and uh-oh touches and what to do if someone touches them in the parts covered by their bathing suits.

Do you want to know if CRCC is presenting to your children’s classrooms? Let us know. You can help by introducing this program to a teacher or principal.

We’re also looking for a contractor for 15 hours/week to help deliver this program. Here are the details:

Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center is hiring a contractor to assist with child sexual abuse prevention programming delivered in local elementary schools, grades K-2. This contractor will be paid on an hourly basis and will be expected to contribute approximately 15 hours per week during traditional school hours through mid-December, 2009 with a possibility that the contract would be extended through spring 2010.

The ideal candidate has classroom experience in an elementary environment and has training in sexual violence prevention and/or advocacy. The program follows a pre-written, evidence-based curriculum called “Three Kinds of Touches.”

Job duties include:

Identify schools, administrators and teachers whose students could benefit from the programming.
Contact teachers, principals and school administrators via mail, phone and email to market program
Schedule presentations and coordinate logistics
Deliver program content with elementary students
Collect evaluation forms from teachers
Update statistics for grant reporting
Submit brief weekly progress reports to supervisor
Participate in training and orientation meetings as requested

Interested applicants should submit a resume and cover letter via email only to Sondra Miller at by Wednesday, September 30.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Killing Us Softly

One part of volunteer training that consistently gets high reviews and stimulates a lot of very interesting discussion is the excerpt we show from "Still Killing Us Softly" with Jean Kilbourne.

In this video, Jean uses extensive examples to look at how women are portrayed in advertising. What she finds is that everyday advertisements are insidiously perpetuating a culture where the objectification of women and the idea of rape is accepted and even expected.

Well, Jean has been hard at work and "Killing Us Softly 3" is now available. Below is a short clip - and stay tuned for weekly segments!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Men of Strength

One of the promising programs in the field of sexual violence prevention is the Men of Strength Club, developed by an organization in DC called Men Can Stop Rape. The goal is to work with young men to reduce first-time perpetration of rape.

CRCC started its first Men of Strength Club in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cleveland in the fall of 2008. Since then, we’ve facilitated 4 more clubs at various B&GC sites. This fall we’re looking to add even more clubs in Cleveland and we’re looking for men who can help.

Looking for Male Mentors!

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center seeks to hire two contractors to facilitate Men of Strength Clubs, a program started by Men Can Stop Rape for boys ages 12-18 with a goal to prevent first-time perpetration of sexual assault. Program information is available at Applicants are strongly encouraged to visit this web site before applying.

Contractors will be paid $30 per hour for up to 16 hours of training time plus 2 hours per week for up to 15 weeks in the fall 2009 and up to 15 weeks in spring 2010. This is a contract position; contractors will be responsible for applicable taxes.

Contractors will be expected to:

Attend a mandatory training on October 8 and 9, 2009 in Columbus. Mileage, hotel and meal expenses will be reimbursed by CRCC.
Co-facilitate one MOST Club in Fall 2009 and one MOST Club in Spring 2010.
Take a leadership role and personal accountability for the success and outcomes of the program.
Recruit and retain program participants.
Implement program. Facilitate discussion with pre-teen and teenage men, following curriculum designed by Men Can Stop Rape.
Collect survey/evaluation data from program participants.
Coordinate program logistics, such as refreshments and room set-up.
Communicate with program host.
Send brief, weekly, written reports to program manager.

Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume via email only by Monday, Sept 21 to Alex Leslie at

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Power of Language

If there is one thing that really infuriates me, it is the recent trend of people using the word “rape” to describe various daily annoyances, unfair treatment, or, well, anything that isn’t actually the horrific act of being sexually assaulted. Mikki Halpin from the website AlterNet really sums up the problem with misusing powerful words and “rape” in particular in her article titled:

'Increasingly, rape is used to describe experiences such as a sports loss, a poor score on a video game, or being on the losing end of a business deal. Again, these are all unpleasant experiences, but none rise to the level of what rape truly means.
Not since Alanis Morisette's ‘Isn't It Ironic’ ruled the airwaves has a word been so drained of its original value and power.

