Tips for Supporting a Partner in Crisis

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d6eb60bcbd2c14fb8daabc773cd99ffcThe impacts of sexual violence can include a wide array of frustrations and barriers to daily functioning for survivors. Watching from the sidelines as a loved one struggles with those difficulties can bring a similar yet different sense of helplessness and frustration. Secondary survivors — the partners, friends, and family members of survivors — often go through their own trauma response as a result of hearing about the survivor’s experiences and witnessing the negative impacts.

Whether a primary survivor is still reeling in the immediate aftermath of having experienced sexual violence, or whether they are struggling with flashbacks and triggers months or years after the initial incident, it can be painful to watch someone experiencing a crisis. It is important to note that a crisis is different than an emergency. An emergency presents imminent risk of physical harm, whereas a crisis is the mental and emotional response when a situation is too overwhelming to be handled by regular coping methods.

As the person on the outside watching someone suffer, it is a common response to want to do anything you can to make it better, and also common to feel like there is nothing you can do to make it better. While you may not be able to fix the whole situation, your presence and support can be an invaluable benefit to your loved one. Here are a few suggestions for small ways to help someone through a crisis: Read more


New Office Hours: 9am-4pm

OCRCC Articles

Our office hours have changed!

Previously, our official office hours were from 9:00am – 5:00pm, but we’ve now switched to a 9:00am – 4:00pm schedule. Not to worry though, our services will still be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

What does this mean?

While The Center’s in-person office hours will decrease by one hour each day, the services we provide for survivors and their loved ones will continue to operate as usual. We will still offer 24-hour support, every day of the year. If you or someone you know needs support, you may:

Additionally, our staff and volunteers may be able to meet with you outside of office hours by request. Please give us a call at 919-967-7273 to learn more about our services.

Why are we making the switch?

This change in office hours will allow our staff to have greater flexibility in their work days, encouraging balance over the course of each work week. A lot of the support we offer and outreach events we attend occur in the evenings or over the weekend. The change in office hours means we can offer these after-hours opportunities more sustainably.

More questions about our change in hours?

Please contact us anytime at 919-968-4647 or info@ocrcc.org.


Internet Safety Tips

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Many parents speak to their children about protecting themselves from unwanted physical contact. However, it is important to consider unsafe, uncomfortable, or unwanted interactions online as well. These interactions may take the form of sexual harassment, cyberbullying, or a person asking for too much personal information or pretending to be someone that they are not. In honor of International Internet Day, here are some tips for talking to your children about internet safety.

  1. Talk to your child about internet privacy. Advise your child not to share their personal information – such as full names, parents’ names, phone numbers, addresses, schools, locations, passwords, or even pictures – with anyone online or through social media sites. Remind your child that nothing they share on the internet is ever completely private.
  1. Caution your child that while it is okay to have online friends, people are not always who they say they are. If an online friend asks to meet in person, wants to keep the friendship a secret, or asks a lot of personal questions, these are generally warning signs. Ask your child to tell you if their online friend wants to meet them in person.
  1. Encourage your child to tell you if something that is said to them or something that they see online makes them uncomfortable. Ask your child to print a picture of anything that makes them uncomfortable and show it to you in case comments or pictures are later deleted. Remind your child that if someone online says something that makes them feel uncomfortable, upset, or scared, it is not their fault and that you will support them.

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Relationship Violence Awareness Month

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It’s that time of year again. In a state that barely has real seasons, trees actually start to change color, and the temperature drops below 80 — it’s finally October. For students, that means midterms are right around the corner. For parents, it’s time to start thinking about trick or treating. For everyone in between, pumpkin-flavored delicacies emerge to spice up every meal of the day.

But let’s not forget that October also means the start of Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM)Relationship violence – sometimes referred to as intimate partner violence, dating violence, or domestic violence – is the occurrence of interpersonal violence within an intimate relationship or after the relationship has ended.

Some of you might be thinking that you’re already aware of domestic violence or that you already have a fairly good concept of what it is, but I challenge you to think more deeply about it this month. Generally, the dominant narrative is a man beating or otherwise physically hurting his wife. But in reality, relationship violence doesn’t always look the way you think it might.

We often forget that those who experience psychological or emotional abuse, sexual assault, and financial abuse all relationships — not just marriages and heterosexual relationships — are victims of domestic violence as well.

Relationship violence is based in one partner’s desire to exercise control over another partner, and that control can be realized using a variety of tactics of manipulation and abuse. These tactics often involve isolating the victim from their family and friends, working to lower their self-esteem, and coercing them to do things they don’t want to do.

