OCRCC Pushes for the Reauthorization of VAWA

OCRCC Articles

In April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC) launched its Policy Initiative. The OCRCC hosted a meeting with the office of Senator Thom Tillis to advocate for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), increased funding for the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program, and to lift the cap on the Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA) Fund. In June, the OCRCC’s Policy Fellow, Abby Cooper, continued this legislative work by meeting with the offices of Senator Richard Burr and Representative David Price in Washington D.C. The OCRCC relies on federal funding through VAWA, VOCA, and RPE to serve survivors of sexual violence and provide violence prevention programming to the community. Support from our elected policymakers is crucial to show survivors that we see them, believe them, and want to support them throughout their healing process.

This past year, the OCRCC served 658 survivors, a number that has significantly increased over the past 10 years. Furthermore, the OCRCC has expanded the types of services offered to clients to go beyond one-time crisis intervention. A growing staff now provides therapy, support groups, legal and medical advocacy, and case management services in both English and Spanish. Not only is the OCRCC serving more clients, but clients are returning for support and assistance at higher rates than in previous years; the average client receives OCRCC services on over five different occasions. At a time when the OCRCC and other rape crisis centers across North Carolina and the country are experiencing increased demand for services, support from the federal government is critical. Yet, Congress has not yet reauthorized the expired VAWA. In order to provide the highest standard of care to all clients who seek OCRCC services or educational programming, VAWA must be reauthorized, appropriations for RPE must increase, and the spending cap on VOCA must be lifted.

VAWA was authorized in 1994 as the first federal legislation to address sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking (the four crimes). VAWA provides critical legal protections, authorizes multiple grant programs to transform law enforcement and the legal system’s response to the four crimes, and funds organizations that provide direct services to survivors of the four crimes. The authorization of VAWA brought sexual violence into the public conversation and facilitated a shift in societal norms around issues of sexual violence. Twenty-five years later, VAWA has been reauthorized three times to integrate updated research and best practices related to sexual violence prevention and intervention. VAWA has drastically improved the criminal justice system’s response to sexual violence and expanded the capacity of direct service providers to support a greater number of survivors.

However, VAWA’s work is not complete – sexual violence still permeates our society and is far too common. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that someone in the United States is sexually assaulted every 92 seconds. Yet, only five out of every 1,000 perpetrators ends up behind bars. VAWA, with comprehensive updates, is necessary to increase perpetrator accountability, protect vulnerable populations, and support survivors of the four crimes.

While VAWA has expired, grant programs will remain funded for the remainder of the fiscal year. H.R. 1585, or the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, passed in the House on April 4 (NC District 4 Congressman David Price voted YES), but has not yet been introduced in the Senate. The 2019 reauthorization bill is based on extensive research and outreach to direct service providers, experts in the field, survivors, and other stakeholders, and contains new provisions which are crucial to address gaps in coverage and expand funding for services and primary prevention.

VAWA must be reauthorized in order to ensure survivors can access necessary care in a timely manner. Rolling back protections is not acceptable, and neither is maintaining the status quo; the new provisions in H.R. 1585 are essential to protect all survivors of sexual violence and increase the capacity of rape crisis centers and other direct service providers to serve survivors. The #MeToo movement encouraged more survivors to speak out about their experiences and seek help, which has been reflected by the increased demand for OCRCC services. Every survivor who comes to the OCRCC for support has a unique story and requires customized care. VAWA makes it possible for OCRCC staff to respond to each client and offer the type of care survivors need to heal.

You can help advocate for the reauthorization of VAWA too! Call the offices of Senator Burr and Senator Tillis and tell them why you support the reauthorization of VAWA. You can also send letters or tweet. Contact information and sample scripts/tweets are below:

Senator Richard Burr @SenatorBurr
Winston-Salem, NC Office: 2000 West First Street Suite 508, Winston-Salem, NC 27104
Washington, DC Office: 217 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Senator Thom Tillis @SenThomTillis
Raleigh, NC Office: 310 New Bern Ave, Suite 122, Raleigh, NC 27601
Washington, DC Office: 113 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510

*Sample call script:

My name is [your name] and I am calling from [your location and, if you are affiliated with a domestic violence or sexual assault program, the name of your program]. I urge [Senator Burr/Tillis, depending on which office you called] to support the bipartisan H.R. 1585, the Violence Against Women Act of 2019. The Violence Against Women Act is one of the pillars of the federal response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. [Tell your Senator why VAWA has been important to your community. If you are from Orange County, cite the OCRCC’s work in the community. Otherwise, cite a local domestic violence or rape crisis center’s work, or, if you have a story you feel comfortable sharing, share your experience]. Every time VAWA has been reauthorized, it has been strengthened based on our increased understanding of gender-based violence. The Me Too era, when survivors are demanding change and stronger protections, is not the time to roll back essential protections or even to maintain the status quo. H.R. 1585 maintains protections for all victims, makes vital investments in sexual assault prevention, ensures sexual predators who prey on Native women are held accountable, protects victims of domestic violence from intimate partner homicide, and increases victims’ access to safe housing and economic stability.

