The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center was one of the first programs in the Midwest to serve battered women and sexual assault victims. In November of 1975, the National Organization for Women (NOW) sponsored as speak-out on rape that brought together medical, legal and law enforcement professionals to discuss this problem. This group generated a coalition of persons: police, counselors, NOW Rape Task Force, rape victims, nurses, hospital social workers and other interested people who thought it was necessary to develop a rape crisis center in Fargo. In 1977, this was accomplished.
Also in 1977, a coalition of concerned people got together to establish WomenAbuse, a program to work with battered women. This group, too, had existed as a task force in 1976.
Primary services provided were crisis intervention and advocacy to adult victims of violence. If a victim needed ongoing counseling, she was referred to other agencies in our community. In that first year, 1977, services were provided to 37 victims of sexual assault and 73 battered women.
The first training program for volunteers occurred in February and March of 1978, with the first volunteers taking on-call in April. In November, 1978, our crisis line was moved to the YWCA, which allowed for 24 hour coverage. Since January 1st, 1993, our crisis line has been answered by FirstLink. The Center conducts a 48 hour comprehensive volunteer training program up to three times a year. In 2004 volunteers donated 20,511.50 hours, the equivalent of almost ten full-time employees.
The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center and WomenAbuse incorporated as the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead in 1979. Services to victims of domestic violence, as well as sexual assault, were now provided under one roof.
Today, the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center has 30 staff members.
A major addition to client services was the development of a children’s treatment program in 1985. Individual and group counseling services are available to children who have been sexually abused or who have witnessed domestic violence. Play therapy is the treatment modality utilized. By providing more comprehensive services to children, the goal is to intervene and break the generational cycle of victimization.
In 1988, the Center hired its first paralegal to serve as Pro Se Coordinator. This position, now called Criminal Justice Intervention Advocate, assists victims of domestic violence as they petition the courts to obtain protection from their abuser through an Order for Protection. The Center also expanded its service delivery by having outreach counselors travel to Hillsboro in Traill county, Hawley and Barnesville in rural Clay county and Wahpeton in Richland county through Three Rivers Crisis Center. In 1996, outreach was added to the three junior high and middle schools in Fargo and to Lisbon in Ransom county through the Abuse Resource Network. Thanks to grants received from the Minnesota Department of Corrections in January, 1994, the Center opened offices in the Clay County Family Service Center in Moorhead and in Breckenridge in Wilkin County. Unfortunately, funding from MN was cut in 2004 which resulted in the closure of our offices in the Clay County Family Service Center. The Clay County Criminal Justice Advocate now is housed in the Clay County Attorney’s Office. The Breckenridge office provides services to sexual assault and child sexual abuse victims. In 1995, the Department of Corrections provided funding to allow the Center to have a counselor in Barnesville one day a week.
In 1998, the Center added services to West Fargo High School and Middle School.
In 1999, services were added at the Rothsay schools in Wilkin county. In addition, Fargo North High was added as an outreach site in late 1999. In 2000, services were added to Moorhead Junior and Senior High Schools, West Fargo Community High School, Woodrow Wilson Community High School & Mayville State University. In 2001 outreach was added to Fargo South High School, Red River Area Learning Center, Dakota Boys Ranch and Norman County Victim Assistance Program. Again, cuts in MN funding resulted in the loss of outreach services to Norman County. NDSU was an outreach site from 2002 to 2004. Services are now provided at a total of 26 sites.
From 1991 to 1999, the Center had a counselor at Moorhead State University to provide services to victims there. Starting in September of 1999, MSU took over those services.
Our primary service area continues to be Cass county of North Dakota and Clay county of Minnesota. Secondary service areas include Traill, Richland and Ransom counties of North Dakota and Wilkin County in Minnesota. However, we do not refuse services to any victims, no matter where they live. The Center also added an 800 number in 1994 to better serve victims; the number is 800-344-7273 and is answered 24 hours a day.