Read more


5 Tips for Supporting a Survivor of Sexual Assault

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Parents, friends, and others who want to support survivors of sexual assault may not know exactly how to do so. These loved ones may feel helpless and worry about saying the wrong thing or pushing too hard when attempting to offer love and support. We share some of the best tips for supporting survivors so that you can help them feel empowered and start on the road toward healing.

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  1. Accept that you will not have all of the answers or be able to fix it.

It can be especially frustrating to help a loved one who survived sexual assault, because you may feel overwhelmed and struggle with not knowing exactly how to help, even though you wish you could make things better immediately. It is important to keep in mind that just being there for the survivor can make all of the difference in the world. Your loved one does not expect you to have all of the answers, and they know that you cannot repair the damage.

However, you can listen and let them know that you care. Offer unconditional support and believe them. You respond to them in non-judgmental ways and offer support in any way that you can. Do not blame them, question them, or push them for more information. Let them know that you believe in them and will support them for as long as it takes. You also need to validate their feelings and acknowledge them in positive and empowering ways.

  1. Help them feel empowered and regain control over their life.

One of the worst effects of sexual assault is the sense of helplessness that it instills in the victim. They lose power during the assault, so it is critical for you to support their decisions and choices to help them regain a sense of control over their life. Avoid telling them what to do, but offer suggestions and options to help them make decisions that are right for them. Share resources with them for other support systems, such as counselors, sexual assault support groups, and others.

You also could suggest that they ease back into a routine that does not involve a great deal of stress by finding a job that serves a therapeutic purpose. There are many options for working at home or working with their hands that would empower them by allowing them to work as much or as little as they’d like. For example, they could set her own hours and rates by becoming a dog walker. Studies show that petting and playing with dogs reduces stress and alleviates depression and anxiety.

  1. Take a cue from the survivor themselves.

Read more


Join the Auction Committee!

OCRCC Articles

Each year, hundreds of our supporters gather together at our annual Holiday Auction to celebrate the help, hope, and healing that the Center offers to our community. This is our largest event of the year and it provides crucial funding to ensure that our services remain free and confidential for those who need them.

The Auction Committee is comprised of dedicated volunteers who seek to support the Center in a unique way. Their energy and hard work raises $100,000 for the Center each year!

We are excited to welcome:

 

We are still looking for a Dessert Auction Chair and more Auction Committee Members! Join us!

Meetings will be held at the Center from 6 to 7:30pm on:

  • Monday, August 22
  • Monday, September 12
  • Monday, October 3
  • Monday, October 17
  • Monday, November 7

If you think you could be a great addition to our team or if you have someone to nominate, please contact Associate Director Alyson Culin at alyson@ocrcc.org or 919-968-4647.


Rape Jokes Are Not Funny

OCRCC Articles

Humor is an excellent tool to de-stress, to address pertinent issues, and to entertain. However, it seems comedy is often used as an excuse to insult and make ugly remarks. “Funny” doesn’t come to mind when this humor minimizes the struggles of people who have experienced something outside of their control, as in rape jokes.

Comedians have a platform — they operate in a position of power — so they can easily use the powerless as fodder for their “jokes.” Survivors of sexual violence deserve support and respect. They should not be made to feel triggered for the sake of a few laughs. This is just basic decency. So it must be said: Rape jokes are not funny.

We’ve heard all sorts of justifications for rape jokes, so let’s take a look at the most common ones:

“I have the right to free speech!”

Yes, we all do, which means that we can use our right to free speech to make or criticize a rape joke. No one is saying that someone should go to jail for their joke. We’re just saying that they morally shouldn’t say it. Everyone is well within their rights.

“It’s just a joke; people need to lighten up.”

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The Empowerment Model

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Contrary to rape culture and social norms that suggest sexual violence is rooted in sexual desire, lust, or uncontrollable biological urges, rape is a crime deeply embedded in power and control. When a perpetrator commits an act of sexual violence against another person, they deny that person the ability to exert control over their own body, the power to enforce their own boundaries, and the basic necessity of maintaining a sense of safety and well-being.

When a survivor discloses an experience of sexual violence to friends or family, the person hearing the disclosure may respond by trying to fix the situation. That could include things like insisting on going to the hospital, filing a report with the police, moving to a different location, or one of many other actions that prescribe a specific avenue of healing and recovery. Although this response comes from a place of good intentions, these actions often increase the feeling that the survivor has no control over their own life.

Rather than having yet another person impose their will, their concerns, and their priorities on the survivor, it is more beneficial to start from a place of empowerment.

