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“A Day in the Life of..A Rape Crisis Advocate”

Week 2: Vicki

February 15, 2010, 9:00 am — admin (Uncategorized)

Name: Vicki

Organization: The Awareness Center, Inc. (international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault)

Q: How long have you been a Rape Crisis Advocate?

26 years

Q: How did you become a Rape Crisis Advocate? Is it your full-time job? If not, what is your full-time job?

I started volunteering time at VOICES in Action back in 1985, a few month after the international organization got started.  It was one of the first organizations on childhood sexual abuse.  Besides being an incest survivor I am also the survivor of a sexual assault at the age of 23 and another one at the age of 50.  After being sexually assaulted at age 23, and going through counseling, my advocate asked if I would like to share my story with high school students in Chicago.  I started doing it and realized that I wasn’t alone and that by speaking out that I was helping others who might not have gotten help.

I went back to school and got my degrees and am a licensed clinical professional counselor.

Q: Why did you become a Rape Crisis Advocate?

I wanted to help others who are victims of sex crimes heal. I learned how important it was to have people in my life who understood what I was going through and wanted to be there for others.

Q: Describe a “typical” day as a Rape Crisis Advocate. What is a day like if you are not called? What is the process once you do receive a call? What is it like for you while on-call?

I am the founder and CEO of The Awareness Center, which is the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Assault.  I deal with survivors on a daily basis from all over the world.  We do our best to operate as the make a wish foundation for Jewish survivors of sex crimes.  When someone calls we try to help them obtain what ever it is they are looking for.

Q: What kinds of sexual assault victim services does [Organization] provide?

We offer a clearinghouse of information and resources on our web page.  It’s sort of like “everything you ever wanted to know about sexual violence and sex offenders but were afraid to ask”.  We also provide resources to survivors who are Jewish from within every movement in Judaism.  Resources include counseling, legal, law enforcement, medical, holistic, etc.  We also have a Jewish Sex Offender Registry which is an online database of cases around the globe.  Due to funding shortages our database is not up to date.

Q: What areas of NYC are serviced by your Rape Crisis Program?

We work within in all Jewish communities through out New York, by providing information and resources. We area also in the process of developing a self-help group in Brooklyn.  We are currently looking for a location to hold weekly meetings.

Q: How can people learn more about [Organization]?

By visiting our web page at www.theawarenesscenter.org

or by calling 443-857-5560.  We are a volunteer based organization with little funding so at times it can take us up to a month to return phone calls.  They can also send e-mails to info@theawarenesscenter.org

Q: In your opinion, what is currently the most pressing issue facing Rape Crisis Advocates in NYC?

Because The Awareness Center works within The Jewish Community, we are faced with so many obsticals especially in the orthodox world.  Things are changing since we got started 10 years ago, yet we still deal with the fact that the majority of cases are not reported to law enforcement, instead they are reported to local orthodox rabbis who tell victims not to report crimes to the police.  We are slowly seeing more cases coming out in the news media, yet in the more insulated communities survivors are shunned and shamed if they are assaulted and or try to make police reports.

Q: What advice do you have for people interested in volunteering?

We often have to warn survivors especially from the orthodox world that they will get harassed for helping victims and that we do our best to train them to be prepared.  We are trying to organize a 40 hour Rape Victim Advocacy Training Program which will include Halacha (Jewish Law).  We have not been sucecssful in funding the program, yet would love to team up with a program in NYC to do so, in hopes of better addressing issues in the ultra orthodox world.  If this is something you would be interested in doing please call me

Q:  Where do you see the City’s sexual assault services in 5 years? 10 years?

My hope is that there will be trained advocates from the orthodox world working in local rape crisis centers to help build a bridge between their communities and the rest of society when dealing with sex crimes.  Unfortunately, we have pseudo-advocates out there that don’t have the education or training who are working with those who are part of the problem.  I would like to see this practice end.

Q: What does a world without sexual violence look like to you?