In 1994, the CourtWatch program was formally added to the Center’s services. Modeled after MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), this program has three major objectives: 1) to promote public awareness about the criminal justice system, 2) to protect victims’ rights and 3) to identify where changes need to be made in the system. These goals are accomplished by monitoring cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse from the initial report through prosecution and sentencing.
From the first speaking engagement on January 11th, 1977, to an appearance on Good Morning, America in 1982 (talking about Red Flag Green Flag® People), the public education component has become a very important part of the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center’s services. The first Violence in Dating Relationships presentation was in May, 1983. Through education efforts, the Center creates awareness of the issues. In 2004, 885 presentations were made, reaching 16,635 people.
The first Speakers’ Bureau was organized in October, 1978. From that, the Center has expanded into prevention programs for preschool, elementary, secondary and college students and working with developmentally disabled persons. Training seminars are presented for professionals such as law enforcement, attorneys, judges, clergy and social workers.
The Center has coordinated and hosted several conferences for professionals over the years. The most recent, The Faith Community Response to Sexual Abuse, was held in April 2003.
The Red Flag Green Flag® People Program, a sexual abuse prevention program for early elementary age children, was first piloted locally in Dilworth to a third grade class in March, 1980. During the last 24 years, Red Flag Green Flag® has reached well over a million students. Annie, a book designed to encourage children to explore their feelings about confusing touches, was first introduced as Once I Was A Little Bit Frightened in 1980. It was renamed Annie in 1983. In 1992, a similar book for boys, Andy, was introduced.
The filmstrip series T is for Touching, a sexual abuse prevention program for three to six year old children, was completed in February, 1985. The Woodrow Project: A Sexual Abuse Prevention Curriculum for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, was developed in December, 1986. New Beginnings, a treatment manual for implementing a support group for female adolescent and young adult victims of sexual assault and I Wish the Hitting Would Stop, a workbook for children who witness domestic violence, were developed in 1987.
In 1994, two new prevention products were introduced: Red Flag Green Flag® ABC’s of Personal Safety for preschool children and Red Flag Green Flag® II Sexual Abuse Prevention Program for older elementary age children. In 1996, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources’ The ABC’s of Personal Safety was translated into Spanish and English and Spanish videos were produced to accompany the printed materials. In addition, a facilitator’s guide was developed.
In 1995, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources also began marketing a new line of products, “Peace On Earth Begins At Home” t-shirts, sweatshirts and magnets. Today, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources, the publications division of the Center, is responsible for the promotion and distribution of all these resource materials. In March, 1996, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources’ marketing efforts expanded to include a web site (www.redflaggreenflag.com) with online ordering. Also in 1996, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources began marketing a board game for use with domestic violence victims, “It’s Your Move”. This game was developed by Carol Tonner of Libby, Montana. Red Flag Green Flag® Resources materials are currently used in all fifty states, all twelve Canadian provinces and over sixty other countries.
In addition to the Red Flag Green Flag® Resources’ ABC’s of Personal Safety, I Wish the Hitting Would Stop and Red Flag Green Flag® People are currently translated into Spanish. In 1996, I Wish the Hitting Would Stop was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. An article about this same product was on the front page of WomaNews of the Chicago Tribune on January 5th, 1997. In 1997, Red Flag Green Flag® joined the Family Violence Publishers Consortium and Source ReSource, a Canadian publisher, began distributing Red Flag Green Flag® products. Also in 1997, Red Flag Green Flag® began carrying A Safe Place, a children’s book about life in a domestic violence shelter.
In 1998, Red Flag Green Flag® obtained exclusive worldwide distribution rights to It’s Your Move, and also began offering the P.A.L.S. (Peaceful Alternatives and Life Skills) program materials. This conflict resolution program for elementary school children was developed by the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center in Brainerd, Minnesota.
In 1999, Red Flag Green Flag Resources began to sell the Domestic Violence Awareness Pin. The pins are produced by Designs by Lucinda in Scarborough, Maine with the purpose of raising awareness about the issues of domestic violence. Also, in 1999, embroidered t-shirts and denim shirts were added to the Peace on Earth Begins At HomeÒ product line.
