Orange Rape Crisis Center on move

Hannah Adams
Hannah Adams

Todd Cohen

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — One in six women and one in 33 men in the United States will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the U.S., where 248,000 people were victims of sexual assault in 2007.

Yet 60 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.

Working to educate the community about the problem and support victims of sexual violence, both those who wish to remain anonymous and those who do not, is the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.

Formed in 1974, the agency operates with an annual budget of $500,000 and serves roughly 400 clients a year, over 80 percent of them women.

The agency has moved from a house it rented from Amity Methodist Church on North Estes Drive to offices in a professional building at Estes Drive and Franklin Street that should offer its clients greater anonymity and privacy, says Hannah Adams, its new executive director.

The Rape Crisis Center provides clients with direct services, including a 24-hour crisis line and assistance for people who walk in the door, as well as a therapy program, support groups, outreach and other services for Latinos and Latinas, and community education, mainly through the Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school systems.

The agency, which counts on donations and fundraising for nearly 40 percent of its revenue, has cut its budget 10 percent to cope with the impact of the economic recession.

Those cuts have included a freeze on salaries and contributions to the retirement plan for its staff of six people working full-time and five working part-time.

And the agency, which counts on a core of 100 active volunteers, is not filling a staff job that is vacant.

Some of the grants the Rape Crisis Center has received have been for smaller amounts of money that it had requested, and funders have not yet made decisions on other requests for large grants.

In cutting costs so far, she says, the agency has not cut services to clients.

“We did everything we could without impacting programs or services,” Adams says.

That also was important for the staff, many of whom began working for the agency as volunteers or interns, Adams says.

The board, she says, wanted the staff “to feel strong and supported because they’re dealing with people in crisis.”

Adams says the Rape Crisis Center also is taking a more strategic approach to its fundraising.

That includes getting its board more involved in the organization and in fundraising, and also learning more about its donors and looking for ways to connect them to the organization based on their interests.

Part of that strategy includes holding small events for people who might be interested in the work of the agency.

The Rape Crisis Center also plans to hold smaller fundraising events like one Whole Foods sponsored June 2, when it donated five percent of its net sales for the day, or $4,000.

In addition to fundraising, a big focus of events the agency sponsors is to raise awareness about sexual violence and let people know they can report cases of sexual assault and still keep their anonymity.

“One of our main goals,” Adams says, “is to provide support so that women feel safe and can be anonymous and can come forward.”

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