OCRCC Announces Rachel Valentine as New Executive Director

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Picture of Rachel ValentineThe Board of Directors at Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC) is excited to announce the hiring of Rachel Valentine as its new Executive Director. Although Ms. Valentine is new to the position, she is certainly no stranger to the OCRCC and the fight to end sexual violence. Rachel has been on staff with the organization since 2011, and has served as its Community Education Director for the past three years.

According to board president, Kandace Farrar, the entire board is “…elated that Rachel will be taking over this new leadership role.” Rachel was unanimously chosen by the board at its most recent meeting, following a competitive search. “During the seven years Rachel has been at the Center she has gained wide respect in the community and emerged as a leader in this field,” said Ms. Farrar.

A native of Seattle, Rachel is a 2008 graduate of UNC where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar and earned a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies with a second major in Latin American Studies and minor in Economic Justice. Prior to joining the staff at OCRCC, Rachel held a variety of leadership roles with Orange County Literacy Council, Citizen Schools, and the Ella Baker Women’s Center for Community Activism.

“This is such an exciting time for our organization,” said Rachel. “As we continue to grow into our values of excellence in care and accessibility for all, we stay grounded in our roots as a community-based organization. We are so grateful to our community for making us a trustworthy source of help, hope, and healing for so many survivors, and we invite any of you reading this now to join us in our mission as a volunteer or supporter.”

Rachel assumed her new duties on Monday, July 16. She takes the reigns from Jaclyn Gilstrap who has held the title of Interim Executive Director since March and describes Rachel as “a kind and empathetic leader, to whom staff regularly turn during times of uncertainty…” and “an extremely intelligent self-starter with a mind towards forward progress and a leadership style that is cautious, but always optimistic.”

Jaclyn, a former board member and long-time Center supporter, will continue on with OCRCC for the next several weeks to assist with the transition.

“Rachel has been an essential part of our staffing transition, and I couldn’t be more confident in her ability to lead this organization into the next era. I’m especially excited to see the ways in which she helps expand the Center’s racial equity focus and community partnerships,” she added.

Gentry Hodnett, the Center’s Development & Communications Coordinator, has worked closely with Rachel at the Center for over four years. Gentry started with OCRCC as a volunteer and claims Rachel was one of the first people who made her fall in love with the Center and the programs it provides.

“She has an incredible way of helping all people feel seen, heard, and cared for in a way that stretches beyond empathy,” Gentry said. “The entire staff is thrilled to have her at the helm of our organization and we could not imagine a better fit for this role.”


If you have any questions or would just like to say hello, Rachel can be contacted at rvalentine@ocrcc.org or 919-968-4647.

 


Standing with Charlottesville

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The Orange County Rape Crisis Center works to end sexual violence and its impact for all people. To this end, we are committed to sexual violence survivor support and prevention efforts that address the full spectrum of violence that survivors experience, and the interconnected nature of racial and sexual violence.

The following is a statement from the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) about the recent violence against protesters in Charlottesville, VA. As a member agency of NCCASA and with a commitment to diversity and nondiscrimination, we support their statement.

It is with heavy hearts that we correspond with you all today. This past weekend in Charlottesville, VA, our entire country was impacted by the violence. As a supporter of freedom of speech, I think it is important to distinguish when one person’s rights violates another person’s or group of people’s rights. What happened this weekend is a culmination of violence and privilege which continues to perpetuate a culture of racism and rape. In order to end a culture of rape we must also address all forms of oppression.

I hope as leaders in this movement, we will continue to hold our country in our hearts and lovingly hold ourselves accountable. There is much work to be done, and as consumers of media we too are triggered, and all of our bodies hold trauma. In the midst of all that is happening in our country, I want to continue to work alongside of each of you, so please take care of yourselves. We must take care of ourselves in order to continue to fight for the rights of ALL.

In solidarity,

Monika

NCCASA

The Center maintains a commitment to providing excellent and culturally competent services to survivors of all genders, including support for survivors with complex trauma histories that include racialized violence.

If you or someone you care about could use some support, please get in touch with us via our 24-Hour Help Line or by coming into our office during business hours. No appointment needed.

 


Myth or Fact: “She Asked for It”

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Myth: If a woman is raped, she probably asked for it in some way.

Fact: Only the perpetrator is responsible for the decision to violate someone. 

This myth restricts women’s behavior and places blame on survivors rather than perpetrators. Women and those who identify as female are often expected to dress or behave in certain ways and to follow strict but contradictory rules to protect themselves from harm. This myth perpetuates the double standard that reinforces an expectation of male aggressiveness and the perceived responsibility of women to avoid any behavior that could be seen as provocative.

This myth also helps distance non-survivors from survivors. By insisting that a survivor played some role, others can alleviate their own fear of assault by assuming that certain behaviors will protect them from a similar circumstance. For example, if you believe women are partially responsible for being assaulted if they were drinking, then you can take comfort in the idea that you are not at risk if you don’t drink too much. Or if you believe women are partially responsible for being assaulted if they were dressed provocatively, then you can take comfort in the idea that you are not at risk if you dress more modestly.

But offenders select their victims not based on the way they dress, but rather on their perceived vulnerability. Rapists target people who seem vulnerable to assault and who seem less likely to report them.