Empowerment means helping the survivor reestablish a sense of control and agency. This may happen by allowing the survivor to recognize their own strengths and capabilities (instead of insisting that they are strong for having gone through something so horrific), helping them find the information necessary to make their own decisions (instead of making decisions without consulting them or against their wishes), and allowing them to take actions they feel comfortable with (instead of pressuring them to do things they don’t want to do).

When we don’t empower survivors to make their own choices within their personal healing process, it can feel re-traumatizing because the survivor is again in a situation beyond their control. Responding from a place of empowerment, however, restores control to the survivor and allows recovery to happen at a pace that feels comfortable.

Read more


Cupcakes & Cocktails 2016: Meet the Judges

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We are excited to announce the panel of judges for this year’s competition at Cupcakes & Cocktails! These judges will sample the creative cupcakes each contestant has concocted and choose the winner.

GeorgeGeorge Ciancolo
Chapel Hill Town Council

George and his wife Cresha have called Chapel Hill their home since 1989. George is currently an Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pathology at Duke University. Over the last 14 years, Dr. Cianciolo has served on and chaired several Chapel Hill Town advisory boards. He also co-chaired the Chapel Hill 2020 process for preparing a new Town Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted by the Chapel Hill Town Council in June 2012. George served as the President of the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation from 2009-2013, currently serves on both the Library Foundation Board as well as the Board of Directors of the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau, and in 2013 he was elected to a 4-year term on the Chapel Hill Town Council.

ShannonShannon Reisdorf
2015 Best Cupcake Winner

Shannon Reisdorf was the 2015 Cupcakes & Cocktails Champion. She was born and raised in Western New York, where her love of baking began while helping her dad make cookies. She worked in a small-town bakery during high school and college, where her favorite things to make were pies and pastries. Today she works at UNC, but still loves to bake for friends and family. She lives in Durham with her wife, cat, and three dogs. Shannon is excited to be a judge this year and is looking forward to seeing what all the other bakers have created!

AmyAmy Tornquist
Watts Grocery 

Chef Amy Tornquist has been recognized nationally for her North Carolina cuisine, first at her own Sage & Swift Gourmet Catering Company, then the Nasher Museum Café. Now, she is pleased to offer her distinctive cooking at her own Watts Grocery. Amy’s locally spun seasonal dishes have been treasured by fans for years and received rave reviews in Food & WineCountry Home, and Elegant Bride. Her menu at Watts Grocery offers a mix of classic favorites and Carolina tradition, all defined by what’s grown locally and seasonally.

AlAl Bowers
Al’s Burger Shack

Al’s Burger Shack was born out of Al Bowers’ dream to serve good food and to make people happy. In 2013, Al left Merritt’s Store & Grill to open his very own restaurant.

Since it’s opening, Al’s Burger Shack has won awards for Best New Restaurant, Best Burger in the South, and Top 5 Burgers of All Time. Al can almost always be spotted behind the counter cooking up food or conversing with his customers.

RuthRuth Gierisch
Indy Week

Ruth Gierisch is the Advertising Director at INDY Week – a company she’s been with since June of 2000. Ruth and her partner share their North Durham home with their fur babies: Tank, Little, and Jesse. Her favorite things include baked goods, gardening, animals big and small, running, and making people laugh.


Trauma-Informed Running

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Trauma-informed care is a perspective that takes into consideration the impact of trauma and the myriad trauma responses when providing services. We have seen increasing attention to providing trauma-informed care in the fields of medical and mental health services, but we have also received requests for trauma-informed dental check-ups, moving companies, and many other services. That makes sense because trauma impacts all areas of life. I recently discovered that this also applies to marathon training.

I am a runner. My running journey began almost 10 years ago when the rape crisis center at which I volunteered held an annual 5k fundraiser race. 5ks led to 10ks, which led to half marathons, and eventually marathons. My dream was to one day make it to the Boston Marathon, and through dedication and hard work, I got there. I ran the 2016 Boston Marathon, using the race as a way to turn my passion into a fundraiser in support of OCRCC, again uniting my interest in running and interest in working to end sexual violence.

I am also a social worker. In my role at the Center, I regularly work with clients who have experienced sexual violence. I bear witness to stories of personal healing, tumultuous relationships, bureaucratic response systems, and social norms that allocate blame and judgment where they don’t belong. I love what I do, but sometimes this work can be hard.

Although I had run marathons before, and although I was beyond ecstatic about running the Boston Marathon, I found it nearly impossible to train for the race. Based on what I know of marathon training and what I know of trauma, it seems to me that the physical demand of training was more difficult because of the emotional toll of my work. Read more


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