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A "Visionary Voice" For Ohio Sexual Assault Victims

PHOTO: Teresa Matthews of Ohio is being honored for her work to prevent sexual violence and help survivors. Credit: Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Assault.
PHOTO: Teresa Matthews of Ohio is being honored for her work to prevent sexual violence and help survivors. Credit: Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Assault.
April 11, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – One-in-five women has reported being raped in her lifetime, and more than 40 percent of Ohio women are victims of other types of sexual assault.

An Ohio woman is being honored for her work to help survivors and prevent sexual violence.

Teresa Matthews is a witness victim coordinator with the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office and is one of 29 people across the nation given the 2014 National Visionary Voice Award from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

She says helping victims is a job that takes dedication.

"A lot has gone into the work that I've done over the last few years, so I'm honored, humbled of course, but very appreciative," she says.

Matthews' work has included leadership in county-level sexual assault response, sex offender management and addressing sexual assault kit backlogs with a victim-centered approach.

She also has organized rallies and events in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is April.

Matthews says there is still not enough awareness about sexual violence, and too many victims are not treated fairly.

She is among those working to educate the courts, law enforcement, and all citizens that rape happens at all levels, and to any person.

And she says there's much more work to be done.

"One of the things that we really want to get out here is that survivors can have a voice,” she stresses. “We need to build up more rape crisis centers across the state so people can have more access to services regardless of where you live in the state of Ohio."

Matthews says she continues to advocate for better supports and funding to help victims, and there is always a need for more people to get involved.

She says volunteers can assist at agencies, the rape crisis hotline or help survivors at hospitals, so they know there are people who will support them through the end.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH