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Member Profile: Rape & Abuse Crisis Center

August 1st, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead (RACC) offers crisis intervention, advocacy, counseling and education to all persons affected by sexual and domestic violence and to provide prevention programs to create a society free of personal abuse. Last year, the agency served 3001 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including 501 children, throughout west central Minnesota and southeastern North Dakota. RACC is dedicated to offering hope, education and support to those affected by violence and committed to the vision of safe and healthy communities for all.

RACC team

RACC has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the lives of victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence since its inception in 1977 when two local agencies—WomenAbuse, serving battered women, and the Rape Crisis Center, serving victims of sexual violence—merged to provide comprehensive, accessible services for these crimes. RACC is proudly one of the earliest violence intervention centers to be established in Minnesota and North Dakota, and throughout the agency’s 39-year history has served over 83,000 victims, including 16,000 children.

The programs of the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center utilize an integrated approach involving crisis intervention, advocacy, legal, medical and social systems assistance, trauma-informed, evidence-based individual and group counseling, and community education to provide comprehensive services to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child sexual abuse and their families in order to move the child or adult from victim to survivor. It is RACC’s goal for victims to feel safe, well-informed and emotionally supported as they move through the healing process.

RACC play therapy room

RACC’s play therapy room

“If you focus on the trauma that brings people in here, particularly for child victims, it can be pretty overwhelming,” said Dr. Christopher Johnson, executive director. “But when you have the opportunity to watch traumatized kids be-bop down to the Play Therapy room talking their counselor’s ear off, it’s rewarding to know that this kid is strong and resilient and with support and intervention is able to make sense of what happened and move on with life.”

In addition to serving victims, RACC is committed to its vision of making the community one where domestic and sexual violence are less likely to happen through its prevention and education programs. For many years, RACC, like many social change agents, invested the majority of its prevention efforts into educating youth. While these efforts were critical in identifying potential victims and increasing awareness of services available and remain so, educating youth is not enough to prevent violence and abuse from happening in the first place. RACC has worked strategically to develop, implement and facilitate primary prevention programming based on changing social norms through community engagement, policy work and macro principles similar to the successful models of the anti-smoking movement. RACC’s primary prevention efforts have been recognized by the Center for Disease Control as promising. Most recently, the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) asked RACC staff to provide model primary prevention programming and training throughout the state of Minnesota.

As for receiving the 2016 Chamber Choice Non-Profit of the Year award, “More than anything we’re grateful,” Johnson stated. “Just truly grateful to the community and The Chamber for honoring survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse by choosing the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center for this prestigious award. It tells our staff, this work you’re doing is important and needed and we as a community are here for you. More importantly, it sends a resounding message to victims and their families- you matter, your safety and well-being matters, what you’re going through isn’t OK and we as a community have your back.”

Save the date for RACC’s Harvest Moon Fling event on October 28 at the Courtyard by Marriott with wine tasting, live and silent auctions, food and entertainment.

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