*Sample tweets:

  • The bipartisan VAWA (#HR1585), introduced by @RepKarenBass & @RepBrianFitz, includes key enhancements for all survivors of domestic and sexual violence. @Senhandle can I count on you to help get this bill across the finish line?! #VAWA19 #VAWA4ALL
  • The Violence Against Women Act (#HR1585) is a bipartisan bill. @Senatorhandle can I count on you to co-sponsor this #VAWA4ALL survivors? #VAWA19
  • The Violence Against Women Act (#HR1585) is a critical bill that enhances protections for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. @Senatorhandle can I could on you to support this bill?
  • The Orange County Rape Crisis Center supports the reauthorization of #VAWA. @Senatorhandle, will you stand up for survivors of sexual violence too?

*Adapted from the National Task Force to End Sexual & Domestic Violence

Abby Cooper is OCRCC’s Policy Fellow doing important work on the ground.

Day of Giving

OCRCC Articles

Join Orange County Rape Crisis Center for our 1st Annual Day of Giving On Tuesday, June 25!

Q: What is the DAY OF GIVING?

A: I’m glad you asked! It’s our first annual, 24-hour online fundraising extravaganza when your gift can go further to support the expanding needs for survivors and prevention services in our community. Our fiscal year is ending June 30th, and we’re still about $5,000 away from reaching our Annual Appeal goal for the year. For one day only, your gift will have twice the impact and will be matched up to $1,000 by a generous donor.

This Day of Giving will take place Tuesday, June 25, from 12 AM to 11:59 PM. You can make donations during this 24‐hour period through ocrcc.org/donate, Facebook, or PayPal. Our ability to keep breaking the silence around sexual violence depends on generous donors like you.

We need you to help us spread the word and make a direct difference in the lives of the survivors, schools, businesses, and loved ones we serve.

Q: Remind me why you need my money?

A: Sure! As the #MeToo movement has picked up steam, we’ve risen to meet our community needs with additional support, education, and advocacy. In the last year, our numbers for walk-in clients and medical accompaniments have increased by over 400%, and we’re managing more active cases right now than we’ve ever had at one time before. Additionally, our average contact time with each client has more than doubled, showing that the needs for long term case management and care are only growing day by day.

Though the conversation about sexual violence has gained momentum over the last couple of years, funding for local rape crisis centers doing the work on the ground remains as sparse as ever. Our services depend on individual donations from regular folks like you to provide stability, when government funds aren’t guaranteed, and to fill in gaps for unrestricted funding on things grants can’t cover.

By helping us reach our end of year goal, you’ll help us start the new fiscal year strong and give us the momentum to continue to support survivors with new initiatives like our new online helpline that will launch this July.

Q: I don’t have a lot to give. Should I just skip the DAY OF GIVING?

A: No way! Even a small gift goes a long way in reaching our goal since it will be matched dollar for dollar (up to $1,000) by a generous donor. On this day your $15 gift becomes $30, which can cover transportation costs to and from our free bilingual therapy program for one of our clients.

Q: Okay, I’ll donate. What do I do now?

A: You’re incredible! We’ve tried to make giving as easy as possible. You can make tax-deductible contributions during this 24‐hour period through our website, Facebook, or PayPal.

For Singer Jess Klein, the Power of the Voice Benefit Concert is Just Another Way to Give Back to OCRCC

OCRCC Articles , ,

Hillsborough singer-songwriter Jess Klein has a voice that Mojo magazine calls “one of those voices you want to crawl up close to the speakers to listen to.”   Fresh off of a 4-week tour through England and Ireland, Jess returns to North Carolina to perform at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center’s first annual “Power of the Voice Benefit Concert” On Saturday, June 1, along with Lydia Loveless and Reese McHenry.   For Jess, this is just another way that to give to an organization whose mission and values align so closely with her own.

“After the 2016 election I felt a need to get involved,” recalls Jess. “In my music I talk about personal and political things. I wanted to be with people who were taking action to create a better world in a more day-to-day way, not just for art. So I started volunteering once a week as a receptionist at OCRCC.”

Jess spent a year as on “office volunteer” at OCRCC, coming in weekly to do whatever tasks the staff needed help with.  She greeted clients, made copies, put together brochures, and helped craft pins for the Punk Cuts fundraiser. While the tasks may seem less than glamorous, having volunteers is crucial to the organization’s work and often uplifting for volunteers like Jess.

“For me it was one of the highlights of my week to be around the people who work there,” said Jess. “Everyone is very open and communicative and listens to each other. It felt like whatever I was feeling there was space for it there. I remember thinking, ‘if the world could be run like this organization is run, the world would be in a much better place.’”

Jess hopes that the “Power of the Voice” raises funds for the organization’s prevention work, including the SafeTouch and StartStrong programs at local schools.  She also wants people to know how much respect she has for OCRCC and it’s approach.

There’s a lot of places that people can donate their money, but from my personal experience having been inside the organization, it’s very well run, their objectives are very clear and they’re very holistic about reaching them,” she said.  “I’m thrilled to be able to be part of the benefit and I’m really grateful to the rape crisis center for all that they do. It’s so important for people to feel safe and empowered with their body and with their voices.

“Power of the Voice” takes place on June 1 at the Local 506. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. Visit etix to buy tickets and donate in advance.

To learn more about Jess Klein’s new album “Back to My Green” visit her official website.


Get to Know Our Director of Clinical and Wellness Services, Sabrina Calle-Bunyi

OCRCC Articles , , , , ,

Sabrina Calle-Bunyi  is the Director of Clinical and Wellness Services at OCRCC.  Sabrina oversees our therapy program, support groups, and workshops.  As a licensed mental health professional, she is also one of our therapists, providing therapy to survivors and secondary survivors in both Spanish and English. These services are free and can include up to 16 sessions. For more information on those programs, give us a call at 919-968-4647.

Below is a Q&A with Sabrina.

Q: How long have you been a therapist?

I have been a social worker since 2016, but the journey started way before that.  I worked in social services for 10 years before becoming a therapist practicing in a variety of settings, including: a community health center, a group home for teenagers, a juvenile detention center, a youth organization, a psychiatric hospital, and a legal defense firm before focusing my work in the field of trauma as a clinical therapist.

Q: What made you want to be a therapist who works with survivors of SA?

While I have extensive experience working with folks presenting with symptoms of anxiety, depression, or challenging life transitions, I have come to specialize in helping Spanish speakers, teens, young adults, and those with marginalized identities in their healing from relational trauma, including experiences of sexual violence. I would say my focus on the treatment of trauma symptoms became a specialty influenced from both personal professional experiences. As a trauma survivor, I have intimate experience with how acutely disruptive trauma is to not only the mind, but also to the physical body. Experiences of trauma can radically transform how and where pain manifests in our body and our social interactions with others due to a fractured relationship with ourselves.

When trauma stems from sexual violence, the disconnection and mistrust to one’s physical body is often at issue. Having been to therapy to heal from my own experiences of trauma, I took note of how and why certain interventions were or were not chosen. I kept an internal catalog of what approaches helped and which ones very much did not. Through my education and work experiences, I learned why some interventions are more successful than others in healing from trauma and eventually developed my own ideology of practice. As a professional, it became my life’s work to honor the experiences of trauma as uniquely situated in accordance to a person’s specific cultural or social orientation and consider the many factors at play. I focus on alternative treatment options that seek to heal the entire person (i.e. mind and body) versus a cognitive, talk-therapy approach. I have developed the current therapy program at OCRCC with the therapeutic ideology of integrating the mind and body into our treatment approaches. Survivors are resonating with this holistic and integrative therapeutic approach, so we know we are on the right path to providing the best care we can to those in need.

Q: What is your approach when working with a client?

My approach is client-centered. All of our clients are voluntary. Clients present what they would like to discuss, they decide on their therapy goals and suggest the pace accordingly.  I work holistically & collaboratively to help folks re-discover their voice, identify their inherent strengths, and to trust their intuition & bodies, again.

Q: What kind of interventions do you like to use?

We use a combination of interventions, including but not limited to: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR); Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT); Art and Music Therapy; Somatic experiencing techniques; and mindfulness practices, to name a few. We do not limit our intervention choices, as we like to allow a client’s presenting need lead us to the right intervention for that specific client. Thankfully, having formal training in various interventions allows that flexibility.

