Friday, April 30, 2010

SART Sexual Assault Awareness Month Conference

On Friday, April 23, 2010 the Cleveland Sexual Assault Response Team hosted its annual April Conference which featured international speaker and former LAPD Detective Trinka Porrata. Trinka defined the term drug-facilitated sexual assault and discussed the investigation of DFSAs and unique cases that she has worked with in her career.

Throughout her presentation, Trinka acknowledged not only the work of law enforcement and hospitals, but also highly recognized the work that rape crisis agencies do and the Volunteer Advocates who answer hotlines and respond to hospitals and police departments to be with survivors. The information, education and support that you as CRCC Volunteers provide to survivors, their loved ones and community members is extremely important and valuable to the entire team that will work with a survivor throughout the investigative process.

For more information about Trinka Porrata and DFSA investigations, visit and

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Allow me to introduce ... Candice Markle

I'd like everyone to meet Candice (Candi) Markle. A great Hotline and F2F Advocate since last summer. I think after "meeting" her, you'll agree that Candi is a great asset to survivors and our 24-Hour Programs.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering with the CRCC?
That we are able to make such an immediate impact on people; I enjoy that people know they have a number to call and that someone will be on the other end of the line, even just to listen.

What do you find most challenging about your volunteer work? That I cannot do more ... we hear from individuals in crisis but then our part of their story ends.

What do you when you're not volunteering?
I am a full-time graduate student in the Community Counseling program at John Carroll. I also work full-time as a supervisor for Koinonia Homes - partnering with individuals with developmental disabilities.

What else do you do in your free time?
I enjoy getting together with friends, reading a good book , watching the Cavs, a glass of wine ...

If you had a TV show, what would your theme song be? What would the show be about? Who would play you?
The theme song would be something by Tori Amos, perhaps Happy Phantom. In the show, people would send in requests and wishes and I would go, with a team of people, and make some of them come true so I would play myself!

If you had a magic wand and 3 wishes, what would those wishes be?
All humans would be treated equally - including women and the lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender population; there would be a cure for cancer; and I would never have to worry financially.

Book: Just one?! Anything by David Sedaris
Movie: Mulholland Drive
Website or blog:
Meal: Vegetarian Pad Thai
Spot in your house: My back deck when it is nice and sunny out!

Candi is pictured in her wedding dress. She was married last July at Squire's Castle in the MetroParks.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Judge Alison Floyd backs away from ordering polygraphs for sexual assault victims

Cleveland Plain Dealer
April 27, 2010
Rachel Dissell with Leila Atassi

Cuyahoga County Juvenile Judge Alison Floyd has backed away from a
court order forcing juvenile victims in several sexual assault cases to take polygraph examinations.

Floyd had ordered three juveniles to take the exams earlier this year after she found the teen boys accused of attacking them delinquent -- the juvenile court equivalent of guilty.

Victims, sexual assault advocates and prosecutors all objected. None of the victims complied with the order to take the tests.

In a brief filed in one of the cases, prosecutors accused Floyd of trying to "re-investigate the case."

Floyd admitted in a recent journal entry that she has "limited jurisdiction over a victim or witness" and that she had no authority over the victim after she made the decision to find the accused youth delinquent.

The judge explained in the same entry that she had ordered the polygraphs of the victim and her attacker after considering the "significant discrepancy" in the stories both youths told. Floyd said she wanted to "verify his truthfulness to determine an appropriate treatment services and an appropriate victim and community safety plan."

Floyd has not commented publicly on the orders or fully explained her rationale.

But her actions drew outrage from victim advocates and activists across the country, as national news sources, feminist blogs and women's rights websites carried the story.

Ms. Magazine, a political feminist publication, spotlighted the issue in its online blog, arguing that forcing victims to take a polygraph test violates the federal Violence Against Women Act and might violate Ohio's rape shield law, which is intended to prevent courts from trying the victim rather than the defendant. The magazine called feminists to action and encouraged readers to contact the judge and express their dissent.

