Opinion: Loss of UC Rape Survivor Program Troubling

Kristin Smith Shrimplin is the executive director for Women Helping Women, a community-based agency whose mission is to empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking by providing advocacy, support and options for safety.

One merely has to glance at the front page of a newspaper or catch the top of a news broadcast to understand the critical need for all educational institutions to have effective, comprehensive, campus-based responses to gender-based violence.

My colleagues and I at Women Helping Women are deeply concerned that the University of Cincinnati currently does not have a functional campus-based peer survivor advocacy program in place. RECLAIM, the program that has served UC sexual assault survivors for more than a decade and has received national acclaim from the White House for its efficacy, is unable to provide services due to the fact that the program’s required and extensive 40-hour training was halted, leaving UC students without a clear path to sexual assault survivor services.

WHW supports RECLAIM as an important part of the University of Cincinnati’s options for survivor advocacy. We also support the UC administrators who have pledged to promptly meet with peer advocates to reschedule training and ensure RECLAIM student advocates are fully prepared to effectively support student survivors of sexual assault.

It is important that as students begin their academic year ‒ statistically the time of year that college students are at highest risk for sexual assault ‒ a comprehensive service offering is readily available to assist and support survivors. In fact, it’s an integral element of students’ rights to safety and to receiving an education.

While WHW serves survivors of sexual assault in Hamilton and Butler counties, we best serve college student survivors by working in close cooperation and collaboration with each of the campus-based peer survivor advocacy programs in our region. College student survivors have unique and critical needs, such as navigating campus-specific options and pursuing a pathway to healing, that can be expertly met by trained, on-campus peer advocates. WHW has collaborated with RECLAIM for more than a decade as RECLAIM has provided essential advocacy services for student survivors.

Unfortunately, gender-based violence is a public health epidemic that disproportionately impacts young women who are of college age. According to a report led by Bonnie Fisher, it’s estimated that:

•20-25 percent of women in higher educational institutions experience sexual assault, including rape, over the course of their college careers.

•For every 1,000 women attending a college or university, there are 35 incidents of rape each academic year.

These statistics are staggering. Sexual assault is far too common, complex and consequential for any one entity to address. It is an epidemic that requires a comprehensive and immediate response.

It is critical that students at UC have a direct and clear path to immediate services for sexual assault survivors. UC reports that it had 23,716 women students enrolled in the 2014-15 academic year. If the statistics above hold true, and assuming level enrollment, there could be more than 4,700 UC student survivors of sexual assaults, of which 830 of those will be rape survivors, in this year alone. There is no time to waste in getting the RECLAIM program fully operational now.

WHW believes in our caring community of Greater Cincinnati and our power to collectively address and end gender-based violence.


Teach kids early about healthy relationships

Kendra Massey is education and outreach supervisor at Women Helping Women.

One case of dating violence is too many.

Yet research indicates that one in three adolescents in the U.S. experiences abuse from a dating partner. It’s vital to empower our young people to recognize healthy and unhealthy relationships and understand ways we can support the youth in our lives.

Women Helping Women’s dating violence prevention program arms young people with the knowledge and tools needed to recognize red flags or warning signs in relationships – in their own and in the relationships of friends. We teach youth what they can do to prevent dating violence in their communities as well as resources available when violence does occur.

One message we give youth is the importance of modeling healthy relationships by respecting their partner’s feelings and wishes in a relationship, paying attention to their body language, and stopping any physical advances if their partner says no or is unsure.

We teach youth that they can influence the way that their friends treat their dating partners as a method to prevent abuse. This can be done by telling a friend very clearly that abusive behavior is unacceptable and not making light of inappropriate behavior.

Sometimes youth don’t feel comfortable or safe handling a situation alone, so we encourage them to involve others when needed. They can alert staff at their school, call the police if they witness violence, or talk to a parent, teacher or other adult for advice.

Most importantly, we teach the importance of being able to talk about dating violence – whether it’s to parents, friends or someone they trust. It’s a difficult topic to discuss, so it’s vital that we all, as community members, take time to listen when youth come to us for support. We also have a responsibility to initiate conversations about dating with the teens in our lives.

It’s necessary that we recognize some red flags associated with an unhealthy relationship, including controlling behavior, threats of suicide or self-harm from a dating partner, extreme jealousy, put-downs and isolation from loved ones.

Common barriers to teens getting help include fear that others won’t understand, not knowing where to get help and fear of being judged. Therefore, it’s important when offering support that we listen without judgment, believe what is said, and offer information on resources such as Women Helping Women’s anonymous hotline.

It’s up to each of us to arm our young people with the knowledge they need to navigate relationships while they’re young. It’s up to us to get involved as a community to prevent dating violence and abusive behavior in all its forms.

If you know would like more support on how to talk with the youth in your life about healthy relationships or would like more information about Women Helping Women’s education and prevention programs, please give us a call at (513) 381-5610.


27th Annual She Screams Without Sound Candlelight Vigil Local 12 Story

Vigil to Recognize Domestic Violence Victims

Updated: Tuesday, October 7 2014, 08:21 AM EDT CINCINNATI, Ohio (Adam Clements) — Victims of domestic violence will be recognized tonight with a special candlelight vigil at the Hamilton County courthouse.. One of the biggest points the folks participating in tonight’s vigil are hoping to get across is that domestic violence is everywhere. Just because someone doesn’t come right out and say it, doesn’t mean they may not be a victim of some sort of physical or verbal abuse. In Hamilton County in the past year, four women have lost their lives as a result of domestic violence related issues. For organizers of Tuesday’s event, that is four too many. They are expecting upwards of 100 people at tonight’s vigil. The YWCA is partnering once again with women helping women. They serve around 12,000 people in Hamilton County. This is the 27th annual domestic violence awareness vigil. In the scene is expected to be a powerful one. It’s about remembering the lives that of been lost, and working to help other victims who can still be saved. Executive Director of Women Helping Women, Kendall Fisher said, “I think it’s critical that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. This is a really really important issue that impacts.. We serve twelve thousand people right here in Hamilton county. So it affects too many people to let it get swept under the carpet or overshadowed by something else.” In addition to candles being lit, they also plan to have several guest speakers, including Hamilton County coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, as well as family members of victims who have lost their lives to domestic violence. Follow Adam Clements on Twitter @aclementswkrc and LIKE him on Facebook.