"Rape is something specific," says Michelle J. Anderson, dean of the CUNY School of Law and a former member of the board of directors and policy chairwoman for the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. "It is a deeply personal experience of humiliation and degradation. Using the term 'rape' for these experiences not only wildly misdescribes them but also removes personal violence from our understanding of rape."

The meaning of the word must maintain its integrity, Anderson argues, in order to preserve our appropriately horrified response to sexual assault. The casual use of terms like "rent rape" desensitizes us to a subject that women's rights and victims-advocates groups have fought for years to bring into the public consciousness.

"The more we dilute this word, the more we play down the power of sexual violence," says Angela Rose, founder and executive director of Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, a group devoted to education and action surrounding rape. "It actually adds to the silence surrounding this issue because it diverts attention."'
First I’d like to offer a critique of the article – I really wish the author had given the definition of rape as inclusive of all people, and not just included men as a footnote. As we all know, ANYONE can be assaulted, not just women.

However, I do think she really makes a valid argument that what may seem like a harmless joke to some can have profound effects on the way we think, our attitudes, and even our behavior.

What do you think about the points she has made in this article? Do you believe that words have as much power as she claims? What can we do as advocates educated about sexual assault to combat some of these effects? I hope we can get a lively discussion going about this topic!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Self-Care: What's on Your TV?


Sometimes nothing compares to vegging out in front of the TV after a long day or a difficult hotline shift. When you sit down in front of the television to relax, what are you tuning into?

I have a questionably healthy addiction to anything on HGTV (Home and Garden TV). Design on a Dime. Rate My Space. And my new favorite - Renovation Realities where I get to watch real people make over real homes and make real big mistakes! It makes me feel better about the projects I take on around the house ... is that bad?

How about Project Runway? Anyone following those zany clothing designers? Law & Order? House? Family Guy? SportsCenter? Animal Planet? An updated and earlier Leno? Let me know what you're programming your TiVo to record and if there's anything the rest of us shouldn't be missing!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Check it Out: Call and Response

When you have a few minutes, this is definitely worth checking out. It's great to see not only that this important work is being done to combat human slavery but also that it's being done in such an innovative way.

CALL+RESPONSE is a first of its kind feature documentary film that reveals the world’s 27 million dirtiest secrets: there are more slaves today than ever before in human history. CALL+RESPONSE goes deep undercover where slavery is thriving from the child brothels of Cambodia to the slave brick kilns of rural India to reveal that in 2007, Slave Traders made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined.

Luminaries on the issue such as Cornel West, Madeleine Albright, Daryl Hannah, Julia Ormond, Ashley Judd, Nicholas Kristof, and many other prominent political and cultural figures offer first hand account of this 21st century trade. Performances from Grammy-winning and critically acclaimed artists including Moby, Natasha Bedingfield, Cold War Kids, Matisyahu, Imogen Heap, Talib Kweli, Five For Fighting, Switchfoot, members of Nickel Creek and Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Rocco Deluca move this chilling information into inspiration for stopping it.

Music is part of the movement against human slavery. Dr. Cornel West connects the music of the American slave fields to the popular music we listen to today, and offers this connection as a rallying cry for the modern abolitionist movement currently brewing.

There is a sea of change happening in human rights activism. The world’s issues cannot be solved alone by governments and non-profits, but require community-based participation. As a feature film, CALL+RESPONSE has the unique position of being not only a ground-breaking genre-bending film, but due to the fact that this project was funded completely through donations, it operates as a powerful movement with 100% of profits going to fund global field projects on the front lines of this issue.

CALL+RESPONSE is creating interactive field projects for each aspect of human slavery: sex slavery, labor slavery, child soldiers and child slavery. All profits from the use of the film, dvd, soundtrack, itunes downloads will be directed, by the viewers, to these projects with clear start and finish points (ie a landrover for a child soldier rehab camp, sewing machines for a after-care training facility). Our goal is to fund and celebrate completed projects together in community. We are closing the loop by allowing viewers to become participants in the solution.