Q: What else can you tell us about therapy?

Therapy is not easy. It is for the brave. What do I mean by that? I mean to say that the process of looking at your patterns of behavior alongside another spectator (your therapist) is not easy. It takes a certain level of courage to discuss and approach topics you may have never discussed with anyone before. Additionally, there is so much stigma around accessing mental health services that often people do not present to therapy until things have been disrupted enough by their traumatic experiences to reach out for help. Maybe they lost a job, a partner, a friend, or have already fully isolated from places or people they used to enjoy being around. People arrive wanting to fix it fast, and this is not how therapy works. There is no quick fix and it can be discouraging to hear this truth particularly given in our current social culture of instant gratification.

The reality is that healing is obtainable, but it takes commitment and a trusted therapist. Key to the success of therapy is having a therapist you just vibe with. Someone with whom you can build a strong and trusted relationship with is very important to the process. The search for the right therapist can feel daunting, but stick with it and you will feel stronger, more capable, and recognize and overall shift that will help you to move through toward healing. It is worth it to seek help and find someone whose approach and therapeutic style works for what you need. We all deserve the space to heal.

Incarcerated Survivors of Sexual Assault Face Retraumatization and Barriers to Healing

OCRCC Articles , , ,

Students and community members stopped by the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in Chapel Hill on April 23 to write letters to incarcerated survivors with messages of caring and support during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

On April 23rd, we hosted a letter writing event directed to incarcerated survivors of sexual violence here at the OCRCC office. It was an evening to hold and care for survivors who, due to the combined tragedies of incarceration and sexual violence, could not be in the room with us. Noname’s music underscored conversations about the logistics of supervised and unsupervised probation (we were trying to understand what Cyntoia Brown, the sex trafficking survivor who recently had a successful campaign to commute her sentence, would experience when she is finally out of prison this August). People drew pictures and wrote messages of love and support inside beautifully hand-printed cards. Each survivor on our list got at least three cards!

We held this event because we know that there are particular barriers to paths of healing and recovery to survivors who are incarcerated. Survivors of sexual violence can be arrested for actions they took to navigate their survival in dangerous and abusive situations, for racist criminalization of their trauma processing, or on charges that are not directly related to their survivor status. Once incarcerated, survivors may have difficulty accessing services that are available to survivors on the outside. Access to mental and physical health services is limited, if truly available at all, in prisons and detention centers, and opportunities to speak with a trained professional or companion are limited. Phone services and letters all cost money, and are monitored, meaning that disclosing survivor status in a private letter to a friend or companion may mean inadvertently disclosing survivor status to all prison staff, prompting an investigation the survivor may not be ready for. Simply the barriers to movement can be another difficulty: survivors who are incarcerated can’t simply take a walk or go get a cup of tea when they experience triggers or crises.

The experience of being incarcerated can be traumatizing in itself, and particularly so for survivors of sexual violence. The loss of privacy, lack of control over what happens to their body, prevention from having their own resources, and prevailing culture of disbelief and suspicion that incarcerated people face can mimic some characteristics of abusive relationships. Survivors may be made vulnerable to triggers or flashbacks, or first-time victimization during routine pat-downs, strip searches, and monitored showers. Additionally, we know that sexual violence can be perpetrated in prisons and detention centers, and in North Carolina, it is extremely rare for a survivor of sexual violence in prison to receive institutional assistance after reporting sexual violence.

Thousands of incarcerated people are impacted by sexual violence: 2012 study by the Bureau of Statistics (BJS) found that 86% of incarcerated women are survivors of sexual violence. Another 2012 survey found that 10% of formerly incarcerated people had been sexually abused during their most recent period of incarceration, which, due to the BJS’ survey methods, is likely to be an underrepresentation of the actual rate. Thousands of people are being retraumatized and denied access to services through the cycles of sexual violence and incarceration.

Surveys show that 86% of incarcerated women are survivors of sexual violence. Sometimes, survivors are re-traumatized. The prevailing culture of disbelief and suspicion that incarcerated people face can mimic some characteristics of abusive relationships. Writing letters and signing petitions are two ways that allies can show survivors that they are not alone.

So, what can we do? Like with any survivor of sexual violence, offering a believing and supportive presence can be a powerful step on the path to recovery. Often, the least expensive and most accessible method of communication with incarcerated people is by mail. Through letters, we can let survivors know that they are heard, and provide crisis counseling and safety planning that we could offer to clients on the phone. If you would like the list of survivors we used on April 23rd to send a message of support, email me and I’ll send it along!