Last week, Floyd's bailiff, Greg Moore, said the judge has received feedback from across the country about her decision.

He said she might discuss her rationale once all the cases are completed.

In one of the cases, Floyd has dismissed rape charges against a 13-year-old Lakewood boy who she had earlier found delinquent.

In an entry filed earlier this month in the case, the judge wrote that both the accused youth and the victim, who was also 13, "lacked adequate knowledge regarding legal and illegal sexual behavior."

She also questioned how and when the victim chose to report the crime as factors in her decision.Prosecutors plan to appeal the decision, according to Ryan Miday, spokesman for Prosecutor Bill Mason.

"We are confused about why polygraph tests were issued in the first place and why charges were dismissed in one case," said Megan O'Bryan, CEO & President of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, which has been working with some of the teen victims.

"We are very concerned that these actions will discourage other rape survivors from coming forward," she added. "All survivors should feel believed and supported at all stages of the criminal justice process, but especially after their perpetrator is found guilty or adjudicated."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Self-Care: Allison's Recipe Box

from Allison Hrovat, Adult Therapeutic Services Coordinator

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that one of my favorite self-care activities is cooking. While I know that for some people cooking can feel anything but relaxing, for me it really is a way to get out of my head, to use my hands and all of my senses to create…

I love combining different tastes, textures, colors and smells all on one plate. As the weather starts turning warmer, I think about the tastes of spring and summer---fresh herbs, bright citrus flavors, just a hint of spice. The following is one of my favorite easy recipes, perfect for a potluck or a summer picnic.

Whether you are a cook by passion or simply out of necessity, I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe and continue to find new and fulfilling methods of self-care in your own life!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

4 T olive oil
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional, depending on whether you like things a little spicy!)
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 lb.); peeled and cut into ¾ inch cubes
2 T fresh lime juice (the juice from 1 lime)
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans; drained and rinsed well
½ medium red onion, finely diced
½ c chopped fresh cilantro
Salt/ pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Preheat a baking sheet in the oven until the oven reaches temperature.
Meanwhile, toss peeled and diced sweet potatoes with 2 T olive oil, cumin, red pepper flake and salt and pepper to taste.
Remove heated baking sheet from oven. Pour sweet potatoes onto the hot baking sheet. Return to the oven, to the bottom rack, and roast for 25-35 minutes, turning once, until tender and browned on the edges.
In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice with remaining 2 T olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add sweet potatoes (once they are slightly cooled), black beans, onions and cilantro and gently toss to combine. Can be served immediately or chilled and served later.

This is a great salad to make additions to and experiment. Sweet corn, red bell pepper, queso fresco cheese and garbanzo beans have all been delicious additions. Buen provecho!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Nurse's Journal: SANE Nursing

SANE nurses take on dual role of comforting for assault victim while collecting evidence for prosecution: A Nurse's Journal
from the Plain Dealer on April 17th, 2010

A Nurse's Journal
Michele Reali-Sorrell
Huron Hospital

A Nurse's Journal is a column written by nurses about their working experiences. Today's author is Michele Reali-Sorrell, a nurse in the emergency department at the Cleveland Clinic's Huron Hospital.

She was cowering under the front porch of an abandoned house when EMS arrived. A stranger cut her neck with a knife, strangled and raped her. He left her to die.

She was transported to Huron Hospital where highly skilled trauma physicians and nurses worked to repair the devastating injuries this woman had just endured. She survived her physical injuries. What about her psychological trauma? How will she survive that? She's the reason I became a SANE nurse.

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs were created so that specially trained forensic nurses can provide 24-hour, first-response care to sexual assault patients in either hospital or non-hospital settings. SANE programs provide care in an empowering setting that addresses the survivor's emotional and medical needs as well as evidence collection needs for prosecution.
SANE nurses strive to preserve their patients" dignity and ensure that survivors are not re-traumatized by the evidence collection process.They help survivors gain control by allowing them to make decisions throughout that process.

