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Beyond Steubenville, rape case inspires action, angst among victims (+video)

The Steubenville rape case, like other high-profile sex-assault cases, has been a moment for victims nationwide to come forward. Some are emboldened, others feel re-traumatized.

Steubenville rape trial: Day 3
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In the first two days of this week’s rape trial in Steubenville, Ohio, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center received more calls than in any other two-day period in its history.

“It’s stirring up emotions for a lot more people, because you can’t run away from the media coverage,” says the center’s spokeswoman, Sondra Miller.

The juvenile court case, in which two teenage boys are accused of raping an incapacitated teenage girl after a party, has garnered national attention – alongside other stories this week about sexual assaults in the military and a settlement in Los Angeles over abuse by Catholic priests.

The saturation coverage impacts people in different ways – sparking everything from anger and fear to inspiration and a determination to help others.

“If you’re a survivor [of sexual assault or abuse] and you’re seeing those messages over and again, it can certainly trigger you – bring back flashbacks, anxiety, and so forth,” Ms. Miller says.

For others, “seeing the Steubenville case spurs them to action,” she adds. Calls from people wanting to volunteer have surged.

Support centers stand ready to help people who decide to come forward – often telling their story for the first time – in the wake of such high-profile cases.

The intense coverage of the Sandusky abuse case at Penn State resulted in a 300 percent increase in calls from men to the Cleveland center, and led to the creation of a male support group, possibly the only one of its kind in Ohio, Miller says.

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