The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, located on the second floor of 2937 W. 25th Street, has been working overtime to support and protect sexual abuse survivors. Since the start of the new year, the center has seen a 10% increase in the number of people contacting their hotline.
As a sexual abuse survivor and mental health warrior, I know what it’s like to live with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Some days are harder than others, but with lots of hard work, I’ve learned that I am not alone—thanks to my community and team of dedicated professionals. One such professional is Teresa Stafford, the Chief Program Officer of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. Stafford explains the vast array of services that the center offers to survivors:
“We offer a multitude of services for survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking; we also provide support for their family members. These services include our twenty-four-hour hotline, which is managed by trained trauma specialists. Survivors can pick up the phone and call the hotline or reach out via text. We have a younger generation that are more equipped and more comfortable reaching out to us using text or chat options.”
Counseling services are also available for survivors. They are typically given twelve free sessions, but this can vary. According to Stafford, sometimes life events can trigger their clients, in which case they are encouraged to come back to the center and re-engage with their counselors. Healing options include modalities such as art therapy, psychodrama, yoga support groups, cognitive therapy, group therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR).
As Stafford explains, “Survivors of sexual violence have an increased possibility of suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as the use of drugs and alcohol to cope with their trauma. Having additional support and gaining coping skills are so important.” She adds that survivors feel that they are able to “function and move on because of the skills gained while working with the crisis center.”
The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center understands that client empowerment must be approached holistically. The organization recently incorporated case management services to help combat the barriers that often prevent clients from receiving care. Case managers assist with food resources and stable housing. “We know that housing is a major factor in some people’s victimization,” Stafford says. Because returning to work or maneuvering life can be challenging for survivors of sexual violence, the center also plans to implement a life coaching element for additional support.
No matter the survivors’ age or when the trauma occurred, The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center is actively prepared to support them any way possible. “A very important part of our process is that when someone walks through the door, we believe them,” Stafford asserts.
As a survivor who has done years of Cognitive Therapy and EMDR Therapy, both offered at The Cleveland Rape Criss Center, I can attest that healing is not easy. But it’s possible. And it’s worth it.
May is Mental Health Awareness month, a month to remind people that they are not alone. But let’s remember that survivors matter all year long. Survivors can make an appointment or contact the Crisis and Support Hotline here.