The gathering of forensic evidence includes collecting the survivor's clothing, conducting a physical assessment and specimen collection. SANE nurses are also trained in identifying patterned injury, documenting injuries, maintaining chain-of-evidence, and providing expert witness testimony.

Most SANE programs offer emergency contraception for sexual assault patients who are at risk of becoming pregnant and antibiotics to treat sexually transmitted diseases that may have been contracted during the assault.

Huron Hospital started its SANE program in 2004. We have six highly skilled, dedicated and compassionate nurses that allow Huron to provide 24-hour coverage. We offer care to anyone sexually assaulted ages 13 and older. We have cared for approximately 400 sexually assaulted patients since we opened our program in 2004. Fairview, Hillcrest and Marymount hospitals -- all part of the Cleveland Clinic health system -- have SANE programs as well. We work closely with Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and the Domestic Violence Center to help get our patients resources and follow up care after they are discharged.

Being a SANE nurse can be emotionally and physically draining. Getting called in for a case in the middle of the night can leave you sleep deprived for the rest of your day. But what makes being a SANE nurse so rewarding is being able to help my patient feel safe. I'm able to give my patient 100 percent of my attention, find resources for her and help her start the process of recovery.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Few Words from Wendy during Volunteer Appreciation Week

Writing this is something that I have been procrastinating over for weeks. I knew it was coming – the end of Volunteer Appreciation Week. Kate wrote her post. Sarah wrote her post. I had to write mine.

But first I would organize all shift reports by date. Then I would reorganize them by length of call. Then I would put them in order based on who had the best handwriting … you get the idea. I was stalling. Waiting. Hoping that somehow elves or magic or unicorns would help me out and this post would appear on the blog. Or that Sarah would accept my $10 bribe to write it for me. But it didn’t happen. So, at the eleventh hour, I am sitting at my computer and biting my nails.

You see, it’s not that I don’t appreciate you. It’s because I appreciate you so much that I’m overwhelmed by the responsibility of this post. How can I ever effectively communicate how much I thank you? Respect you? Appreciate you?

I don’t know. But I know my post is due so I’m going to give it my best shot.

You are mothers. Friends. Wives. Brothers.

You are students. Lawyers. Accountants. Teachers.

You care for sick relatives. Organize community groups. Coach children’s sports teams.

You realize that sexual violence is something that touches us all.

And not only do you fill all these roles and accomplish all these goals and recognize this problem … you do something about it.

You each decided that despite your full lives you would make the time. You would make sacrifices. You would take on this work.
Because you want to help someone else. Because you want to be a part of the mission.

And here is what I have learned through working with all of you:
You are doing it.

Each and every day you are helping those who are survivors of sexual violence and contributing to a society where, eventually, sexual violence will no longer exist.

I know that I don’t do a very good job of letting you know how I feel about all of you. I get bogged down in the daily grind of keeping two 24/7 programs running. There are a million different excuses and reasons to not volunteer (trust me – I’ve heard most of them!). But with every e-mail I send or phone call I make, I am always aware that you have chosen, despite all of this, to be an Advocate.

And so I thank you for the time you have given. I respect you for dedicating yourselves to the mission. I appreciate all you have done for survivors.

(Just for the record, I think magical elves would’ve done a better job with this post if only they’d helped out!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Appreciate you


Although you have probably started receiving your Thank Yous in the mail with a short thank you from me, I wanted to post a thank you for the whole blogging world to see.

Not everyone can do this work. The work that you do is hard. It’s emotionally taxing and a big time commitment. I thank you for making the commitment to volunteer with the CRCC and the work you do with survivors, and their loved ones.

The difference you make is huge. It’s huge in the lives of the people you work with and I believe through the work we do we are making a change in society. A 15 minute phone call or a an hour-long Face to Face call may change that person’s outlook and understanding of what happened. Because you answered the phone or meet someone at the hospital that person has heard that it was not their fault that they were sexually assaulted. They know that it is their choice if they want to press charges or not and that it is ok if they do not want to press charges. They know that it is not ok or right that this happened to them.

