CLEVELAND — He was taking advantage of her.
"I was in high school, a young teenager and it was my first real boyfriend,” said Erika Port.
Back then, she had no idea.
"At the time I did not realize the extent of the abuse I was experiencing — 14, I never had a real relationship before,” said Port.
It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that Port understood what happened to her.
"I was raped, emotional abuse, psychological abuse,” she said. “That's a lot for anyone to go through, but especially I think younger people to go through.”
When she was ready to talk about it, Port found community, light and a second chance at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.
"The abuse that I had endured absolutely affected me and it affected my relationships with people, and I was in a place where I didn’t want to keep living the way I was,” said Port.
Port is now an advocate for survivors. She speaks out about sexual violence and pushes for change.
Now she’s pushing all of us to give back for Giving Tuesday during a time when survivors need it most, to dig deep and give back to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.
"Abuse of woman and children and even some men is happening at a greater rate of even what we understand right now, and I think we will feel the effects of this pandemic and the social isolation for months and years to come,” said Sondra Miller, the president and CEO of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.
Miller says because of COVID-19, the organization's large fundraiser was canceled this year and they’ve had some major cuts to government grants, but they’re still doing their best.
"We don’t have all the answers to all of the world’s challenges right now, but we can be present with someone, we can talk them through a situation and hopefully help those who are suffering find some element of hope and healing,” said Miller.
Hope, healing, and support from the Cleveland Rape Crisis center is why Port stands tall today.
"I just had the most unwavering support and their staff, their team they are so equipped to help people whether rape or abuse has happened that day or 50 years ago,” said Port.