In 2000, Red Flag Green Flag Resources celebrated its 20th anniversary. In recognition of this achievement, the Associated Press featured Red Flag Green FlagÒ Resources in a newspaper article. The article appeared in newspapers in at least 132 cities located in 42 states.
Also, in 2000, Red Flag Green Flag Resources received a Women’s Peacepower Foundation Award in the “Media - Print Manual/Handbook” category for the Red Flag Green FlagÒ People children’s workbook. The Peacepower Media Awards are designed to honor collaborative efforts associated with media projects for their outstanding efforts to promote peace in the lives of abused women and their families.
In 2001, thanks to a grant from the Best Buy Children’s Foundation, RFGF Resources produced the classroom video, “I Wish the Hitting Would Stop” for children and facilitators. Nationally known experts on domestic violence, Mark Wynn and Sarah Buel, appeared in the video. In 2002, an accompanying classroom curriculum (student’s workbook and a facilitator’s guide) was completed. 528 classroom curriculums were sent to domestic violence programs or school districts across the United States in cities that have Best Buy stores. In 2003, the Fargo Public School System adopted “I Wish” to be integrated into the curriculum for all 4th graders.
In addition, in 2002, Power Plays, a video featuring S.A.V.E., the Center’s youth skit team, was produced and once the facilitator's guide is finished it will be marketed for use with teens and young adults. In 2004 the skit team was chosen to be part of a national program, Youth Outreach for Victim Assistance. Members attended a national conference in Texas. They also produced a PSA and won the MN Medical Alliance Award for Violence Prevention.
Our newsletter, Beginnings, was first published in January, 1979 and sent to 200 people. Currently, Beginnings is published three times a year and is sent to over 4,600 people throughout the United States. In 2003, thanks to the support of the Bremer Foundation, the Center launched its first “Business Newsletter”. This newsletter is e-mailed or mailed to businesses bi-monthly. Each issue focuses on some aspect of the Center’s mission and encourages businesses to get involved with our work.
Since 1983, the Center, in conjunction with area churches, has sponsored “Love Without Fear Week”, a domestic violence awareness project.
Each October since 1991, the Center has also sponsored a “Take Back The Night” march. This gathering brings together citizens from all walks of life for a peaceful protest against violence.
The first fundraiser ever conducted at the Center was in November of 1976 and raised $538.00. Since that time the Center continues to host two major fundraisers to include the Kids Are Our Business Breakfast and the Harvest Moon Fling.
In 2000, the Center added a new position, thanks to a three year Bush Foundation grant. The Community Outreach Coordinator has helped the Center increase it’s visibility throughout our service area. In addition, “Peace At Home”, a powerful twelve minute video that describes the mission and services of the Center, was produced in 2000. This video has been used as the centerpiece of our “Partners In Peace” program, which was established in 2000. The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, its dedicated staff and volunteers, continue to meet the challenge of service and the pledge to promote prevention through education. To respond immediately in time of crisis and to offer support and compassion throughout the healing process - to this we commit ourselves as we work for the elimination of violence in personal relationships.
Also, in 2000, "Alice" became the Center's first therapy dog. "Alice" earned her certification from "Love on a Leash" program at the Foundation for Pet Provided Therapy, Oceanside, CA. "Alice" served at the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center until retiring in 2007. "Walter" also certified by "Love on a Leash" took over the therapy dog responsibilities in 2007.
In early 2007, the Center began providing counseling services in a suite of offices on-site at the YWCA Shelter in South Fargo. The arrangement between the two non-profit agencies offers easier access to counseling services for victims staying at the Shelter and those who live in the neighborhoods in the southern reaches of the F-M Metro area.
The Meredith Haugen Play Therapy Room was dedicated to the agency in July 2008 as a tribute to the late Meredith Haugen, an RACC volunteer. The Haugen family was instrumental in securing support to see this project through to completion. The play therapy room is designed to assist the RACC counseling staff to provide a non-threatening therapy experience in a child-focused setting.