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!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

"The Johanna Orozco Story" Airs tonight on 20/20 at 10pm

Dear Friends,

Over the past few years, the Domestic Violence Center has been working with Johanna Orozco, who as many of you know, was the victim of a shotgun attack by a former boyfriend.

Since this incident, Johanna has worked to turn her tragedy into a way to educate others. Johanna speaks at schools raising awareness of teen dating violence and abuse among students. She has also participated in many DVC events and has been working to get a bill passed that will help protect other teenagers who are situations similar to the one she was in. Johanna has continued to be an inspiration to the DVC staff, clients, and the entire community.

Domestic Violence Center has been working with 20/20 in New York for one of their feature stories: The Johanna Orozco Story, which will air tonight, 11.13.09 at 10pm.

If you have a chance to tune in, please do! Johanna is an amazing woman and has a truly incredible story.

Lizzie Ackerman
Community Relations Specialist
Domestic Violence Center
Direct Dial: 216.688.7229

Volunteer Appreciation Event - 3 days to go!

It's hard for me to believe, but the 2009 Volunteer Appreciation Event is just three days away! I can't wait for the chance to meet many of you fabulous Advocates and enjoy some relaxing activities together. As a reminder, the event will be taking place at the CRCC's new office, and here are the details:

CRCC Volunteer Appreciation Event
Monday, November 16, 2009

We've planned the event to be open house style, so feel free to drop by whenever you are able and stay as long as you wish. The optional relaxing activities we have planned will be ongoing throughout the night, so whenever you arrive, there will be something fun to take part in as you sample tasty potluck creations and enjoy the marvelous company.

Additionally, we are thrilled to be able to offer you FREE parking for this event, at the following location:

National City Center Garage
750 Vincent Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44114

Walking Directions:
1. Exit the garage and walk left onto Vincent Avenue
2. Vincent will dead end into East 6th Street
3. Make a right onto East 6th Street
4. The Leader Building will be on the corner of E. 6th Street and Superior Ave.
5. Enter through the East 6th Street entrance

Once you arrive at the Center, we will be handing out Parking Vouchers. Turn your voucher in to the attendant when you leave the garage and there will be no charge!

Again, I know that the rest of the staff here at the CRCC share my excitement in hosting you all for this great event at the Center. I look forward to seeing you and sampling any tasty treats you may bring on Monday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Volunteer Appreciation Event - Spilling the Beans

So I wanted to keep the favors for this year's Volunteer Appreciation Event a surprise. But who am I kidding?! I'm terrible with secrets. I learn something and it's out of my mouth faster than you can say, "Cousin Amy is dropping out of college".

See. I told you. Sorry, cousin Amy.

Anyway, these favors are so much more fabulous than I even hoped they would be that I quickly ran around the office and held them underneath the noses of all the staff. But sadly, the staff won't be getting them so their level of excitement was understandably a bit underwhelming.

So I have been sharing the excitement with the Kates and I just have to spill the beans and blab the secret. The favors for this year's Volunteer Appreciation Event are ... drum roll please ...

So are you jumping around now too? Are you dying to spread the gossip just like me?!

These are water bottles that are not only beautiful but stainless steel and BPE free so they're a safe and green way to stay hydrated and stylish! And they have the CRCC name and logo and "volunteer" along one side!

We'll see you on the 16th when you can pick up one of your very own!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Volunteer Appreciation Event - Just 5 Days Away

Make a night of it!
Still not sure if you're going to be able to make it to the Volunteer Appreciation Event (VAE) on Monday? Well here's some more info that will make you demand your boss give you the night off and that your friends and significant other clear their schedules!

As you know, parking is being paid for by the CRCC for the event. That's free downtown parking! That never happens! It's more rare than a week without any e-mails from me! Or a winning season for the Browns. So take advantage of it! We're walking distance from E. 4th Street - where you can definitely find something to enjoy!

The Browns are playing Monday Night Football against the Ravens. Stop by the VAE to load up on some yummies and get those shoulders rubbed before heading over to watch the game (and get those shoulders all tense again!) at Flannerys and drown your sorrow with a pint!

Not a football fan? Swing by Lola, Michael Symon's restaurant, to check out the atmosphere and the local place that's received international attention! (If Michael Symon happens to be there, please get me his autograph. I'm overly impressed with anyone who's been on TV!).
Going to be with a group of friends? Try The Corner Alley where you can bowl in shoes that are much more stylish (and sanitary) than the usual bowling rentals, play pool, throw some darts, or check out what's on any of their bazillion TV sets!