Another action we can take is signing petitions! Several of the survivors we wrote on the 23rd have petitions to the governor to commute, or decrease, their sentences. One incarcerated survivor, Brandy Scott, is a Black transgender woman who has organized support and advocacy for other incarcerated queer and trans people, and has written an after-school curriculum for gang members. You can sign Brandy’s petition here, and find other petitions for survivors here.

Finally, I’d like to highlight that incarcerated people are the ones taking the lead in fighting for their right to heal and be free from traumatizing conditions. One of my favorite zines, Queer Fire, shows a history of incarcerated queer people organizing against sexual violence in the 1970s, and this blog post from prisoner Michael Kimble describes organizing against sexual violence in Alabama prisons today. I’d encourage you to check out these readings!  The conditions of sexual violence and incarceration may seem daunting, but there are strong communities of survivors, incarcerated people, and allies, who are working together to create a world that is safer for survivors and free from sexual violence.

By Online Help Assistant
Orange County Rape Crisis Center

Cardinal Track Club Donates $9,400 to Benefit Sexual Violence Prevention Education

OCRCC Articles , , , ,

On April 30, the Cardinal Track Club presented the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and five other nonprofits with checks to support their work. Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle (bottom right) acknowledged how valuable Cardinal Track Club’s contribution is both to the organizations and community of Carrboro

One in four girls and 1 in six boys will be sexually violated before they turn 18. As many as 93% of victims under the age of 18 know their abuser. That’s why prevention education to children is a critical part of the Orange County Rape Crisis Center’s work.  Our SafeTouch and StartStrong programs teach children how to recognize inappropriate behavior and react when someone makes them uncomfortable.  This work is primarily funded through donations, not grants. We could not do it without the support of donors and community partners like the Cardinal Track Club.

For the past 10 years, the Cardinal Track Club has been supporting our work. They host three races in Carrboro every year and donate the registration fees to our organization as well as five other community partners.  On April 30th, they presented the Center with a check for $9,400. This donation means 7,000 children in will receive sexual abuse prevention education in school across Greater Orange County.

The Orange County Rape Crisis Center Executive Director Rachel Valentine received the donation from the Cardinal Track Club and plans to use the donation to fund staff to provide prevention education trainings in schools.

Cardinal Track Club events are staples for runners of all skill levels in the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community thanks to their shorter distances (10-miles or less) and family-friendly atmosphere. As Carrboro is the  “Paris of the Pidemont,” the Cardinal Track Clubs races are collectively known as “Le Tour de Carrboro” and include the “Carrboro 10K” in October, the “Gallop and Gorge 8K” on Thanksgiving, and the “Four on the Fourth” race on July 4.  In addition to creating inclusive, memorable community experiences, the races help foster stronger and healthier community through the money they raise for nonprofits.

“I’m so glad the funds are being used for prevention programs in the schools. My kids attended the Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools and participated in those programs, so I know how valuable they are,” said Sandra Padden, Chair of the Cardinal Track Club. “A big part of the reason the club has chosen OCRCC as a community partner is that not only does the organization provide resources for survivors of sexual abuse but it also works to end sexual violence and its impact in our community.”

To learn more about the Orange County Rape Crisis Center’s SafeTouch and StartStrong programs, click on the corresponding links.

Registration for the Cardinal Track Club’s  Four on the Fourth event is open on their website.

Celebrating Our New Space and 45th Anniversary

OCRCC Articles

We’re now conveniently located on the second floor of the same building at 1506 E. Franklin St. in Chapel Hill.

Thank you to everyone who attended our Open House/45th Anniversary event on March 22. We were so happy to see so many elected officials, volunteers, donors, board members and other supporters in attendance. It is thanks in large part to all of your support that we were able to move to a larger office with more space to serve clients. For those who couldn’t attend, here’s a look at our new space:

When clients come to see us, they’ll walk into a private reception area where they’ll be greeted by a friendly face, like that of our lovely staff member Stephanie. Adjacent to the reception area is a cozy space where new clients can talk one-on-one with an advocate to learn about the services available to them through the Center, including therapy and support groups.

We now have more space for large gatherings including support groups, trainings, and meetings with community members. We’ve already hosted a Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Crisis Response Committee (DVSARC) meeting and a Latinx DVSARC meeting as well as workshops in the new space.