I'd love to get my hands on the DVD when it's released! Anyone interested in coming by for a screening?


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

-Margaret Mead

The class from Spring/Summer 2007!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

1994 – 2009: Commemorating 15 Years of the Violence Against Women Act

From OVW (the Office on Violence Against Women)

Dear Friends,
Fifteen years ago, we saw the result of the hard work of dedicated advocates throughout the nation, when landmark legislation, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), was signed into law on September 13, 1994.

And today, President Barack Obama commemorated the 15th anniversary of this historic law in a
Presidential Proclamation:

“Far too many women in our communities and neighborhoods, and across the world, continue to suffer from violence. Inspired by the promise and achievement of the Violence Against Women Act, our Nation stands united in its determination to end these crimes and help those in need.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. I call upon men and women of all ages, communities, organizations, and all levels of government, to work in collaboration to end violence against women."

Without a doubt, VAWA would never have happened without the steadfast commitment and work of the countless advocates, coalitions and community partners who worked tirelessly for this landmark legislation, and without the dedication of our Vice President, then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden, and U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch.

The VAWA recognized the severity of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking and provided federal funding to help communities in their efforts to address the needs of survivors and hold offenders accountable. In marking this historic moment, I encourage you to reflect on where we were before, before the VAWA, and where we are now.

Thirty years ago, when a law enforcement officer responded to domestic abuse, it was considered a “family matter.” Spousal rape was not a crime. Many States did not have domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, or hotlines.

Thirty years ago, programs for culturally and linguistically specific groups were unheard of. Disabled women and women in later in life were not thought to be vulnerable to abuse. We had little understanding of the dynamics of teen relationships and the potential for sexual assault and intimate partner violence. We did not recognize the co-occurrence of child maltreatment, and sexual and domestic violence nor did we understand the devastating impact of early victimization and exposure to violence.

But thirty years ago, a diverse group of advocates organized to change the way our nation thought about and responded to violence against women. It became safer for survivors to talk to one another and speak about their struggles with the justice system. Survivors and advocates talked to legislators, educated policy makers, and changed the way our nation viewed and responded to violence against women. They stressed the necessity for treating domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking as crimes, for federal legislation that would support local efforts throughout the country, and vastly change the way we as a nation responded to survivors and offenders.

It took another 15 years to enact the VAWA, but since then countless lives have been saved, the voices of survivors have been heard, and families have been protected. Practitioners in the criminal justice system better understand the complex responses needed to address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

Today we invite partners on the front lines of the movement —advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, the judiciary, and survivors—to join us in commemorating, not only 15 years of the Violence Against Women Act, but also the many years of partnership that brings us to where we are today.

In recognition of the 15th anniversary of the VAWA, OVW announces the beginning of a year-long effort to raise public awareness, to build stronger coalitions among federal, state, local and tribal communities, and to redouble our efforts to end domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking for men, women and children across the country.

I call upon all of you to continue to innovate and collaborate with the same resolute spirit of the movement we witnessed fifteen and thirty years ago. Together we will keep women and girls safe, and find lasting community-based solutions to end violence against women and girls.
You may view additional information about OVW’s plans to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act on our website: The Department of Justice and the Office on Violence Against Women mark this anniversary with a renewed sense of dedication. Please join us.

Sincerely, Catherine Pierce (Acting Director)

Some More New Faces!

I'd like to welcome our 2 new Justice System Advocates who have recently joined the CRCC team! Teresa is not alone in her excitement to welcome them!

My name is Daveda Cunningham. I received my B.A in Family & Child Development from The University of Akron. I have worked in the Social Service field for approximately 8 years. I come to The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center from Cleveland Catholic Charities as a Social Service/Parent Involvement Supervisor.

My name is Marya Simmons and I am currently attending Bryant & Stratton College for Criminal Justice. My concentration is in Cyber Investigation. I worked at Hitchcock Center for Women for three years before I began my employment here. I am enthusiastic about continuing my mission in advocating for women!

A Wrap-Up of the 35th Anniversary Luncheon - and Some Pics!

