Rape Crisis Center hosts 10th annual event April 24 at Lock 3
— As residents lace up for the Walk A Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser this week to help put an end to sexual violence, the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties is making tremendous strides to create awareness around sexual violence in our community. The agency opened a satellite office last year on the University of Akron campus, in order to reach students with education and support services. And over the past year, the Rape Crisis Center was was able to educate more than 8,000 young people from middle school through college.
After President Obama formed an advisory council to address sexual violence on campuses across the country, the University of Akron reached out to the Rape Crisis Center to help leverage this heightened awareness.
“Proactively, the University of Akron contacted the Rape Crisis Center to be a part of a collaborative group, a sexual assault resource team that would really look at how the university is educating its students and faculty about sexual assault issues,” says Dana Zedak, executive director of the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties, who adds, “One of the messages from President Obama and Vice President Biden is: It’s on us. It’s our responsibility as community members to end sexual violence and we’re taking that seriously.”
University of Akron students have also formed a local chapter to the Men of Strength Club, which mobilizes young men to speak out against sexual violence and show solidarity with the many women who experience sexual violence.
“It’s a great resource to have an office located on a university campus that provides that direct service piece that’s offered as a confidential resource for students,” says Vanessa Sampsel, campus outreach coordinator for the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties. “A lot of students have already come in and wanted to do student internships and volunteer opportunities.”
Ten years of walking in her shoes
Walk A Mile in Her Shoes is an international movement, 12 years old, and the local Rape Crisis Center has hosted an Akron event for 10 of those years. At the Walk, participants (primarily men) literally walk a mile in women’s shoes to build empathy and support for the fact that women are more prone to be victims of sexual violence.
“It’s really an awareness event about gender violence,” says Zedak, who adds that more than 2,000 people came to the agency for services last year.
“The FBI estimates that only one in 10 women will report rape. Many of the women who reach out to us for assistance are women who don’t report to police or another authority. They’re reaching out to get that emotional support.”
Sampsel says a number of students have stepped up to participate in the Walk A Mile event, which originated at the University of Akron campus. At last count, she says about 15 teams from campus have registered to participate.
The agency stresses that it also can be a valuable resource for male victims, many of whom don’t report these crimes either. “We do have men who come to us for service; it’s a pretty small percentage compared to the amount of women we’re serving, it’s less than 3 percent,” says Zedak.
The agency also has partnered with Time Warner Cable Midwest, which is the presenting sponsor for this year’s event. This year, a portion of the proceeds will go to the nonprofit’s sister agency, the Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes takes place April 24, 5 p.m. at Lock 3, on South Main Street. To register or for more info, visit www.rccmsc.org.