Got some work you need to take care of? The Erie Island Coffee Company will keep you caffeinated and you can finish those pesky assignments with a great view of all that's going on.

So, we want you to have a great time at our event but we want you to enjoy the entire evening! Join us at the new office and make a night of it!

From a Fellow Advocate

from Brian Kozina, Hotline and F2F Advocate since Fall 2008

When I hear about stories like this, my heart really goes out to people involved.

My grandmother died on Christmas in 2006, and made it very clear to us that under no circumstances were we ever to treat Christmas as anything less than special. My mother also has cancer. She is currently in remission, but the unthinkable could happen faster than I think, and because of this, every Christmas with her is a blessing.

I hope you'll all read over this and then send a card. You can make Christmas unforgettable for a 5 year old boy you've never met.

Title: Cards for Noah

Noah Biorkman is a 5 year old boy who is in the final stages of a battle with Neuroblastoma (a form of cancer). He was originally diagnosed in February 2007. He went into remission but the cancer returned stronger in August 2008 and despite multiple attempts at treatment, it continues to spread.

Noah is in the end stages of life, and his family is celebrating Christmas early since he may not live until December 25th.

Noah loves Christmas cards. I think we should all send him one.Diana (Noah's mother) is asking that anyone who is able, send $1 in a card to the family and they will donate it to the University Of Michigan neuroblastoma research center and the Michigan Make A Wish Chapter.

Cards can be sent to:
Noah Biorkman
1141 Fountain View Circle
South Lyon, MI, 48178

Let's show some love to Noah and his family and make this the best Christmas they've ever seen.

For more information, click here:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Volunteer Appreciation Event - Just 6 Days to Go!

As I'm sure you've noticed by now, the theme for this year's Volunteer Appreciation Event is self-care. In the role of Advocate on the hotline and on face-to-face calls, you are each helping and giving of yourself to another - and now we want to give back to you!

One part of the "giving back" we hope to do involves building up your toolkit of relaxing and stress relieving techniques, and with that in mind, we have invited Annie Siegel, a local massage therapist, to provide you with rejuvenating chair massages at the event. I know I am really looking forward to it!

We also want to provide you with tips you can use at home and even while you're on the hotline. So with the thought of a tension-relieving chair massage in your mind, take a look at some of these helpful massage tips you can use all on your own, whether to get yourself in the mindset for your upcoming shift or to care for yourself after a difficult call.

Massage Therapy to Relieve Tired Eyes
1. Close your eyes. Place your thumbs under your eyebrows, starting at
the inside corner of each eye socket. Press and gently move the thumbs in tiny circles, working slowly towards the outsides of your eyebrows and continuing
this movement all around your eyes, ending back at the bridge of your nose.
2. Repeat this several times, spending a little extra time at the indentation
of the inner eye socket, where the bridge of the nose meets the ridge of the eyebrows - an especially tender point on many people.

Massage Therapy to Ease Headaches and Tension

1. Start by placing your thumbs on your cheekbones close to your ears, and use your fingertips to gently apply pressure and rub the temples (the soft spot between the corner of your eye and your ear).
2. Using very firm pressure and a tiny circular motion, gradually move your fingers up along your hairline until they meet in the middle of your forehead, massaging your entire forehead and scalp as you inch along.

Massage Therapy to Relieve Neck Tension

1. Mold your hands over your shoulders. Exhale, letting your head drop back as you slowly squeeze your fingers towards your palms, gliding up the muscles of your back and shoulders towards your neck.
2. Now, rest your elbows on your desk, allowing your head to drop forward slightly. Massage your neck from your shoulders to the base of your skull using your fingertips to make small deep circles into the muscles on either side of your spine.
3. Place both hands on the back of your head, interlacing the fingers. Drop your head forward and allow the weight of your elbows to pull your head gently down, stretching the muscles of your neck and those that run down your back.

Give these a try now or on your next shift, and let us know how it goes by commenting below! Be sure to check out the full article from WebMD as well, for additional massage techniques to try out.

Now that you're feeling relaxed and ready to go, I hope you're that much more enthused about the Appreciation Event next Monday. Can't wait to get your RSVP and see you there!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Volunteer Appreciation Event - Just 7 Days Away!

from Kate Sass, F2F Advocate

I hope that all of you are super-excited about the approaching Volunteer Recognition Event! I am very much looking forward to the evening of relaxation that’s just one short week away, and I can’t wait to meet all of you!