Open House/45th Anniversary Photo Gallery:



5 Tips for Talking to Your Children About Their Bodies and Consent

OCRCC Articles

Aryana Ainolhayat is the Youth Education Coordinator for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and teaches Safe Touch at schools across Orange County. In addition to the classroom presentations, parents receive letters explaining the program and free resources available to them through the Center.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Nationally, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18.  The Orange County Rape Crisis Center regularly provides prevention education at schools Orange County through the Safe Touch program.  In addition to classroom education, there are things that adults can do to help prevent children from becoming victims of sexual abuse.

You have heard it everywhere, from your doctor to your mechanic, that prevention is key. However, we do not always jump to prevention as a key way to fight child abuse. Why is this? It’s because acknowledging that prevention is a powerful tool means acknowledging that child sexual abuse permeates every social, economic, racial, and religious group. It means acknowledging that “stranger danger” is not enough. It means that we need to have constant conversations with our children about their bodies, about consent, and about who they can turn to for help. If you have never done this and are stressed about how to do this- do not fret! The Orange County Rape Crisis Center has a wide variety of resources to help begin this conversation from books, to conversation starters, to online resources. While you may always call or email us with specific questions, below are some simple tips and tricks to navigating this topic with your child. Please remember that every child is different, and you will learn what works best for your own!

1.Help them understand which parts of their body are private without making those parts shameful or taboo. They should be able to distinguish their private parts just like they would their elbow or their nose.

2. Clearly distinguish the times when it is okay for a grown up to touch their private parts for example- “When mommy/daddy needs to change the baby’s diaper, when the doctor gives you an exam, etc.”

3.Practice active consent with your child and make it clear to anyone who spends time with your child to practice consent as well. This means asking before you touch their body (and vice versa) and listening to when they look uncomfortable or say no.

4. Normalize asking them about their feelings especially if they are involved in a new activity or if someone new enters their life. “How was your day at camp? What made you happy at school? Was anything confusing or uncomfortable?”

5. Create a safety plan with your child. Ask them to brainstorm different people they trust who they can tell if they every have a problem. Talk about how to contact each person.

Prevention education is a vital component to fighting child sexual abuse. If you would like to receive more information, contact the Orange County Rape Crisis Center at 919-968-4647 or visit www.ocrcc.org. If you or a loved one has had a negative sexual experience, call our confidential 24-hour help line at 1-866-WE-LISTEN.

Aryana Ainolhayat is the Youth Education Coordinator for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and teaches Safe Touch at several schools in Orange County. Safe Touch uses research-based practices and age-appropriate material for children ages 3-12, along with companion materials for their parents. Safe Touch can be provided on request to schools or to other community groups.


OCRCC Statement on ICE Raids in NC

OCRCC Articles

The OCRCC mourns and condemns the sudden and violent removal of over 225 North Carolinians from their homes and families by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over the past week. Day after day we wake to the horrifying news that our neighbors have been snatched from their children’s hands while walking them to school, taken from their places of work without the chance to warn their families, and rounded up as collateral in what ICE officials have publically indicated is a politically motivated retaliation against local communities for their election of sheriffs who have resisted the ICE agenda.

Those of us who have felt the terror of interpersonal violence– as survivors and as advocates supporting survivors day in and day out—feel a twinge of recognition in these stories. Whether interpersonal or state-sponsored, terror is terror. Trauma is trauma. Any violation of the right to safety and bodily autonomy is a violation we must fight. What’s more, we must recognize that our mission to end sexual violence and its impact requires that we stand up against any move to increase vulnerability for already vulnerable people. Over the last couple of years as anti-immigrant rhetoric and violence has ramped up across the country, agencies like ours that provide critical services to immigrant and refugee populations see how hard it has become for clients to continue (or even begin) their healing. Survivors living at the intersections of interpersonal and state violence face difficult questions that interfere with an already daunting walk down the path towards healing — questions like: How can I speak up about the violence I’ve experienced if I can’t trust the very institutions that I’m supposed to report to? How can I seek relief without risking deportation for myself or my harm-doer, on whom my family relies? Why risk the drive to my therapy appointments? How can I concentrate on healing from my sexual abuse when I wake up every day terrified that I won’t get to see my children again?

The OCRCC envisions a just and equitable world free of sexual violence and all other forms of oppression. We stand in solidarity with the brave Latinx-led movements organizing for an end to the ICE raids and support for the families already impacted by them. If you are looking for ways to support their work, see below for a list of helpful actions compiled by local Latinx leaders.