Asking potential victims to be responsible for protecting themselves from victimization is a form of oppression. Only perpetrators are responsible for their behavior, and they should be held accountable. Even if you believe that women should adhere to certain behavioral standards – how they dress, how much they drink, who they spend time with, etc. – the consequences of not meeting these standards should never be rape. No one “asks” to be raped, and no one deserves to be raped. There is never an excuse, an invitation, or a justification for sexual violence. Bottom line.

myth 3

This post is part of a series on Myths & Facts about Sexual Violence:

Myth #1: “He Didn’t Mean To”
Myth #2: “She Lied”
Myth #3: “She Asked For It”
Myth #4: “It Wasn’t Really Rape”


One Billion Rising for Valentine’s Day

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One Billion RisingOne in three women worldwide will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. Around seven billion people live on this planet, so that’s about one billion women and girls.

One Billion Rising is a justice campaign that doesn’t just spread the word – it takes the word around the world. On February 14, 2014, 200 countries held events outside of government buildings, homes, places of worship, and countless other locations to demand justice for women and survivors of gender violence.

In the United States, nearly 1 in 5 women will experience rape at some time in their lives. This number increases to 1 in 4 women on college campuses. And hundreds of thousands of women and girls are bought and sold into sex trafficking each year.

Recent events on colleges campuses across America have shown that coming together as a community, fighting victim blaming, and not allowing colleges and universities to sweep sexual assault under the rug have been hugely successful — but we are not finished. Read more


Protections for Transgender Survivors under VAWA

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The 2012 winter may not have been as cold as this past year, but it was surely chilling when the 112th Congress failed to reauthorize an amended version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). These amendments included enhanced protections for immigrant, Native American and tribal, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) survivors of domestic and sexual violence. But with the 113th Congress, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 was passed and signed into law on March 7, 2013. Although not all the provisions were adopted into the new law, considerable steps were taken in protecting a population that is so often overlooked: the transgender and gender non-conforming community.

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Paint the Town Teal for SAAM!

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April is SAAMWelcome to SAAM 2014! We’re excited for another month of awesome awareness-raising events and projects. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about sexual violence and educate ourselves on how to prevent it. By working together, we can make a difference in our mission to stop sexual violence and its impact. Join us in our advocacy efforts, and don’t forget to wear your teal!

Aside from the many awesome events we have planned — cupcakes, anyone? — there are also a few projects you can join in on from the comfort of your couch or while on the go. So whether you’re in your jammies with a laptop or out-and-about with your smartphone, check out how you can get involved…

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Safe Passage of Safe Harbor

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Safe HarborNo one can deny that the most recent North Carolina Legislative Session was, to say the least, controversial.  But amid all the controversy came the passage of SB 683, otherwise known as the Safe Harbor Act. We first brought you news of this legislation back in April.  At the time, it was in the form of HB 825, a bill seeking to eliminate criminal prosecution of prostituted minors.  In their final vote on the bill, the NC House removed that particular provision, but it was thankfully restored by the Conference Committee before being unanimously passed on July 25 and signed into law by the governor on July 29, 2013.

Thanks to the Safe Harbor Act, North Carolina is now a safer and more supportive state for prostituted minors and all survivors of trafficking.  In addition to prostituted minors no longer facing criminal prosecution, all victims of trafficking can now have their prostitution offenses erased from their criminal record when it can be proven that they were forced into prostitution or were under 18 at the time of the offense. Read more


Transgender Awareness Week

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Transgender Awareness Week 2013For many, November marks the time of the year to be thankful for everyone and everything we hold near and dear to us. In the trans*gender community and its allies, the end of November signifies more than that. This November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day that memorializes those who have been killed because of anti-trans violence.

Anti-trans violence is very real and its numbers are extremely disturbing. In 2012, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported 25 hate-related homicides against the LGBTQ community in the United States. Of that 25, more than half of the victims were trans women of color, which is a shocking 40% increase of violence against trans women since 2011.  The transgender community faces particularly high rates of public discrimination as well, including unemployment; extreme poverty; harassment in schools, jobs, and on streets; and higher rates of physical and sexual assault.

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Call to Action! Proposed bill would de-fund sexual assault and DV agencies

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Update: SB 664 was withdrawn in committee. Thank you for all your calls and emails to your representatives asking them to stand against this bill! However, the budget committee removed funding for displaced homemakers programs from the NC budget, which was one piece of SB 664. This would impact local agencies such as the Compass Center. Visit their website for more information about this issue.

Urgent call to action:  contact your representatives today to urge them to protect the Center, our sister organizations, and survivors of sexual and relationship violence across North Carolina by opposing SB 664!

SB 664 threatens to severely undermine services to survivors in our state by restructuring state funding to victim services agencies and establishing impractical eligibility requirements for that funding.  For example, under the new requirements, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and the Compass Center would be ineligible for funding because Orange County does not have a domestic violence shelter.  And we are not alone.

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New Bill Aims to Protect Child Victims of Human Trafficking

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Did you know that today in North Carolina, children who are victims of human trafficking can be prosecuted?  It’s true.  In our state, the commercial sexual exploitation of children is legally viewed in many cases as prostitution, a crime committed by the minor in question rather than against him or her.

The US Department of Justice estimates that the most frequent age of entry into the commercial sex industry in the United States is 12-14 years.  And what’s more, GEMS reports that 70-90% of commercially sexually exploited children have a history of child sexual abuse.  Current practice is to treat these already vulnerable and traumatized children as criminals — despite the fact that they are not choosing prostitution themselves but are being forced or coerced into it (i.e. trafficked) by their pimps/boyfriends.  But, as of this week, change is on the horizon!

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