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Rape Crisis Center receives $3.2 million grant, sexual assault survivor says it's life-changing

Posted at 4:40 PM, Oct 18, 2017

Through the largest grant in its 40-year history, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center is getting help to continue helping victims of sexual assault. 

The $3.25 million grant is through the Ohio Attorney General’s office and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) fund, money that comes from fines, fees and forfeitures from white-collar criminals. 

“Without the money and the VOCA fund, this type of work just wouldn’t be possible in Northeast Ohio,” said Sarah Trimble, chief development officer for the CRCC. 

The nonprofit serves people in Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties. In 2007, Trimble said, they were able to help 14,000 victims. In 2017, that number is projected to be 44,000 survivors — growth made possible through grants and funding.

For survivors like 53-year-old Donna Black it is life-changing. She was sexually assaulted in May of 2016.

“I was so devastated when I got here through the doors,” Black said. “I didn’t know what to do, who was going to believe me, who I would be able to talk to.”

But after six months of programs at the CRCC, including counseling sessions and group therapy, Black said she is stronger than ever. 

“When I left here, I was a survivor. I was no longer a victim,” she said. “And I had my peace back.”

Trimble also said the national attention brought by the #metoo campaign is having a serious impact in Northeast Ohio. 

Since Friday, calls to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center have increased by 43 percent and half of them have cited the campaign as the trigger for seeking help.  

“The attention is empowering,” Trimble explained. “It normalizes their experience and says, ‘Hey, she spoke up and I can too.’”

According to Cleveland Police, 426 rapes have been reported in the city this year. In 2016, police responded to 512 cases. 

The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center 24-hour hotline is 216-619-6192. You can call or text.