Purple Ribbon of Excellence

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purple-ribbon-of-excellenceWe are excited to announce that the Orange County Rape Crisis Center has been awarded the inaugural Purple Ribbon of Excellence! Presented by the Training and Education Committee of the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission, the Purple Ribbon of Excellence recognized the Center’s efforts to prevent child sexual abuse through our community education programs.

Over the last thirty years, our Safe Touch program for children and our Start Strong program for teens have helped prevent child sexual abuse by teaching children and adolescents to identify inappropriate behavior, to develop an understanding of consent and healthy relationships, and to stand against sexual violence in their schools and communities. These programs are designed for continuous learning, which means that students in every public school in Orange County will receive Safe Touch (preK through 5th grade) or Start Strong (7th and 9th grade) programming year after year, so the skills and knowledge they gain are consistently reinforced and built upon. Conversations that start with learning your own bodily autonomy and boundaries eventually shift to how these ideas apply to treating and respecting others. Read more


SafeTouch Success Story

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alexis and puppetsThe Center has presented SafeTouch to kids in our community for over 30 years. These violence prevention education programs use evidence-based best practices in age-appropriate lessons to promote safety and reduce child sexual abuse. The curriculum is continually reviewed and updated with teacher and parent input.

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is unfortunately much more common than many people realize. Darkness to Light (D2L), a national organization to end child abuse, estimates that about 1 in 10 children experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. Even more children experience non-contact sexual abuse. Only about a third of kids tell someone when they experience abuse. CSA occurs across all demographic groups and can have long-lasting negative impacts such as physical and mental health problems, emotional and behavioral issues, and poor academic performance.

Though the problem of CSA looms large, the Center has a successful prevention program on multiple counts. First, by sheer numbers, we are very successful in getting these crucial public safety messages out to the county. We present SafeTouch programs in every classroom of every elementary school in both local school districts. Overall, we reached 14,805 youth and adults in 865 education programs during the 2013-2014 school year. Read more


Supporter Spotlight: Sonna Loewenthal

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“I truly believe that the Center’s programs help armor children against child sexual abuse and bullying and provide the words and process for them to disclose ongoing or past abuse.”

“I truly believe that the Center’s programs help armor children against child sexual abuse and bullying and provide the words and process for them to disclose ongoing or past abuse.”

Sonna Loewenthal has worn many hats at the Center. She has acted as a Board member, a Community Educator, and chair of the Nominating and Personnel Committees. Through all her different positions, Sonna has offered the Center invaluable support. We would like to both thank her and highlight her experiences at the Center.

After hearing positive reviews of the Center, Sonna decided to give her time as a member of the Board of Directors in 2004. During her tenure, she spent time as a chair of the Nominating Committee as well as chair of the Personnel Committee. Even having completed her term on the Board of Directors, Sonna still continues to serve on the Personnel Committee 10 years later!

Though her time on the Board and its committees allowed her to better understand the agency and its workings, Sonna finds her role as a Community Educator the most rewarding.

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Educate Yourself While Educating Others

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AliceI started training as a Community Educator during my first semester of my first year of college. Going into the first meeting, I was pretty nervous — the room was filled with folks that were older than me as well as a couple of fellow college students. But we bonded quickly, and they became some of the people who helped me survive my first semester of school.

The college environment can be incredibly stressful for women and their allies in the fight against sexual assault. It’s easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed with the number of students who perpetuate oppressive ideas. The best way to combat this feeling is to put that anger and frustration into direct action — working with the Center is one of the best ways to do that.

Trainings are long, but filled with love and purpose. The time commitment is significant but so deeply worth it, and you really can’t have a bond with your fellow trainees without putting in that time.

Working with the Center gave me the chance to learn about rape culture in a safe environment. I wasn’t being graded, I had many opportunities to ask questions about the cause and effect of oppression, and I learned how to exercise self-care.

It was also a great chance for me, as a Women’s & Gender Studies major, to get a chance to see what day-to-day life is like while working for a direct service nonprofit. When you think of a rape crisis center, you tend to imagine somewhere cold and depressing, with lots of crying women and weird smells. But the Center radiates love and warmth. Every person there takes their job very seriously — but there’s also lots of joy and laughter in the room.

In the education trainings, we’re taught how to keep a conversation moving, dig deep, and avoid common conversational pitfalls. These skills come in handy in so many areas of life, and it’s great to learn them in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

I loved having the chance to connect with other students as well as adults from around the community. It’s so nice to get a break from the campus bubble and be around folks who are old enough to give you advice but are not, you know… your parents. It’s like getting to hang out with your cool queer aunts/uncles and help prevent sexual assault. Does it get any better than that?

Alice Wilder majors in Women’s & Gender Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has supported the Center in a number of capacities, including Start Strong Educator and Social Media Intern.

Safe Touch Educator training begins in August 2014, and Start Strong Educator training will begin in September. Find out more about our volunteer programs and how to apply at ocrcc.org/ce


Capstone Team Assesses Education Programs

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The UNC Capstone Team: L-R: Trang Tran, Ada Nwadugbo, Maryka Lier, Sarah Cooper, and Deena Fulton

The UNC Capstone Team:
L-R: Trang Tran, Ada Nwadugbo, Maryka Lier, Sarah Cooper, and Deena Fulton

As a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) student at UNC-Chapel Hill, I had the great pleasure of being able to work with the Center, a team of my peers, and UNC faculty advisors to evaluate some of the Center’s school-based prevention programs. Instead of a thesis, the MPH program requires students to do year-long Capstone projects with local organizations, and five of us chose to work with the Center.

I was excited to be able to do my Capstone project on sexual violence prevention because I’d been interested in the field for a long time, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to work with a rape crisis center before. I was also really excited about the project itself: we evaluated the fourth and fifth grade Safe Touch programs, which focus on bystander intervention and cyber- and sexual bullying, as well as the seventh grade Start Strong program, which focuses on addressing gender stereotypes, differentiating between flirting and sexual harassment, and bystander intervention.

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Partners in Prevention

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Partners in PreventionThe Center is an official “Partner in Prevention,” a nationally-recognized public standard to end child sexual abuse (CSA). The designation was awarded for our commitment to protecting children by training 100% of our staff on how to prevent, recognize the signs, and react responsibly to CSA.

The “Partner in Prevention” designation was created as a national standard to help parents and caregivers recognize organizations who take CSA prevention seriously by training staff and implementing effective prevention policies. The training and designation award is provided by Darkness to Light. D2L has championed the movement to end CSA since its founding in 2000 and now has education programs in 49 states and 15 foreign countries.

D2L’s training curriculum points out that CSA is pervasive in a society where it is repressed and not discussed. Though 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18, less than a third of cases are reported. Thousands of organizations across the United States and Canada are now seeking out a dialogue for prevention, and they are sending parents and the community a message with the Partner in Prevention distinction.

Rachel Valentine, the Center’s Rape Prevention Educator Coordinator, is a trained facilitator for D2L’s Stewards of Children program. In addition to training our own staff, she provides prevention education for adults across the Orange County community. The Stewards of Children program is especially designed for parents and caregivers of children. In the 2012-2013 academic year, Rachel trained 141 adults in proven child abuse prevention techniques.

For more information:


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    • 866-WE-LISTEN (866-935-4783)
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