Partnership with Cleveland Rape Crisis Center brings rape crisis advocate to campus

Miriam Ridge, Staff Reporter

A new school year is bringing about new developments in partnerships with off-campus organizations at Case Western Reserve University. After having received a $1.4 million grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (CRCC) has teamed up with the Office of Title IX, the LGBT Center, and the Flora Mather Center for Women to provide full-time, confidential support and resources through our existing student advocate, Danielle Sabo and an additional advocate, Vanessa Sampsel, from CRCC.

The CRCC comes into the equation by providing the second on-campus advocate, who will be available in the evening hours after Sabo’s office hours are over. The two advocates will spend a total of eight hours a week on campus. “We saw a gap, and we thought that would be good timing to reach people,” said Alex Leslie, director of Campus Services at the CRCC.

According to Sabo, the reason why the new CRCC advocate on campus and this program is a big deal is because it gives students more options and will provide for needs that extend beyond the campus. Whether it’s help in an on-going criminal case in the justice system or an individual that wants an advocate from the CRCC instead in addition to Sampsel, the CRCC aims to address the needs of undergraduate and graduate students and CWRU staff of any gender.

Hayley Yocum, the research coordinator at the LGBT center, commented, “It’s important to remember that this isn’t a faceless issue; The statistics at CWRU last year were one  in seven women and one  in 13 men are sexually assaulted…. This is an issue that shouldn’t be trivialized.”

When asked about how this collaboration came into being, Leslie stated, “We’ve been working with CWRU for many years, doing programming with Greek Life, the Center for Women, the Administration, so it really naturally came up.”

CWRU isn’t the first school to take part in this program with the CRCC. The grant received was in large part delegated to outreach on college campuses, such as John Carroll University, Baldwin Wallace University, the University of Akron and several other universities and colleges in the area.

“CWRU is incredibly lucky, and incredibly excited to have an advocate to double our efforts, and what the CRCC is doing for the entire community is huge,” said Sabo.

The CRCC will continue to try to expand this program and meet the needs that arise on campus. “Right now, we’re just open to figuring out how to best reach students…. Folks have been welcoming and we really appreciate it; we’re excited to have the resources to dedicate to CWRU,” said Leslie.

According to Sabo, campus advocates are effective in prompting sexual violence victims to report their experience. “Ninety percent of the time a survivor is not going to report … and will sit with that trauma and blame themselves, but when we have advocates on campus, reporting goes up by 60 percent.”

Students can speak with advocates on a broad range of subjects beyond just sexual assault, such as stress, eating disorders, healthy relationships, sexuality and gender, stalking, birth control, pregnancy and many others. “This partnership is ever evolving, and evolving in reaction to what the students need. Every experience is different,” said Sabo.

The office hours for the advocates are held in the Center for Women Monday through Friday. Appointments can be made by emailing Sabo or Sampsel or calling 216-368-8639. Beyond this, the CRCC offers free or cost reduced therapy for all survivors of sexual violence of any age.