I have enjoyed getting to know many of you through the Continuing Education Series and other events here at the Center and I hope to get to know even more of you.

Thank you for all that you do.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pin of Distinction Recipients

Each year a select few Advocates are chosen to receive the Pin of Distinction.

Advocates are nominated by myself, Sarah and Kate and meet the following criteria:

  • At least one year of involvement with CRCC's Volunteer Programs

  • Exemplary service to survivors of sexual assault and their friends and family

  • Regular and responsible taking of Hotline and F2F shifts and/or responding to F2F requests

  • Dedication and commitment to all CRCC programs, events and activities

This year, we acknowledge the following recipients:

Kimberlee Bizup

Rachel Floriano

Rachel Mackson

Amanda Maggiotto

Candice Markle

These Advocates recently received their nightingale lapel pins as part of Volunteer Appreciation Week. I'm sure you join me in congratulating them and thanking them for the excellent work they've done!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thank You

When others learn of the work that I do, I am sometimes met with a puzzled look and comments such as "Wow, that must be a really depressing job!" or "Why are you in that line of work?" I know that you, too, are probably often met with similar comments when people learn that you volunteer with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. We have all been drawn to the Movement for different reasons, and working to end sexual violence is what unites each of us.

I have enjoyed getting to know you through your volunteer work at the Center, and I am truly honored to work with such a committed group of women and men who believe in the cause and daily advocate for sexual assault survivors and their loved ones. The work that you do is hard work and heavy on the heart. Thank you for saying yes to becoming a volunteer with the CRCC. Thank you for answering the Hotline when it rings, not knowing the life you will be touching on the other end of the line. Thank you for responding to face-to-face requests at hospitals and police stations, no matter the time of day or season of weather. Thank you for your assistance with CRCC trainings and events, never hesitating to lend a helping hand in time of need.

Thank you. For all that you do. Know that you have my support and admiration, and I appreciate you and am here for you.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Welcome to National Volunteer Week!

While we always appreciate the work being done by our volunteers, we don't always do enough to let you know this. National Volunteer Week reminds us at CRCC how much we value all of you and the work that you do!

Stay tuned all week for blog posts of appreciation and thanks. And check that mailbox for a small token to commemorate National Volunteer Week 2010!

Thank you Lydia

I would like to thank Lydia Troha for presenting in our Continuing Education Series for Volunteers.

The Continuing Education Presentation by Lydia from the Board of Developmental Disabilities on Thursday night was wonderful. Lydia's presentation was well attended with Hotline Advocates, Face to Face Advocates, Interns, and CRCC Staff. Everyone felt that Lydia's presentation was filled with helpful information and that Lydia was very engaging.

Lydia discussed the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), The Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCBDD), a horrifying history of how individuals with Developmental Disabilities were treated (up until the 1940!!), Sexuality in individuals with Developmental Disabilities (Myths and Facts), why individuals with Developmental Disabilities are at such risk for being sexual assaulted, and Tips for working with individuals with Developmental Disabilities.

Some Tips:
Use simple language
Use short sentences
Give more time while waiting for a response to a question
Ask only one question at a time
Ask specific questions
Try to avoid asking questions that have yes or no answers
Make eye contact before you speak
Say his or her name often
Speak Directly to the person (I THINK THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ONE)
Using pictures can be helpful

So again Lydia, thank you for your presentation!

Next Continuing Education Event will be May 17th. Tracie Paine will be presenting on Neuroscience and PTSD.

Friday, April 16, 2010

SAAM video What do you think?

This is a 9 minute video created for SAAM. It highlights the way that rape prevention campaigns often put the onus on women to avoid being raped, providing lists of things to avoid doing (that basically add up to never doing anything where a man is present, ever), rather than focusing on educating men about not raping women.

Most of the movie is a joke but it ends on a serious note with a message to talk about Sexual Assaults with everyone you know. I am very interested to hear what people think about this.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Allow me to introduce ... Michael Scur

Mike is one of our newest Hotline Advocates, finishing training in the Fall of 2009. He's been working hard to build up his experience but, as you'll see below, his passion for the cause and desire to help are already strong. Mike is a student research assistant at CSU in a trauma research lab. I asked him to make a few more minutes in his schedule to answer a few questions ...

What led you to volunteer with the CRCC?
There’s a phrase in Latin I’ve always been inspired by: Surgo Ut Prosim – I rise that I might serve. I’m fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to study what I’m so passionate about in school, and to have such strong social support like my family (my parents in particular). Because of this, necessity demands I do something positive and important for other people.

Why the CRCC? The personal narratives of survivors ground the work I participate in; it provides a human element that I think can be easily overlooked (even when doing trauma research). Besides, the goal is to apply everything I’m learning to help individuals who suffer from trauma. There’s no point in waiting to get started, and the CRCC has provided a valuable avenue with education in providing support and resources.

What do you find most challenging about volunteering with the CRCC? My fear is that I could have done more in some way. I realize this is out of the scope of the service I provide, but it’s on my mind every now and then.

Do you have a favorite experience as a volunteer?
Volunteer appreciation night: I finally got to see the faces behind the names on my contact roster.
I also really enjoy the varied things Wendy prepares for shift request e-mails! I’m amazed at her creativity sometimes.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not volunteering?
I’m an avid reader. Research articles and blogs mostly. I also eat out A LOT. I have pretty eclectic taste buds. I’ve recently become a Michael Symon fan after B Spot.

What do you do most often to practice self-care?
My roommate keeps things pretty interesting around the house. We have a lot of laughs about random topics – it’s good having that spontaneity and humor in my life. When it’s warmer I like to visit my parents over the weekends and relax around the pond in their backyard. Chocolate is a pharmacotherapy that I think EVERYONE should consider.

Favorites ...
Book: Move Underground
Movie: Laundry (foreign film)
Website or blog: The Last Psychiatrist
Vacation spot: Istanbul
Meal: Imam Bayildi

Also from Mike ...
I can understand that I come off as fairly serious in these questions, especially those regarding CRCC and trauma, but I think I’m speaking in the right tone considering my audience. We all understand how important it is to offer that support when someone is reaching out for it, and to be that compassionate first voice they hear on the phone. While I consider myself still rather new as a hotline advocate, I think I understand the gravitas of the experience at least in a slight way. We’re doing important work. We should all be proud of that fact.

With that said, take care of yourselves. Don’t let this overwhelm you. Wendy emphasized self-care during training and I can’t agree more. I suggest anything from Dr. Seligman or Carl Rogers for reading. Really positive stuff.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Date Safe Project

CRCC and others are partnering with Parent 2 Parent Network to host free programming for parents, professionals and teens.

Critically acclaimed programs presented by Mike Domitrz - author, expert and parent of teenagers. Using his down-to-earth, funny and blunt approach Mike provides parents, students, schools and professionals with real solutions to tough conversations on dating, intimacy and sexual assault. During his powerful presentations you will go from laughing at your own silly past attempts of "trying to talk to teens" to emotional moments of discovering how to precisely say what you really want teenagers to know about dating.

Help! My Teen is Dating: Real Solutions to Tough Conversations
For parents only - you will learn:
  • How to start the talk and get your teen to listen.
  • Three questions to reveal your teen's dating maturity.
  • What to say to your teen's date.
  • How to discuss dangers from alcohol to sexual assault.
  • Tips to fun and safer dating
May 4th at 7:00pm / Westlake Performing Arts Center / 27830 Hilliard Blvd / Westlake

Train the Trainer
For counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists - you will earn 1 free CEU and learn:
  • How to take a simple approach to tough questions.
  • How to facilitate thought-provoking conversations on sexual assault and other teen education subjects.
May 4th at 2:00pm / Trinity Commons / 2200 Euclid Ave / Cleveland
(free parking at corner of Prospect Ave and E. 22nd, enter off Prospect)

