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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND RAPE CRISIS CENTER

CLEVELAND RAPE CRISIS CENTER

The CLEVELAND RAPE CRISIS CENTER (CRCC), founded in February 1974, advocates women's safety, counsels victims of rape and sexual abuse and their families, and educates the public about these and other issues. The first such center in the U.S. was organized in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1972. Lynn Hammond, a FREE MEDICAL CLINIC counselor, and Carrie Zander, of the Cleveland NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN's rape task force, founded the CRCC. They were soon joined by CLEVELAND CALL & POST reporter Jeanne Van Atta and Lorraine Schalamon. The center began as a late-night telephone hotline for rape victims. From an office in the Free Clinic, volunteers counseled victims and their families.

In April 1976, CLEVELAND FOUNDATION and GUND FOUNDATION grants enabled the center to move to new offices in the YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSN. building (3201 Euclid Avenue), hire a small full-time staff, and keep the hotline open all day. After a number of rapes in downtown buildings in 1977, the CRCC and the Safety Task Force of Cleveland Women Working (later 9TO5 NATIONAL ASSN. OF WORKING WOMEN) launched a campaign to improve building security and began to offer self-defense classes.

The CRCC received 800 calls from rape victims in 1980; that December it implemented a program to improve the indictment rate of accused rapists. The CRCC made presentations to new grand jury members during the jury's training period, discussing motives of rapists and the psychological trauma suffered by victims. The indictment rate for sex offenders in Cuyahoga County increased from five percent in 1978 to ninety percent in 1981. The center has also assisted male victims of rape. (Of the 1,370 rape victims counseled by the CRCC in 1980, forty were men.) By 1983 the CRCC had hired a youth coordinator to counsel sexually abused children.

From its headquarters in the Standard Building (1370 Ontario Street), the CRCC continued to operate its twenty-four hour hotline, as well as provide training to local emergency department staff. The center also made volunteer advocates available to individuals at emergency rooms and police departments, and through the Justice System Advocacy (JSA) program, assisted those who chose to prosecute their defenders. The CRCC also offered individual therapy and support services for survivors of rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse.

As of 2006, the CRCC was providing services to over 10,000 people per year. The executive director of the center was Megan O'Bryan.


The Voice of the Nightingale (1984).