Utopia.  :-)

Q: What current event has your attention the most right now?

There are some cases that will be breaking soon, once the survivors are ready to go forward.  We also doing everything in our power to start our first self-help/networking group in NYC for Jewish survivors of sexual violence.  One goal is to have several meetings each week that are especially geared for those from the more insulated communities.

Q: What is the most significant change in the City’s services since you have been working as a Rape Crisis Advocate?

When I first got started, there were very few rape crisis centers across the country. If I remember correctly NYC had the first one, that opened back in 1975.  I got started right after the laws changed in which there was a legal definition for sexual abuse and assault.  It’s amazing how much better things are today then they were 26 years ago.  Between things like a national sex offender registry, Megan’s law, a legal definition for stalking and sexual harassment and also now survivors can obtain orders of protection if they are being talked by their offender, etc .  There still is a great deal of work to do, yet we’ve come a long way since 1985.

32 Comments »

  1. Thank you Vicki for everything you do to help survivors.

    Comment by DT — February 15, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

  2. The Awareness Center let me know that I am not the only one who suffered as a child at the hands of an abusive teacher in school. And there are so many other “survivors,” not only a few.
    I don’t have to hide my anger, and I can help myself by supporting the Center in its work at informing a sleeping public about the destructive human forces in our schools and communities and places of worship.

    Comment by Ava Miedzinski — February 15, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

  3. Having been a victim yourself I would think this makes you better able to do what you do – yet it’s still a source of amazement to me that you haven’t distanced yourself from it. You’ve done SO MUCH with so little support. You are an inspiration who truly deserves some acknowledgement and praise.

    Comment by Moreyn Kamenir — February 15, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

  4. Great interview. Vicki is the pioneer, who has brought much light, justice and healing to our situation.

    Comment by Elliot Pasik — February 15, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

  5. A very brave very important individual

    Comment by JM — February 15, 2010 @ 9:02 pm

  6. Vicki gets my vote. I wish there were more like her getting the Jewish community of the catastrophe of child molestation. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Abraham — February 15, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

  7. Thanks for all the work you do for Jewish survivors. We are an under-recognized and therefore underserved group.

    Comment by Harriet Clare — February 16, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  8. Thanks for sharing Vicki!

    Comment by Saskia — February 16, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

  9. Vicki has done original work for Jewish survivors. Three cheers for her.

    Comment by MHPOLIn — February 16, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  10. Thank you Vicki for all of your excellent work in helping child abuse and rape survivors.

    Comment by Thank you Vicki — February 16, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

  11. Thank you Vicki!

    Comment by Meredith — February 16, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

  12. Vicki has not only been an inspiration to many, she’s also saved so many young lives. The world is a better place because of her dedication to those who have been sexually abused.

    Comment by Shlomo — February 16, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

  13. Vicki Polin has labored long and heroically, in the face of tremendous obstacles. She deserves every possible thanks!

    Comment by Robin — February 16, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

  14. Its nice to know there are people like Vicki in this world!Thank you for all that you do.

    Comment by M.Breitberg — February 16, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

  15. I have a lot of respect for Vicki and people like her. It’s not easy at all to do what she does, dealing with what she does. I believe she must be a very strong woman to be such an effective advocate for so many. THANK YOU!

    Comment by Brighid Rose — February 16, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

  16. My vote is for Vicki! She deserves some Avon and a little pampering. She gives her all every day for others and is breaking down doors and shedding light in places no one dares to tread. Thank you Vicki!

    Comment by D.DeLyla — February 16, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

  17. Vicki has really made a difference. We need more people like Vicki.

    Comment by michael schudrich — February 16, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

  18. Vicki Polin is a courageous hero who has miraculously turned her own suffering into an organization to help many others heal from their suffering.

    Comment by MG — February 16, 2010 @ 10:05 pm

  19. Great work Vicki. You have helped many rape survivors.

    Comment by Chaim — February 16, 2010 @ 10:06 pm

  20. You go girl! Keep up the good work. It take a wonderful person to do what you are doing and the world needs more of you! May The Lord Bless you and Guide you!