Can I Kiss You?
For teens, parents, counselors and social workers (earn 1 free CEU) - teens will learn:
  • How to take action in their own lives and in the lives of the people around them.
  • How to set the norm for respectful behavior in their relationship.
  • Why "asking first" makes all the difference.
  • How to respect a partner's choice.
  • Putting to rest the mystery and myths about dating.
May 5th at 7:00pm / The Mandel Jewish Community Center Stonehill Auditorium / 26001 South Woodland Rd / Beachwood

For more info about the programs above contact Parent to Parent Network at (440)666-8234, or visit

Learn more about Mike's programs and educational materials at

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April's Continuing Education Event

I am very excited about this months event!!!! I can't wait to learn more on this topic.

This Month's Continuing Education Event will be a speaker from the Cuyahoga Count Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCBDD). Lydia Troha will be speaking Thursday April 15th at 6pm at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Lydia will speak about Cuyahoga's Sexual Assault Response Team, CCBDD, sexuality in individuals with Developmental Disabilities, tips for working with individuals with Developmental Disabilities, and her experiences working with survivors of sexual assault who have Developmental Disabilities.

And for the First time Ever we will be offering A free CEU to individuals who need them for the social work license.

Who: Lydia Troha from the CCBDD

What: Continuing Education Event about Sexual Assault in people with Developmental Disabilities

Where: CRCC training room (14th floor)

When: April 15th, 6pm

Why: To gain better understanding of advocacy with individuals who have Developmental Disabilities AND CEUs

RSVP to me, Sarah, or 216-619-6194x116 if you are interested in attending the event. Please also let me know if you need CEUs from this event.

Monday, April 12, 2010

From a Fellow Advocate

from Mike Scur, Hotline Advocate since Fall 2009

It goes without saying the women who engage in prostitution are a vulnerable population regarding sexual assault.

Farley and Barkan (1998) report that 68% of sex workers in a San Francisco sample had been raped while engaging in prostitution work.

This graphic provides a chilling insight into some of the demographics and statistics behind the sex trade industry.

Farley, M.,& Barkan, H. (1998). Prostitution, violence, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Women & Health, 27(3), 37-49.

The Stats Behind Prostitution
Via: Online Schools

Friday, April 9, 2010

Groups and Outreach from CRCC

from Krystle Diver, Group and Outreach Therapist

Hi!!! My name is Krystle Diver and I am one of the Group & Outreach Therapists at CRCC. I am finishing up my Masters degree in Community Counseling at John Carroll University. I started at the CRCC as an intern this past fall and was hired full time in January. It is really exciting to be a part of not only the center, but being part of the team that is outreaching to the community.
Before we had two Group & Outreach Therapists, we were only outreaching to one agency which was Orca House. Orca House is a women’s residential treatment facility that we go into and provide a support group for the women during their stay. Many of the women who are at Orca House are beginning their work on their sobriety.

We go into these types of facilities, because we know that there is a high correlation between addiction and trauma. It is important that we are able to provide these services to these individuals during this time, because many of them will replace their emotions or feelings with their addiction so that they do not have to face what has happened to them and when they are working through their sobriety these emotions will come back and sometimes can feel overwhelming.

Besides Orca House, we now have collaborations with Hitchcock Center, Center for Families and Children (East & West location), The Women’s Center, and we are providing a support group at Saint John West Shore. Hitchcock Center is also a women’s treatment facility a lot like Orca House and we are going in and simply providing the women with psychoeducation around Sexual Assault. As for Center for Families and Children we are facilitating a support group for some of their clients who have been sexually assaulted. Many of the clients in these groups at Center for Families and Children also have a Mental Health Diagnosis on top of their trauma history.

All in all, outreaching to these agencies or other agencies is really important, because some of the clients cannot get down to the center, but really need support. By outreaching into these agencies it allows us to provide them with the support and services that the CRCC basis themselves on.