Plan for Safety
Know Your Rights and learn what do to if ICE is at your door. Even if they’re not there for you, knowing your rights can provide a critical safety measure to someone else in your home or place of business.

Extra Credit: If you are a business owner or part of an organization, consider your policies regarding what you do when ICE and/or law enforcement knocks at your door.  Decide what your organization’s protocol will be to keep everyone safe, and make sure everyone (especially those who may answer the door or greet customers) knows it, too.

If you can, please OFFER RIDES to those you know who are undocumented/have DACA.

The following guide to safety planning was prepared for our client services staff by a local attorney. Please feel free to share this with anyone you work with:

Steps clients can take, in order to prepare things, in the event of being detained/deported:

  1. Create a power of attorney
    • Burgos will be in the office on Thursday 2/21 and she is happy to do those for clients free of charge

If a survivor is pulled over by an ICE agent or detained by an ICE agent:

  1. Tell the agent that they are asserting their right to remain silent (they must say this, they cannot simply remain silent, the right must be affirmatively asserted)
  2. Tell the agent they want an attorney
    • They will not be assigned a Public Defender when they ask for an attorney, our friend, Atty. Pahola Burgos will be sharing a list of immigration attorneys that do pro-bono and low-bono work so that we can share it with our clients
  3. Do not sign anything!

If ICE agents come to a survivor’s door:

  1. Don’t open the door, but keep calm.  You have rights!
  2. Ask why they are there, and ask for an interpreter if necessary
  3. IF they ask to come into your house, ask if they have a warrant signed by a judge
    • If they have it, ask them to show it to you (either through the window or by slipping it under the door)
  4. If they don’t have a warrant signed by a judge, you can refuse entry into your home.  Ask them to leave whatever information they may have by your door
  5. IF they come in by force
    • Do not resist
    • Tell everyone that is present in the home to remain silent
    • If they arrest you
      • Assert your right to remain silent
      • Ask for an attorney
      • Do NOT sign anything!
  1. Please note that an administrative ICE form I-200 or I-205 is NOT a warrant signed by a judge

Liberation, Not Deportation Regional Fund  El Centro Hispano and The Hispanic Liaison have joined forces to create a “Liberation Not Deportation Regional Fund” to help pay for the legal representation fees for families impacted by these raids in Orange, Durham, Chatham, Lee, Randolph and Wake counties. All donations will be used to help our families stand a chance to reunite with their loved ones.

Donations for Durham Families of Detained Individuals All of the money collected by Mi Maletin through this form will be used to purchase supplies for families who are missing breadwinners on account of their family members being detained. Mi Maletin has done this at the request of Durham community leaders. Any questions should be directed to Polanco Law at info@polancolaw.com, as the Polanco Law firm along with the Gardner Law firm is leading the response effort to assist the families affected.

Show Up
Triad Rapid Response Team Student Action with Farmworkers is organizing a rapid response network of volunteers who can respond on scene at reported  or suspected ICE raids to observe, record, and distribute information about detainees rights. If you have 2+ hours of availability and personal transportation, sign up to learn more here.

Intervene as an Ally
Witnessing a raid or detention is scary. Here is a recommended plan form local Latinx organization RadarSafe:

If you see a raid happening, call your local hotline RadarSafe at 1-800-559-8714. (Nat’l hotline: 1-844-363-1423.) Record the badge numbers of agents, type of car, location and exactly what happened. It’s important to get the most accurate information possible. Take photos if possible.

If you are in the process of witnessing a detention, START RECORDING IT IMMEDIATELY. If you can, ask the detainees their families’ names and contact info so that they can be notified, and ask where the detainees are being taken. You have a right to be present, observing, bearing witness, praying, photographing and videotaping (though your right to videotape a law enforcement action may vary by state). If ICE warns you and asks you to step back while videoing/photographing, it is best to follow directions, as they may confiscate your camera.

Petition the Governor If you are part of an organization, considering signing on this petition condemning the ICE raids and calling on Governor Cooper to do the same.

Call your Elected Officials: Consider calling on your elected officials to pressure ICE to leave our communities and refocus their efforts on international crime syndicates and trafficking circles instead of our friends and neighbors, and schools. For Orange County, your US Senator and Representatives are:

David Price (919)967-7924
Richard Burr (202)224-3154
Thom Tillis (202)224-6342

Get Connected
The following organizations work day in and day out to advocate for the Latinx community across NC. Connect with these organizations to stay informed and find ways to provide ongoing support.