From the desk of Sarah Trimble, Director of Development

On September 9, 2009 CRCC hosted a luncheon at Windows on the River to celebrate it’s 35th Anniversary. This first time fundraiser enjoyed the company of nearly 500 people and raised over $50,000 to support the work of the Center and its fabulous volunteers!

We had a “celebrity” choir that showcased our biennial event “Sing Out! for Cleveland Rape Crisis Center” and Miss World 1998, Linor Abragil, was the keynote speaker. Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word about this event as well as everything else you do to support CRCC and those who have experienced sexual violence. We couldn’t do it without your support!

The choir warming up - these people have amazing talent! (I wasn't offered a spot ...)

Miss World speaking with a board member

Glendale Elementary School let us borrow some of their (cutest!) students for a demonstration on "No! Go! Tell!" a program they learned from a CRCC Educator

Two founding members of the CRCC - Jeanne Van Atta (center) and Lorraine Schalamon (right). We have a lot to thank them for! Jeanne is standing next to her husband - whom she met while she was working as a JSA with the CRCC and he was in the prosecutor's office!

Each table had a birthday cake reminding everyone this was a "birthday party"! There was no leftover cake (trust me, I was looking for it!).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Israeli beauty queen speaks out against rape

You may have heard that Miss World 1998, Linor Arbargil, is a survivor of sexual assault and also the keynote speaker at our 35th Anniversary luncheon last week.

The Cleveland Jewish News covered Linor's visit as well as the documentary she is working on in this article. Linor did a wonderful job speaking at the event and spent some time at our office in the days following the luncheon to interview local survivors for her documentary.

Thanks to Linor for sharing her story and raising awareness and a special thanks to those involved with the CRCC who shared their stories for her project.

The documentary is far from over but I'll let you know when I can get my hot little hands on the video!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering September 11th

Let us all find a few moments today to pause and remember the events of this tragic date - now 8 years past.

September 11th has been officially declared a National Day of Service and Rememberance.

You all do so much to serve on a daily basis. Take a look at what others are doing. And let us all remember.

Some Coverage from Channel 5

Please see below for some more great media attention from WEWS Channel 5 - a great way to increase awareness about the issue as well as our services and especially our hotline!!

There is a video if you link to their website but unfortunately I wasn't able to view it - hopefully you'll have better luck!

Domestic Violence Agencies Work To Meet Increased Demand

CLEVELAND -- The economic downturn may be contributing to an upturn in violence against women, and local women's agencies are working to meet the increased demand for their services.

Catherine Moore is a survivor, but she hasn't forgotten the violence she faced at the hands of a former boyfriend.

"Pinching, scratching and biting … he would hold me down and have sex with me when I said I didn't [want to]," Moore said.

Moore's story is not uncommon in the recovery groups at the Women's Center of Greater Cleveland.

Executive Director Mary Jane Chichester said violence against women has increased over the past few years.

At the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, calls about recent sexual assaults are up 50 percent over last summer -- not necessarily pointing to more rapes, but perhaps women are seeking help in greater numbers.

"Ninety percent of our clients are victimized by someone they know and trust," said Executive Director Megan O'Bryan.

O'Bryan said controlling behavior and isolation from friends and family are among the signs to look for.

Moore wants to see the numbers drop, and she's encouraging women to speak out.
"There's other people who can share it with you. You can make it through. You can make it though," she said.

Like Moore, counselors want the violence to stop and they're going into schools around the area to talk to students, trying to prevent problems before they happen.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, there is a 24-hour hot line you can call for help. The number is 216-619-6192.

You can also go to or

Tremont Arts Festival on Saturday and Sunday

Come out to the Tremont Arts Festival on Saturday from 11a-6p and Sunday from 12a-5p. Admission is free and there will be a lot of great things to see, watch and eat! Also be sure to stop by the CRCC table and say hello to staff and other volunteers!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Self-Care: It's Football Season!

It's already time again for the opening day of the NFL football season! Bring on Sundays full of noisy cheering, unhealthy food and minute-by-minute fantasy football updates!