As you’ve probably noticed from the invitation, the event is a potluck. If you’re a potluck fan like I am, potlucks are always a great way to either gather new recipes, or eat foods that you want to get the recipe for but feel you’d have little success making yourself.

I come from a big Polish/Slovak family who religiously find reasons to have a party and eat a lot, and we’re pretty much the party people who are always bringing the sausage, kraut and pierogies to everything. Don’t worry - I won’t be bringing any of those foods to the Recognition Event - I’m actually planning on bringing a big pasta salad with lots of cheese and veggies in it.

Have you decided what potluck creation you’re going to bring on Monday the 16th? I’m sure it’ll be a crowd-pleaser! And for those of you thinking about going the potluck-route of bringing beverages – we have it covered! We’re going to have soda-pop, water, beer and wine!

Imperial Avenue murders raise awareness of sexual violence against women

from on Saturday, November 7th

CLEVELAND -- The community is still trying to come to terms with the gruesome murders discovered on Imperial Avenue, and one Cleveland organization is also hoping to open a dialogue about an difficult topic.

So far, all the victims in these murders have been women, and police believe suspect, Anthony Sowell preyed on vulnerable women.

In the past, Sowell was sent to prison for attempted rape. Now the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center hopes this case will raise awareness and prompt public discussion about crimes against women and that more women will come forward to report these crimes.

However, most survivors of these crimes, fail to file a police report out of fear. The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center wants to create a climate where victims of rape or sexual violence are treated with respect and dignity.

In response to the murders on Imperial Avenue, the rape crisis center will be holding a community forum about rape and sexual assault. It will be held Tuesday, November 10 at 6 p.m. at the Mt. Pleasant Branch of the Cleveland Public Library. It is located at 14000 Kinsman Rd.

For more information on the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, click here.
They also have a 24-hour hotline at (216) 619-6192.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Community Forum
about Rape and Sexual Assault
for those directly or indirectly impacted by Anthony Sowell case

Tuesday, November 10
6:00 p.m.

Mt. Pleasant Branch, Cleveland Public Library
14000 Kinsman Road

Ask someone who knows.
Talk to someone who cares.
Learn about resources available to you, including
Justice System Advocacy and Counseling.

Hosted by Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
24-hour hotline

Op-Ed from the Plain Dealer's Forum section Today

November 5, 2009
To the Editor,

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center is extremely saddened and outraged by the tragic and violent deaths of so many women discovered on convicted rapist Anthony Sowell’s property in Cleveland’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood. We recognize the tremendous suffering that so many are experiencing, especially those who survived being raped by Sowell and the families of women who are missing. This gruesome incident raises some critical questions and issues about violence against women that must be part of the local and national dialogue surrounding this case.

Where was the public outcry when that many women became missing in and around one inner-city neighborhood? How did this go virtually unnoticed until recently? How many more women are currently missing in our city? This case demonstrates that a segment of our population—women who are poor, black, drug-addicted and/or mentally ill—are invisible. As we grieve as a community about the loss of so many women we need to confront the reality that race and economic class are key factors directly linked to their tragic deaths.

And central to our conversations must be the fact that Sowell’s violent acts were targeted against a specific gender, women. Many recent murder cases in Cleveland have been targeted at women and were committed by men that the victims knew. Nearly all involve domestic and/or sexual violence – crimes that impact women far more proportionately than men. One in six women in the United States will be a victim of a completed or attempted rape in her lifetime. Sexual and intimate partner violence against girls and women continues at epidemic levels in our society.

Despite its prevalence, most rapes are never reported to police. The number one reason rape survivors do not report is fear - fear of not being believed, fear of retribution by the perpetrator, fear of police. This is a result of a culture where victims are often blamed for their attack, for doing drugs or being somewhere or with someone they should not. They may have had a previous negative experience with law enforcement or may not be aware of resources that are available to support them.

As appears to have happened in the Sowell case, more than 2/3 of survivors are raped by someone they know. It seems that Sowell formed a casual relationship with women before he attacked them, even convincing them to enter his home. Perpetrators often get a victim to trust or feel safe around him before he rapes. The more a victim knows the perpetrator, the harder it is for her to report, and the harder it is for others to believe her. Perpetrators understand this dynamic and leverage it.

How should we respond, as individuals and as a community, to the tragic and violent acts committed against women by Anthony Sowell?

