Reflections from WHW’s President & CEO
As I approach my first anniversary with Women Helping Women (WHW), I must take a few moments to reflect on this past year and to share my thoughts on the future direction to meet our community’s needs.
Here are the facts – in recent years, WHW experienced:
- 20+% growth rate in serving survivors in the past year (2014-2015)
- 60+% growth rate in serving survivors in the past 3 years (2012-2015)
- 180+% growth rate in providing hospital accompaniment to sexual assault survivors
What has caused these large increases in services for gender-based violence? It’s impossible to know definitely – but we feel that we are approaching a tipping point with survivors and the community feeling more empowered to seek help and to support those who need help. My continuous concern is that in our region:
- Rape rates in Hamilton County are higher than that of both the state and national averages.
- Butler County ranks 5th out of 88 counties in Ohio for sexual violence incidences.
WHW is the only rape crisis center serving Hamilton County and Butler County. Our services are critical and we must continue to empower and serve survivors. WHW also is a leader in providing critical services for survivors of dating violence, domestic violence and stalking through court accompaniment, law enforcement collaboration, crisis intervention, therapy, support groups, and hotline services.
Intervention is critical and prevention is powerful.
WHW has grown its Prevent & Empower Program this past year. We served 20 schools and educated over 3,400 youth on dating violence and sexual violence prevention. We also trained over 2,300 community leaders, champions, healthcare workers, campus communities, and law enforcement on best practices to refer and respond to gender-based violence. This is a 100% increase over the previous year and we are continuing to grow.
You will hear me say time and time again that gender-based violence is a public health epidemic, and as such, it can be prevented through a public health solution. Gender-based violence is far too common and consequential in our community – but it is changeable. We do not have to accept that 1 in 4 girls experience sexual violence before the age of 18. We do not have to accept that 1 in 3 women are abused in their lifetime. We do not have to accept that 1 out 3 teens experience dating violence. We care too much about our community to accept this, and that is why WHW is working so hard to shift the dialogue in the region to a public health approach.
Looking Forward – Community Change Makers
Despite the increase in service demand, WHW’s dedicated staff members and volunteers have been successful in leveraging our unique community partnerships to be present when and where survivors need us the most – at 16 hospitals, in all 5 districts of the Cincinnati Police Department, at the prosecutor’s office, on major college campuses, in courtrooms, at Lighthouse Youth Services (shelters), at Legal Aid, and in more than 20 middle and high schools across both counties.
And last summer WHW joined forces with the City of Cincinnati through Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld’s office to co-launch and co-chair the City of Cincinnati Task Force to Reduce Gender Based Violence on Campuses. This Task Force is powerful and has launched us into creating change on college campuses. We want every student to be safe on campus, and WHW has allocated resources to respond with intervention and prevention at University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, Miami University, Mount St. Joseph University and Christ College of Nursing.
WHW Needs More Voices: Empowering Men to Speak Out Against Gender-based Violence
Gender-based violence negatively impacts our children and families’ safety, health, wellbeing academic outcomes and our region’s economy. We need everyone’s voice and influence – from political offices to policy rooms, from funding institutions to corporate board rooms, and on athletic fields, in our schools, and in our homes. It is not a women’s issue. It is a human rights issue.
That is why WHW has a Men’s Engagement Campaign. We work with men to advocate for the elimination of gender-based violence. WHW has recently launched several initiatives to encourage men to speak up and be champions for our mission, including the WHW “Bowtie for Bravery” and “Conversations With Men and Boys” Placemats, as well as “Coaching Boys into Men” playbooks with athletic departments and athletes.
Join WHW Movement as an Innovative Change Maker
Thank you for supporting WHW, and please invite your colleagues, friends and neighbors to join our movement to build vibrant and healthy communities. 2015 was an amazing time of transformation for WHW. 2016 is already breaking records of service delivery, new collaborations and bold innovation. Change is happening and we welcome you to be a part of a new community culture.
Thank you for all that you do.
Kristin Smith Shrimplin