I am happy to report that among these collaborations we have many other agencies that are interested in working with us. I am proud to be a part of the team at CRCC and am thankful for all the hard work that the volunteers do on a daily basis!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Proclamation on Sexual Assault Awareness Month from the President

Every day, women, men, and children across America sufferthe pain and trauma of sexual assault. From verbal harassment and intimidation to molestation and rape, this crime occurs far too frequently, goes unreported far too often, and leaves long-lasting physical and emotional scars.

During National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we recommit ourselves not only to lifting the veil of secrecy and shame surrounding sexual violence, but also to raising awareness, expanding support for victims, and strengthening our response.
Sexual violence is an affront to our national conscience, one which we cannot ignore. It disproportionately affects women -- an estimated one in six American women will experience an attempted or completed rape at some point in her life. Too many men and boys are also affected.

These facts are deeply troubling, and yet, sexual violence affects Americans of all ages, backgrounds, and circumstances. Alarming rates of sexual violence occur among young women attending college, and frequently, alcohol or drugs are used to incapacitate the victim. Among people with disabilities, isolation may lead to repeated assaults and an inability to seek and locate help.

Native American women are more than twice as likely to be sexually assaulted compared with the general population. As a Nation, we share the responsibility for protecting each other from sexual assault, supporting victims when it does occur, and bringing perpetrators to justice.

We can lead this charge by confronting and changing insensitive attitudes wherever they persist. Survivors too often suffer in silence because they fear further injury, are unwilling to experience further humiliation, or lack faith in the criminal justice system. This feeling of isolation, often compounded with suicidal feelings, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, only exacerbate victims'sense of hopelessness.

No one should face this trauma alone, and as families, friends, and mentors, we can empower victims to seek the assistance they need.

At the Federal, State, local, and tribal level, we mustwork to provide necessary resources to victims of every circumstance, including medical attention, mental healthmore services, relocation and housing assistance, and advocacy during legal proceedings.

Under Vice President Biden's leadership, the 2005 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act includedthe Sexual Assault Services Program, the first-ever funding stream dedicated solely to providing direct services to victims of sexual assault.

To further combat sexual violence, my 2011 Budget doubles funding for this program. Through the JusticeDepartment and the Centers for Disease Control, we are funding prevention and awareness campaigns as well as grants for campus services to address sexual assault on college campuses. The Justice Department has also increased funding and resources to combat violence against Native American women.

As we continue to confront this crime, let us reaffirm this month our dedication to take action in our communities and stop abuse before it starts. Together, we can increase awareness about sexual violence, decrease its frequency, punish offenders, help victims, and heal lives.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2010 as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

I urge all Americans to reach out to victims, learn more about this crime, and speak out against it. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Call + Response: Free Screening

Many of you may remember a post several months ago about an innovative and important documentary on human slavery called Call + Response.

You can check out that post here for some information about this project.

Now, thanks to the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Response Team and JCU's Violence Prevention and Action Center/Late Night Programming Fund, you have the opportunity to see the movie in it's entirety. And it's free!

It doesn't get much better than that!

Friday, April 9, 2010
10 pm
John Carroll University
LSC Room

For more information or to view the film trailer, visit or

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rally Wrap-Up

from Alex Leslie, Prevention Specialist

The first thing that everyone noticed was the weather. Everyone seemed to say something akin to, “You couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.” I, of course, couldn’t help but agree. The Rally to kick of Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, if measured by weather, was a resounding success from the start. It seemed unlikely that anything could have topped the weather, but our speakers found a way to bring even more energy and positivity to the event! Even prior to the 12:00pm start time, people began to arrive to get information, soak up the sun, and get some amazing food—catered by the even-more-amazing Marigold Catering.

MC Terry Moir from WDOK’s morning show kicked things off by providing statistics about sexual violence and child abuse. Between stirring appreciation from CRCC’s CEO, Megan O’Bryan and Bellflower’s Executive William Eyman, the audience couldn’t help but see the urgency that comes with awareness of sexual violence and child abuse. Most importantly, participants heard an energetic speech from Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who reminded all that, “We are our sisters’ keeper; we are our children’s keeper.”