Tonight the Steelers will kick off against the Titans. This Sunday the Browns welcome the Vikings and it's looking like Quinn will be heading up the hometown's squad.

Feeling a little out of touch this year? Click here to bring yourself up-to-speed about what your favorite team will be doing or which player to start on your fantasy football roster.

So tell me, how many of you find watching football a great way to relax? How many of you participate in the fantasy football madness? Any other Steelers fans out there? Or maybe you prefer to follow the college ranks? Let me hear it!

PD Coverage of Yesterday's Successful Luncheon!

Calls to Cleveland Rape Crisis Center are up 50 percent this summer, taxing services

Posted by Margaret Bernstein/Plain Dealer Reporter September 09, 2009 21:11PM

Calls into the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center are up 50 percent this summer compared with last from persons who had been sexually assaulted in the past 30 days.

The agency also saw calls for its therapy services jump by 80 percent over the same period. "We can't keep pace with demand," said Executive Director Megan O'Bryan, who shared the statistics at a Wednesday luncheon that honored the agency's 35th anniversary. "Clients in need of services often face waiting lists that are months long."

O'Bryan said increased public awareness of sexual abuse and economic factors could be responsible. "A recession could cause increased stress and that can translate into aggression within families and relationships," she said.

Also, medical and mental health cuts might be why more people want the center's free services.

The sold-out luncheon at Windows on the River, with nearly 500 attendees seated at birthday-cake-topped tables, illustrated that Cleveland's Rape Crisis Center enjoys healthy community support. An anniversary fund-raising appeal brought in $800,000 for services, including a 24-hour hot line (216-619-6192), and enabled the center to move to a bigger downtown office. The center just landed more than $500,000 in federal stimulus money to hire at least seven people to work in therapy, advocacy and crisis intervention for one to two years. "The timing couldn't be better," O'Bryan said.

Keynote speaker was Linor Abargil of Israel, Miss World of 1998 who was raped six weeks before the pageant.

She wept on stage, not as she recounted her story of being assaulted by a stranger with a knife, but as she talked about the aftermath. "Rape is so isolating. Even if you tell people what happened, they're afraid to mention it, so you're surrounded by sadness," she said.

So many survivors have the same story, said center co-founder Lorraine Schalamon, who wiped away tears. She became an activist after being raped in the early 1970s and seeing how sketchy Cleveland's services were.

"We were a small underground group just trying to get heard," recalled Schalamon, who now lives in New York. "I'm just so impressed with how the community has embraced this agency."


Don't be content in your life just to do no wrong. Be prepared every day to try and do some good.

-Sir Nicolas Winton

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NYT - Case Shows Limits of Sex Offender Alert Programs

I'm sure none of you are strangers to the horrifying case of Jaycee Dugard who was abducted from her home as a child and kept for 18 years in the backyard of a man who had prior convictions for rape and kidnapping. (click here for the back story)

Here is an article that uses this case to look at the sysem currently in place to monitor registered sex offenders. What happened to this woman never should have been allowed to happen and, in this case, more effective monitoring of a registered sex offender could have prevented or shortened her ordeal.

I think Richard Tewksbury makes an extremely important point, however, when he says in the article, "We've come to see these registeries as a panacea that is going to resolve all sex offender problems. That's just not realistic". The article goes on to detail that oftentimes those who are not compliant with the registration guidelines are more of a threat to society than those who are.

What I think the article fails to address is that the vast majority of children who are assaulted are perpetrated on by someone they know and trust who already has access to them, their household and those they care about. Sex offender registries, in these countless cases, do not protect the children.

But enough about what I think. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Compassion Fatigue

My mom shares her Oprah Magazine with me and as I was flipping through it, an article caught my eye on compassion fatigue. While the article focuses on the example of caring for an elderly or ailing parent, it is also true that compassion fatigue is a risk for CRCC Advocates. If you're interested, go ahead and check out the entire piece but what I thought was especially relevant was this sidebar by the author, Tim Jarvis:

Five Ways to Help Yourself

When you're caring for someone, practicing self-awareness and self-care can help you maintain your boundaries; this, in turn, allows you to be fully compassionate without being consumed by the other person's pain.