We need to believe, support and respond to all survivors of sexual violence regardless of race, gender, class and orientation. A survivor’s “lifestyle” should never enter the conversation. We need to create a climate where all survivors’ voices will be heard and sexual and gender violence will not be tolerated.

We need to approach rape prevention in a comprehensive manner. In addition to monitoring where sex offenders live, we need to support large-scale primary prevention efforts that can shift male culture and social norms away from perpetration.

We need to advocate on the local, state and federal levels for more support for rape crisis centers and first responders like police. According to the 2008 FBI Uniform Crime Report, there was an average of 4 rapes reported every week in the City of Cleveland alone. Our Center’s hotline gets 8 calls a day and statistics show that 11% of Cuyahoga County’s residents are survivors of rape. Organizations that address and respond to sexual and intimate partner violence are overwhelmed and need more resources.

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center is deeply distressed by this violence. We seek to support the survivors of this trauma and the Mount Pleasant community. We recognize this story is extremely painful to digest, particularly for those who may have had a similar attack. We encourage anyone in need to contact the Center’s 24-hour hotline for information and support, 216-619-6192.

Megan O’Bryan is CEO Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gabrielle Union Comments on Gang Rape at School Dance

So, I have to admit that I have been known to check out the celebrity gossip site from time to time. Now admit that you have to!
Rarely is there anything enlightening or encouraging on the site, however, I came across this yesterday and thought it was definitely worth passing along. I am shocked that I found it on Perez's site but so very impressed with Gabrielle Union's statement...

In the aftermath of the unfathomable gang rape in Richmond, Gabrielle Union became outraged and disgusted by the lack of seriousness dedicated to the issue. As a result, she offered her own experience on the subject.

She said:

So as I'm on the way to shoot Chelsea Lately…I'm sad more than anything.
After googling the gang rape story in Richmond and reading comments on blogs, it
just leaves me sickened and really sad. The fact that race and socio-economics
have been used to explain away a brutal gang rape…just sad…maybe I just have
seen every kind of rapist and survivor….every race, color, religion, socio-economic status group…it's all the same…a lack of regard for violence against women. Tolerated, and in this case encouraged by the mob surrounding the perps…laughing, joking and taking pics.

When I was 19 years old, I was raped. I was working at a shoe store in California, and the store was robbed. The person robbing the store ended up putting a gun to my head and raping me. As he was raping me, I felt as though I was floating over myself, thinking, 'This isn't happening.' I blanked out and had an out-of-body experience, like I was hovering above seeing this ­horrible thing happen to someone else…not me. I was fortunate enough to go the UCLA rape crisis center after this horrific ordeal. It gave me my life back. My dignity and self-esteem were gone and they helped me find them again. That’s why I now lobby for state legislatures across the country and the federal government to help raise funds and awareness for rape crisis centers, and I speak to all different kinds of people across the country about what happened to me. My goal is to never hear the words ‘me too’ from someone after I say ‘I was raped.’


Wednesday, November 4, 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, November 17th
830pm – 10pm
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

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Relax. Rejuvenate. Restore.

Well, you've all been very patient and I thank you heartily for that.

But it's been announced and now it less than 2 weeks away!

And the wait will definitely be worth it!

The 2009 Volunteer Appreciation Event

I hope you've all received the gorgeous, original, quality, hand-made invitations (guess who was responsible for the invites?!) but in case you missed it, check it out below!

Now, revive yourselves and get on the phone or send a quick e-mail to let Kate Rose-Brissette know you'll be there!

This year's event is twofold. You'll get to check out the fabulous new office and tour the hallowed - and colorful - halls of the new CRCC and meet with our newest staff members. We'll also be addressing the importance of self-care. You've all been working harder than ever with plates that are increasingly more full and we want to thank you by providing you not just with a night of restorative activities but with ideas and techniques you can take home.

So scroll up and take another look at that beautiful invite - or pull out the one you got in the mail and have already framed - and let Kate R-B know we can expect you!

Monday, November 2, 2009

CRCC Offers Empathy for Victims, Perspective for Community about Anthony Sowell Case

Dear Friends:

Halloween weekend came with the grim news that the bodies of six murdered women were found in the home of convicted rapist and registered sex offender Anthony Sowell in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side. Advocates at Cleveland Rape Crisis Center join the community in expressing our empathy to the victims who survived, and sympathy to the friends and families of those who have been lost. We recognize the tremendous suffering that so many are experiencing.