Thanks to all who turned out in support of the “We Can Talk” initiative. Together, we will all work to shed light into the darkness and raise voices in the silence. We sincerely appreciate your support!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Commission's Findings

Many of you have heard the news or seen the paper! The three-member commission appointed to examine how Cleveland police handles sexual assault and missing persons cases in the aftermath of the Imperial Avenue serial killings, has released their report.

They participated in extensive interviews and research and developed 26 recommendations. The story, on the front page of the Plain Dealer, can be found here. This link also includes access to a summary of the report as well as the report in it's entirety (very lengthy). Listed below are a few of the suggestions highlighted in the paper ...

Recommended: Create a missing persons unit to analyze and distribute information. This would not add more investigators but should improve record keeping and sharing, and give families a contact person.

Currently: Patrol officers take initial reports and attempt to locate the missing person before passing cases to detectives in the five police districts. One officer in the departments downtown headquarters acts as a liaison. This would stay the same.

Recommended: Update the Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Units technology, such as cell phones, e-mail and electronic systems to track cases. The unit should relocate to a victim-friendly environment and private space should be created at police districts for victims to make reports.

Currently: The unit is located in dingy offices at Cleveland Police Headquarters. Parking is costly. Victims are often interviewed in the same space used to interrogate suspects. Officers do not have city-provided cell phones or e-mail. Cases are entered and updated in a handwritten logbook.

Recommended: City prosecutors with specialized training and detectives should collaborate on sexual assault cases from the start. The city should hire trained advocates.

Currently: In most cases, unit detectives consult with city prosecutors only when their investigations are finished. City prosecutors then decide whether the cases warrant charges or should go to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office. Currently, less than 1/3 of all cases reported and investigated get prosecuted.

Recommended: Provide new or additional training for safety workers about victim sensitivity. Train department personnel to be courteous, friendly and professional. Specialized training is needed for responding to people, such as drug addicts, mentally ill.

Currently: Officers get limited training on victim trauma and crisis situations in the police academy. Yearly, officers receive up to 40 hours of training, sometimes by outside agencies, or seek additional training on their own.

Allow me to introduce ... Elyse Sikorski

I'd like to introduce everyone to a wonderful Hotline Advocate, Elyse Sikorski!

Elyse has been a volunteer since Fall 2008 and is still finds time to volunteer despite also being a graduate student in Mental Health Counseling at Kent State. I asked Elyse for a few more minutes of her time ...

What led you to volunteer with the CRCC?
As an undergraduate at John Carroll University, I was involved with Take Back the Night, the Vagina Monologues and was part of a feminist group on campus as well, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to help more. A friend told me about being a hotline advocate ... and well, here I am!

Do you have a favorite experience as a volunteer?
My favorite experience was when I was in training and I got to know all these wonderful people who had the same desire to help make this world a better place and to take a big step towards ending violence against women.

What do you find most challenging about volunteering with the CRCC?
What is most difficult for me is when the conversation between me and the caller ends, I wonder what is going to happen to her/him or if she/he is going to seek counseling, etc? Or what lies ahead for her/him?

What do you do most often to practice self-care?
I have started doing yoga, which helps. I also like to call a friend to better my day or I just put on an episode of "Glee" to laugh.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not volunteering?
I like to read, drink lots of coffee (or any caffeinated beverage for that matter), be with friends and family, and I enjoy seeing movies at the Cedar Lee!!

If you had a TV show, what would your theme song be? What would the show be about? Who would play you?
I do not know what song would be played all I know is that the case of Glee would be singing my theme song and Meryl Streep would play me ... you know because we look so much alike! Or maybe Kristen Chenoweth because she is beautiful, talented and short like me (so we have a deep connection right there).

Favorites ...
Book: Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti
Movie: (500) Days of Summer
Music: The Weepies
Vacation spot: Chautauqua, New York
Sports teams: Umm hello, the Indians!!