Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Janet Boehler Recognized in The Times

The CRCC's volunteers are achieving much-deserved notoriety left and right! This great feature ran in The Times on December 24, 2009.

Since my photo does not do the article justice, please read below!

Rape-crisis award goes to police officer
by Sali McSherry

Moreland Hills police Sgt. Janet Boehler, of South Russell, received the 2009 Overall Arete Award from the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Ms. Boehler has been active in the community as a police officer and volunteer, from coordinating Safety Town to training her dog, Colby, to be a therapy dog and more. Last year, she earned the Community Volunteer of the Year award from the Orange Federation.

Wendy Hanna, of the rape crisis center, said it was fitting for Ms. Boehler to receive the volunteer of the year award because of her commitment to the crisis center, her extraordinary ability to comfort victims and her extensive training dealing with sex crimes, victim advocacy and victim assistance programs.

As a face-to-face Advocate for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, she is on-call to meet rape survivors at the emergency room or police station.

"Every survivor is different. Some are so shocked they are silent throughout the entire process, others are so angry they can't wait to get out and find the rapist," Ms. Boehler said.

She's been active at the center since 2005. The award was given for her "strength, bravery, intelligence and passion, each working to achieve real results, for the unique and irreplaceable effectiveness" she brings to the center and for the long lasting and pervasive outcomes of her talents, according to the accolade.

"As an advocate, I am able to be with the survivor, offer her or him comfort, explain the procedure of collecting forensic evidence during the exam, answer questions about options available legally to the survivor and provide information on the many outstanding services available through the CRCC.

"As an advocate, I am the first face of the CRCC the survivor comes in contact with, and it is important I maintain a professional yet compassionate role. The things I do or say can make or break the survivor's decision to seek professional help through the health system, law enforcement, legal system and the CRCC," Ms. Boehler said.

Each call takes at least three to four hours, Ms. Boehler said. One night, she took the two most difficult calls of her life, a 3-year-old girl and a 2-year-old girl, both who allegedly were sexually assaulted by a relative and scared to death, she said.

"I find satisfaction in knowing I was a part of the survivor's first steps towards recovery from a very traumatic, life-changing event. No one will ever be the same after any type of sexual assault, but early intervention can make a huge difference in beginning the healing process. It is very emotional not only for the survivor but also emotionally draining for the sane nurse and the advocate. The room is usually filled with so much tension, fear and disbelief it could be cut with a knife.

"The first and most important thing I share with any survivor that it was not her fault and not to second guess or blame herself for anything that happened. Most survivors are in the 'if only I had done this or that' frame of mind combined with the physical and emotional trauma. It all takes quite a toll on the survivor," Ms. Boehler said.

"I stay with the survivor as long as she needs me or until all the exams, follow-up and often interviews by the police are completed. I start with a hug and end with a hug. I assure the survivor she will get through this and come out a stronger person at the end," she said.

The 24-hour rape crisis hot line is (216)619-6192. For more information about volunteering, call (216)619-6194.

Fabulous, right? Well, The Times and the CRCC aren't the only ones who took notice. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post to find out who else recognized Janet's great work!

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