Friday, August 6, 2010

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center advocate to be located onsite at Sex Crimes Unit

Reporting a crime can be intimidating, and the nature of a sex crime can make reporting an even greater challenge. A sexual assault survivor may feel shame or be in shock. He or she may fear being judged or not believed when disclosing the terrifying experience they have been through. Given these facts, it is easy to understand why sexual assault is the most under-reported crime in the U.S.

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and Cleveland Division of Police are taking steps to support victims who choose to report a sexual assault. Starting in the fall, an advocate from CRCC will be available on-site at the Sex Crimes Unit. This developing partnership works to address the recommendations set forth by Mayor Frank Jackson's Special Commission on Sex Crimes and Missing Persons.

"We are formalizing and enhancing a partnership that has been in place for several years," said Megan O'Bryan, CEO of Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

The advocate in the sex crimes unit will have access to police reports within a day or two after they are made. "With this partnership, we can reach out to survivors and offer advocacy and therapeutic services at a critical time," said Ashley Hawke, Director of Advocacy Services. "Our hope is that, with these supportive services, individuals can better understand and participate in the criminal justice process."

Model policy from the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommends prompt use of a victim advocate to provide support and inform victims about the criminal justice process. O'Bryan noted, "By working closely with our advocates, Cleveland's Sex Crimes Unit is utilizing a best practice. This can only strengthen the services victims receive, and both organizations."

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