Read More at: http://www.local12.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/vigil-recognize-domestic-violence-victims-18768.shtml


Opinion: What survivors of Domestic Violence Really Need

The Cincinnati Enquirer published an editorial from Women Helping Women’s Executive Director, Kendall Fisher. Read below…

Opinion: What victims of domestic violence really


Ray Rice and wife


Kendall Fisher 12:05 a.m. EDT October 5, 2014


(Photo: File photo )

Kendall Fisher is executive director of Women Helping Women.

Recently, we’ve seen the national and local headlines about high-profile domestic violence cases, and we’ve heard the public asking, “Why did she stay?”

As we begin a month of events to mark October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I write this letter to the women and men in abusive relationships, and also to those attempting to support survivors or understand why a survivor stays.

To the survivors: You and I both know why survivors stay. For you, and hundreds of other people in similar situations across the Tri-state, the answer isn’t an easy one. You and I know that sometimes a person’s decision to leave saved her or his life. And we also know that sometimes, the decision to stay is what’s kept her or him alive. You and I know that everyone is quick to denounce domestic violence, but many are also quick to judge the woman or man who stays.

What you may not know is no matter what decision you make, the dedicated staff and volunteers at Women Helping Women are here to help you and other women, men, and families suffering from domestic violence. We know that there is no one right answer. We know that your decision to stay or leave is yours alone.

Women Helping Women advocates assist survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in Hamilton County. But if you’re in Butler, Warren, Clermont, Kenton, Boone, or Campbell County, our staff can connect you to the right agency in your area. These groups will partner with you to do all they can to keep you safe, and help you make the right decision for you.

To those struggling to help someone suffering from abuse, or to those struggling to understand why a domestic violence survivor stays: What these women, men and children need are friends, family and a community that does not judge them, question why they stay or attempt to persuade them to leave.

Survivors need for you to believe them – to believe IN them. They need you to let them know that the abuse they suffer is not their fault and they don’t deserve it. They need you to provide resources to help them develop a safety plan, whether they stay in their relationship or leave.

Survivors need for you to educate yourself and others about domestic violence. Women Helping Women’s Community Outreach educators are happy to meet with your school, work, church or other group to provide information on recognizing the signs of domestic violence, responding appropriately to survivors and taking a stand in your community.

Volunteer for Women Helping Women, the YWCA, Women’s Crisis Center or another domestic violence agency in your community. Agencies such as these need compassionate, dedicated volunteers to assist survivors, promote understanding and make a positive difference in their communities.

Attend awareness events this month throughout the Tri-state. The Candlelight Vigil on October 7 remembers the domestic violence homicide victims in our community, and Bark Out Against Battering Pet Fest on October 25 increases awareness and understanding of the links between pet abuse and domestic violence.

And most importantly, domestic violence survivors need you to respect their choices. Understand that staying is sometimes the safest choice, and each and every survivor of domestic violence has a unique situation that should not be judged at first glance. Stand by them and respect them enough to help them get in touch with the right resources.

If you know someone suffering from physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological abuse – or if that’s you – please call us day or night at (513) 381-5610. Women Helping Women is here to help you, support you, and give you the resources you need.


Domestic Violence Story on WVXU

On September 30, 2014 WVXU did a story about domestic violence. Take a moment to read the online story WVXU Domestic Violence Story and listen to the broadcast of Cincinnati Edition.


Second Annual Purple Light Walk on Channel 5 News

The second annual Purple Light Walk will be held Friday, August 15. The event is a collaboration between Women Helping Women, the Cincinnati Police Department and the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati. To see the interview with Ellen Newman, the Purple Light Walk co-chair, and Officer Princess Davis, committee member and emcee, click here Second Annual Purple Light Walk on Channel 5 News. For more information and how to register visit Purple Light Walk Registration. You can also visit the Purple Light Walk Facebook Page.


Soapbox Cincinnati Story featuring Sunday Salons

Brittany York with Soapbox Cincinnati conducted an interview about the 2014 Sunday Salon season with Kendall Fisher, Women Helping Women’s executive director. Read the entire story here: Soapbox Cincinnati Featuring Sunday Salons.


Purple Light Walk to Mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Purple Light Walk to Mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Women Helping Women today announced that on Friday, October 11 at 5:30 pm Cincinnati will play host to the first ever Purple Light Domestic Violence Awareness Month Walk.  The event, which is designed to raise awareness to the issue of domestic violence, is a collaboration of Women Helping Women, the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Police Department.  October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

During the Walk, which will start and end at The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, participants will carry purple glow sticks – purple is the color of domestic violence awareness.

“Women Helping Women is pleased to team up with the YWCA and the Cincinnati Police Department to sponsor the Purple Light Walk, which will serve as a striking visual reminder that domestic violence is a problem facing both women and men regardless of race ethnicity or social status,” said Kendall Fisher, executive director of Women Helping Women.

Those interested in participating may register online at http://purplelightwalk.eventbrite.com/ or in person on the day of the event.  Registration is free for all participants and will begin with a resource fair at 5:30 pm, program at 6:30 pm and walk starting at 7 pm.