Mindfulness meditation - it's been shown to decrease depression and anxiety while boosting empathy.
Keeping a journal. Research suggests that reflective writing helps prevent compassion fatigue.
A daily act of self-centering: Set an alarm for noon and take four deep breaths; or when you wash your hands, sink into the experience, feeling the sensation of the water on your skin while noting, "I am worthy of my own time."
Staying connected to the outside world with at least a phone call every day. Better yet, get outside, even just to take a walk.
And don't be afraid to ask for help.

Please remember if you're experiencing any type of compassion fatigue or emotional exhaustion, my door is always open and I'm always available. Let's talk about what you're experiencing so that we can both ensure your mental health and the quality of care given to survivors.

Hollywood Reporters Annual Women In Entertainment Breakfast - Los Angeles, CA

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rachel Bilson for RAINN

I'm wondering what everyone's thoughts are on this PSA by Rachel Bilson for RAINN...

Do you think she did a good job in this role? I'm sure the statistics at the end of the piece weren't very surprising to any of you but did you think they were powerful? What about the amount of violence and the struggle portrayed in the flashbacks?

Take a look and let us know what you think!

Friday, September 4, 2009

"What You Eat Makes a Difference"

Visit the MOKO Cafe and order a salad between September 3rd and September 18th and a contribution will be made to the United Way of Greater Cleveland - a great supporter of the CRCC!

The MOKO Cafe is located at 1505 Euclid Ave - check out their website for more detailed directions or to check out their appetizing menu! (I noticed that the menu tab on the left-hand side of the page doesn't appear to be working but the "download summer menu" link underneath the picture of the sandwich will give you a look at their selections!)

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray Visits CRCC!

from Sondra Miller, Director of Education, Outreach and Community Partnerships

The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center welcomed Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to our offices today to learn more about the work we do and tour our new space. Much of CRCC’s government grant funding is designated by the federal government and funneled through the state AG’s office to CRCC.

The AG’s office also administers the Victims of Crime Compensation program. Teresa Matthews, manager of justice system advocacy at CRCC, works very closely with the AG’s office to help clients access this money.

CRCC Board Members and Staff met with Cordray to explore more ways to partner to improve services available to survivors.

From Left to Right: Peter DeMarco (CRCC Board President), Christopher Meyer (CRCC Board Member and Past President), Julie Harris (CRCC Board Immediate Past President), Attorney General Richard Cordray, Lori McClung (CRCC Board Member and Chair of the Public Policy Committee), Megan O’Bryan, (CRCC Executive Director)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Self-Care: Labor Day Weekend

Buffet food laid out on picnic blanket, outdoors

With the holiday weekend right around the corner, I'm wondering what everyone will be doing? Picnics with the family? A quick get-away before summer officially ends? Working on some projects? Packing up the white shoes and white pants until Memorial Day ...

So, let me hear it! What will you be doing this Labor Day?

Creating Recovery - Men Can Be Raped Too

As many of you are aware, our Creating Recovery Series has been very successful and has managed to reach many survivors who may not have had access or interest in our services otherwise. The series started in February with a different focus each 2-hour session every month. They have been designed for those affected by sexual assault, directly and indirectly, and who are in the early stages of healing.

The next session is:

Men can be raped too: Apprehensions and concerns surrounding male sexual assault


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

St. John West Shore Hospital - Community Outreach Center
29160 Center Ridge Rd, Suite R
Westlake, Ohio 44145

Pass the word along to someone who may be able to benefit from this great opportunity or attend yourself to increase your awareness and comfort dealing with this complex issue (RSVP to Kirsti at x118). And be sure to check out the upcoming sessions as well!

Thanks from Care Alliance

Sondra Miller, our Director of Outreach, Education and Community Partnerships, recently spoke at Care Alliance Health Center. Care Alliance is the leading provider of primary health care and comprehensive dental services to individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, living in public housing, and uninsured or underinsured. It looks like they were definitely appreciative of the information as, unfortunately, I'm sure they see survivors of sexual assault with reasonable frequency.