We are also asking many of the same questions that you are: Where was the public outcry when many women became missing from one inner-city neighborhood? Why weren’t charges filed in 2008 when a victim reported that Sowell, a convicted rapist, raped again? Why did it take a month to investigate a second rape report against Sowell made on September 22, 2009? Where is the balance between a criminal’s rights, a victim’s rights and a community’s need to get a violent criminal off the streets?

The answers are complex and we understand that there may be legitimate reasons why some of these things happened. As more information becomes available about this tragedy, we hope the following observations become part of the public dialogue surrounding this case:

The Cleveland Police Department Sex Crimes Unit is under-resourced.

A recent conversation with our peers in Milwaukee revealed that there are nearly 4 times as many detectives in Milwaukee’s special victims unit as opposed to Cleveland’s sex crimes unit, which also handles child abuse cases. We often listen to our clients’ frustration about how much time can lapse before a case can be investigated. We respect the work of our local detectives and share in their frustration at their overwhelming caseloads.

According to the 2008 FBI Uniform Crime Report, there were 4 rapes reported every week in the City of Cleveland alone. We know there are far, far more that are never reported to law enforcement. We need more resources dedicated to preventing and responding to sexual assault. The needs are overwhelming.

These crimes were targeted against one gender.
Violence against women is pervasive.

Headlines about the Sowell case most often refer to the victims as “people,” which de-emphasizes that all of the victims are female. This is a blatant and targeted crime against a specific gender, women.

A review of mass-murder cases in Cleveland, particularly recent cases, shows that many are targeted at women and are committed by men that the victims know. Nearly all involve domestic violence and/or sexual violence – crimes that impact women far more proportionately than men. One in six women in the United States will be a victim of a completed or attempted rape in her lifetime. Most of these incidents are never reported to police and will not be in the local news.

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center is saddened by this weekend’s news and by the suffering that all survivors of rape and sexual abuse endure. We stand committed to our vision to eradicate sexual violence from our world and, until then, remain dedicated to serving survivors of sexual violence and those who support them.

Women Leaders "SHOWER" CRCC

from Megan O'Bryan, Executive Director

Last week, an important first-time event happened in our community. Women elected officials gathered together in a bi-partisan effort to show support for each other and survivors of sexual violence.

Showing How Official Women Encourage Responsibility (S.H.O.W.E.R.) was born out of a call to action made to attendees at CRCC’s Stakeholder Breakfast in April 2009. Mayors Georgine Welo (South Euclid), Susan Renda (Moreland Hills), Deborah Sutherland (Bay Village), and Pamela Bobst (Rocky River) head the call and began organizing an event to raise support for rape victims. SHOWER’s host committee also included Mayors Eileen Patton (Fairview Park), Connie White (Gates Mills Village), Kathy Mulcahy (Orange Village), Beryl Rothschild (University Heights), and Marlene Anielski (Walton Hills Village).

The event was held October 22, 2009 at the Ritz Carlton downtown and attracted more than 30 judges, mayors, and councilwomen from east and west sides. The goal of the evening was to bring together women elected office-holders for professional camaraderie, networking, and education while supporting a critical women’s issue: sexual violence. The event was also part of Cleveland Rape Crisis Center’s 35th Anniversary year-long celebration. Attendees contributed $35 and gift cards to Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, raising more than $900 to support free, healing services for survivors.

It was an honor to be part of the first “SHOWER.” We were grateful to have the opportunity to meet, mingle and share some updates about sexual violence with women leaders and “change-makers” in our community. According to Mayor Welo, no event solely for women office holders in our county had ever taken place before. The hope is that SHOWER will continue into the future.

Historically our issue has been seen as a feminist priority. Rape crisis work has primarily “women helping women.” Over the past decade or so, the movement has embraced men’s involvement more than ever as a key strategy to preventing sexual assault and promoting gender equality. To end sexual violence we need to shift boy’s and men’s perceptions and behaviors toward girls and women. This is an effective and proven strategy that CRCC embraces, and we philosophically believe that sexual violence is a social justice and far-reaching community issue versus a “women’s issue.” However it was refreshing and extremely powerful to band together in a community of women to talk about how, together, we can make positive social and systemic change to end sexual violence.

Women can change the world in many ways. One way is to run for elected office. While women make up for 53% of the population, women represent only 24% of state legislatures across the U.S. and less than 17% percent of the United States Senate. Women policy-makers can create social change on all levels, federal, state and local. If this is of interest to you, reach out to a woman you respect who has held elected office. From the conversations I had at “SHOWER” our women office-holders want to teach, support and mentor other women who are interested in political life.