El Vinculo Hispano (follow them on Facebook)
El Centro Hispano  (Follow them on Facebook )
El Pueblo, Inc.  (Follow them on Facebook )
Siembra NC

Surviving Sexual Violence in the Media

OCRCC Articles

In times like these, it can be extremely difficult to tune out the onslaught of conversations about sexual violence. People are posting about it online and talking about it in person nonstop. For survivors of sexual violence, hearing people talk about it all the time can be exhausting and, in some cases, triggering. There’s no guaranteed way to avoid all the buzz and difficult feelings about sexual violence, but I do have a few tips on how to manage.

1) Develop a strategy for media consumption. 

When sexual violence is discussed constantly in the news, on social media, and in conversations with friends and family, it can be incredibly easy to feel triggered. An easy piece of advice would be to stay off the internet, but not only is that impossible for some people, but it’s also not going to block everything out. So when I know people are going to be talking about it, or when I want to stay informed without feeling unsafe, I find it helpful to develop a strategy for my consumption of media. For example: when I’m looking through news articles and Tweets about sexual violence, I skip past anything that seems inflammatory or argumentative, and instead focus on either objective-style news reporting or empathetic comments from trusted sources. I also find it’s a good idea to figure out ahead of time how to deal with alarming or triggering content. I start by writing down a list of things that help me to cope and carry it with me, like breathing exercises, funny memes or distractions, and friends I can call. I also write down reminders for myself, like “I am safe” and “I am strong enough to survive these feelings.” It’s nearly impossible to walk through life without being reminded of the violence that surrounds us, but self-care can combat these reminders, which brings me to the next tip…

2) Make self-care personal.

Self-care is the act of a person doing what they need to do to cope and process their feelings. I love the idea of self-care and the fact that it has entered the mainstream spotlight. But, sometimes I don’t relate to the typical self-care suggestions. I personally don’t like baths, I’m not a big tea drinker, and I often get distracted while listening to music. I know that these activities are often helpful for people who are feeling overwhelmed, but I frequently have to remind myself that these are not the only options for self-care. It can look however you want it to look. For me, I often re-watch Grey’s Anatomy for the thousandth time when I’m going through a particularly difficult period.

In terms of processing my feelings, sometimes it helps to write things down (like in our creative writing and zine-making workshop), but sometimes I would rather call a friend and talk about it, or make some abstract art to put images to how I’m feeling. All of those are perfectly normal modes of expression. Therapy can also be an incredibly useful tool in exploring any feelings that are coming up. If you don’t currently have access to a therapist, you can see one of our counselors or we can recommend one in the area.

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter how I do self-care or how people on Instagram do it — what matters is what works for you. Think about what makes you happy and calm, write down a list, and keep it for when times are hard. And if something isn’t making you feel better, ditch it! Try something else. As long as you’re being safe, there’s no wrong way to take care of yourself.

3) Don’t feel like you have to join the conversation.

For the last couple years, as #MeToo has taken over social media and the news cycle, it has become almost expected that survivors will share their story in order to bring attention to this tremendously important issue. However, it’s not your personal responsibility to raise awareness or educate at your own expense. Not everyone is ready to talk about their experiences at the same time. Some people are never ready to talk about it, and that’s okay. Not to mention, there’s a huge difference between sharing a story with trusted friends and loved ones, and sharing a story with the entire world. Some brave survivors are stepping up at a time when this movement is gaining a lot of momentum, and that is an incredibly beautiful thing. But no one is obligated to do that. Everyone has their own journey, and no one should feel pressured into doing something that would make them uncomfortable or unsafe. Choosing not to share does not make you any less of a strong survivor.

It’s your decision how to share your story. No matter how you react to the media and the public discussion of sexual violence, you are strong and your experience is valid. These tips may not give you everything you need to get through discussions of sexual violence in the media, but supportive friends and family, a therapist, and resources here at the OCRCC can also help. You can always call our hotline at 866-WE LISTEN (935-4783) or 919-967-7273. Please remember to reach out if you’re having trouble, and make space for yourself to experience your feelings as they come. This world of violence is difficult to navigate for us all, and it takes immense strength, but you’re not alone in this journey.

Olivia Neal is our 2018 Digital Media Intern at OCRCC, and a senior at UNC studying English and Women’s and Gender Studies. She loves poetry, soft indie music, and her cat, Baby Spice.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 14 15   Next »
  • 24-Hour Help Line:

    • 866-WE-LISTEN (866-935-4783)
    • 919-967-7273 (Local)
    • 919-338-0746 (TTY)
    • 919-504-5211 (Text)