    Comment by Alita Felts — February 16, 2010 @ 11:26 pm

  21. Thank you, Vicki for all the you are doing.

    Michael

    Comment by michael schudrich — February 17, 2010 @ 7:03 am

  22. The fact that the awareness center may be doing some good work cannot hide the other fact that Vicky is a deeply disturbed individual who has disqualifed herself from being taken serious by her outrageous, calumnious and otally unfounded comments on the Oprah show. Her refusal to retract these and to apologize for them renders her morally challenged and totally untrustworthy.

    Comment by Annette Bloch — February 17, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

  23. May Hashem protect and restore all of those who have been victimized and their families in such a horrible way to good health.

    May Hashem bring all the strength and courage to Vicki Polin to continue this battle against such evil that has been unleashed amongst our people and the other nations of this world.

    May Hashem be able to bring insight and guidance to those who wish Vicki Polin ill and all of the others who have been advocating for survivors. The hope is that they will be able to do teshuvah, and be enlightened and join forces against the evil that began this horrendous war.

    May Hashem, send all of our communities a speedy and complete recovery from the pain inflicted to our mind, bodies and soul.

    Amen.

    Comment by Lev Ariel — February 17, 2010 @ 10:24 pm

  24. Thank you Vicki for being there for me.

    Comment by Asher Cohen — February 18, 2010 @ 12:40 am

  25. Thank you, Vicki, for your commitment to promote healing and ending abuse. It is difficult to be a pioneer, so I appreciate your courage and determination to create systems of support that have not existed before.

    Comment by Jaime Romo — February 18, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  26. I feel so bad that you had to go through all that. I’m sure what you are doing will help and benefit a lot of survivors….great job!

    Comment by KS — February 18, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

  27. Vicki you are an amazing woman to take everything that happened to you and to turn it all around and help others. I don’t know if I would have the strength to do what you have done. Thank you for making the choices you did instead of withering away like so many others have done. You are an inspiration to me.

    Comment by S. Porter — February 18, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

  28. You give a new meaning to
    “It takes one to know one”
    Be proud, be very proud..
    May we continue to see the light and
    Spread if you save even just one life, you
    Save the world!
    I’m blessed to do G-d’s work and have that
    In common w/other special neshamas..
    G-d bless all you do and are to this world…

    Comment by Jennifer Molinari — February 18, 2010 @ 11:24 pm

  29. Vicki is an incredible one person dynamo who has taken on a cause that others shun and made it her own. She has held out her hand for support to those who need it. She has provided information to those who choose to stay in a state of denial. It’s hard to be a whistle blower in a world that doesn’t want to hear whistles.

    Comment by Marcia Spiegel — February 19, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

  30. Vicki is a very special person, with a huge heart and tons of patience. I don’t know how to thank her enough for listening to me rant on the phone over the last several years. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be who I am today. She helped me find a therapist, support group and all sorts of other things. She taught me that I had the right not to accept or do things I didn’t feel comfortable doing. The world is a better place because of Vicki Polin. At least it is for me.

    Comment by Shoshana Cohen — February 19, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

  31. How dare Annette Bloch even respond in this forum? Grow a pair and speak to her directly. What do you all want to be that this fictitious “Annette’ is actually one of her peverted relatives that abused her? Who else could possibly refute the truthes she shared through tears?

    This is not the place to attack her. Vicki deserves all the support and love we can give to her. That is what she has devoted her life to…supporting and loving the abused.

    Comment by D.DeLyla — February 19, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

  32. Thank you Vicki for the inspiration you give as well as all the support. Many stronger people would have crumpled under the weight of what you were forced to endure as a child. Not only did you fight back…you have spent your life fighting back for others. You are a shining example for the rest of us.

    Comment by Moreyn Kamenir — February 19, 2010 @ 6:09 pm

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