Today’s society takes for granted victim assistance services, such as 24 hour hotlines, shelters, counseling, and educational programs for spouses, rape victims, and abused children. In the early 1970’5, however, victims of crime most often kept the assault a secret due to a sense of shame and a scarcity of services. Elsie Slaw recognized the lack of help available in Lake County and spearheaded a movement that not only endures but also flourishes to this day.
In 1975, Ms. Slaw convened a meeting among concerned residents of Lake County and formed a Task Force on Sexual Assault to address the needs of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, Through her efforts, the Task Force created a hotline for victims of sexual assault in 1977. Realizing the tremendous need for advocacy and other services, the Task Force formed the Sexual Assault Center, now known as the Victim Resource Center of which Ms. Slaw was a founding member. As a result of Ms. Slaw’s vision and tenacity, the Victim Resource Center of Laurelwood Hospital has maintained the oldest, continuously operating hotline in Lake County. The hotline currently averages 2,000 calls per year.
In 1980, in response to the growing needs in Lake County , Ms. Slaw worked with others in founding Forbes House, a shelter for battered women. On a statewide level, she participated in a coalition to encourage access to victim services throughout Ohio, which resulted in the creation of the Ohio Coalition on Sexual Assault.
To date, Ms. Slaw has volunteered over 20,000 hours to assisting victims of crime. In 1992 she was honored as Volunteer of the Year for the UHHS Laurelwood Hospital. She also is active in the League of Women Voters and the Girl and Boy Scouts. In 1998, she received the prestigious Tri-County JC Penney Golden Rule Award.
While most people would prefer not discussing the abject details of victimization, Ms. Slaw has made it her mission to educate Lake County residents and elected officials of the prodigious need for crime prevention and intervention services. She was a pioneer in the area and through her professionalism and dedication, inspired others to join forces in meeting the needs of victims.
-Peggy Grant, Nominator