I'm sure you'll also join me in thanking Care Alliance for the amazing work they do as well!

Dear Ms. Miller,
On behalf of Care Alliance Health Center, I thank you for the informative presentation you gave our staff last week. I received wonderful feedback from many members of our staff, both clinical and administrative. Personally, I feel far better prepared for the next time that one of my clients confesses that he or she is the victim of an assault. Unfortunately, I have had many occasions to respond to such statements from the patients that I work with, including one man. In the past, I had recommended your organization but I was not confident that I was responding appropriately. You can imagine how empowered I feel now that I have been educated through your training.
I have advised our medical director that more intensive and detailed training can be arranged for our clinical staff. Perhaps that will be a request in the future. For now, I once again thank you for the education and your time.
Beth Boyette

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Check Out My New Office!

It's been a little over 3 months since we moved into our new office and I have to tell you the novelty has not worn out one little bit! My daily routine starts with settling into my seat, taking a look around and waiting for some very fancy and important person to come into my office and tell me I don't belong here!

I'm hoping that in the next few weeks we'll be organizing an opportunity for all of you to come down and check out the new digs. In the meantime, I thought you might like to see my new space.

Now for all of you who remember the old office, you'll recall that I was in a corner with shoddy cubicle walls and 3 office-mates. Check out the new and improved space ...
A great big desk that holds more than a phone, a can of pop and 4 pieces of paper! And I can now offer visitors a place to sit besides the window sill like in my old office!
In fact, I have so much to offer visitors we could even pull up a seat together at this fabulous teardrop table on wheels! (Yes I'm aware the plant is not looking very healthy - I'm desperately working to keep it alive!)

And while sitting in this great space we can check out the view! Or better yet pull up my desk chair, lean back and take a look at this!
So I'm sure you can see why I'm loving the new space! Stay tuned for more pics of the new office, the dates of a volunteer open house or just let me know when you'll be in the area for a visit!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jane Doe No More

This is a very interesting organization that was just brought to my attention. Donna's story is shocking and disappointing and, unfortunately, an experience many other sexual assault survivors can relate to. Congratulations and thanks to her for starting an organization to address changes that need to be made!

Jane Doe No More Inc., is born out of my experience as a victim of sexual assault. Crime is an unfortunate reality in today's society and I was unprepared for what lay ahead after the attack as, I believe, is the case with most victims. I was mistreated by the very system put in place to "protect and serve" the innocent. On top of the pain and suffering associated with the crime, the abuse afterward rendered the healing process all the more difficult.

However, through perseverance and the support of my wonderful family and friends, along with law enforcement and legal professionals who have believed in me, there has been an amazing turnaround of events. The sexual assault took place on September 11, 1993, the perpetrator was disguised, and there were no fingerprints, photographs or forensic evidence other than DNA. The law enforcement officials from Waterbury Connecticut who abused me were found negligent in a civil trial in January 2001 and through a fortunate twist of fate and brilliant detective work in 2004, the perpetrator was identified through a DNA match. I also was given the opportunity to help bring about policy and procedural changes in the Waterbury police department. The perpetrator turned out to be a repeat offender who is now in prison following his guilty plea to numerous charges in Connecticut and New York. He was sentenced in my case in October 2006.

I am Jane Doe no more; I am Donna Palomba. It is my decision to come forward to break the social stigmas associated with this misunderstood crime and help other victims heal. I believe we learn most from our greatest challenges and I want to share what I have learned. Yes, I am a victim, but I am also a survivor and I have gone on to have a wonderful life both personally and professionally and look forward to a bright future. Learn more about my story.

The JDNM team is comprised of law enforcement, medical, legal and business executives as well as victims' service professionals. We are dedicated to improving the way society responds to victims of sexual assault so that all victims of this crime will have the chance for a full and healthy recovery; thus shortening the time from crime to healing.

Find out more about this organization and Donna's mission here. Also, Dateline covered Donna's story in april of 2007 but will be airing it again this Friday (September 4, 2009) from 9:00-11:00. Catch it if you can and let us know what you think!