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Save the Date: 40th Anniversary Luncheon

Celebrating 40 Years of Healing
Save the Date!
Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center’s
40th Anniversary Celebration
June 16, 2023
More details to come



A Message from ZCenter: Annual Appeal

As we reach the close of 2022, we are excited about what 2023 will bring. Next year, Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center will celebrate our 40th Anniversary. Reflecting on our challenging work and the thousands of survivors we helped over these many decades, we know that we could not have done it without your support. The last three years were difficult for everyone. For our clients, this meant coping with the isolation of Covid quarantines along with the devastating effects of sexual assault. Your generosity allowed ZCenter to reach survivors during those difficult times and provide the life-saving services they desperately needed. Our team found innovative ways to work with our clients and faced those challenges head-on. In the end, we emerged stronger and more resilient.


After dedicating her life’s work to ZCenter, Torrie Flink retired and entrusted our mission to Sandy T. Williams, our new Executive Director. Sandy brings a passion for helping survivors and a wealth of experience leading non-profits. Our leadership may be new, but ZCenter’s mission to mobilize the community toward ending systemic sexual violence while amplifying the voice of survivors through trauma-informed care, advocacy, and prevention education remains the same. Last year, ZCenter provided direct services to 919 survivors and their non-offending loved ones. In addition, through Outreach Efforts, we presented our Prevention Education curriculum to over 10,000 students and worked with another 7,842 community members to raise awareness about the effects of sexual violence.


One thing that has not changed is our need for your support. ZCenter serves clients as young as three years old and has worked with clients that were 99 years old. ZCenter offers free, confidential services to survivors of sexual violence of all ages and their non-offending loved ones with crisis intervention, advocacy, and referral services. While survivors work to heal, our supporters show them we are united in courage to end sexual abuse and assault. Your tax-deductible donation directly impacts survivors. Donate today by using the form below or online at zcenter.org/donate-to-zcenter . ZCenter relies on your courage, passion, strength, and partnership. The supportive community we build together is critical and transformative for the survivors we serve. We look forward to a year of achievements by adding more allies to our human rights mission to end sexual violence. Please consider a gift to help survivors in your community today.


With deepest gratitude,
Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center Clients, Board of Directors, and Staff

Please download & print donation form here to donate or donate online here.



Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center is pleased to announce Sandy T. Williams has joined our team as the new Executive Director. Williams has 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector, with nine years helping survivors of domestic violence. She will successfully lead ZCenter in the advancement of our mission.

Mike Farrell, ZCenter’sBoard President: “We are very excited to welcome Sandy as the ZCenter’s new Executive Director. She brings a wealth of experience and energy, which are critical to her success in leading our organization.”

Most recently, Williams served as Executive Director of Between Friends where she successfully led the organization through the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic while also strengthening and diversifying its board of directors, expanding programming, and developing a strong financial foundation for the organization. She previously provided leadership and management of the residential and community-based domestic violence services of YWCA Evanston North Shore.

Sandy T. Williams is an innovative leader with a passion for addressing issues of gender-based violence, women’s health, and systemic inequities. Her experience includes various senior leadership positions in programming, fund development, training, and education.

“ZCenter has a long-standing history of working collaboratively with survivors to address the pervasive issue of sexual violence. I am excited to join this dynamic team and build upon its strong foundation of service and advocacy, as well as advance the organization to new heights while deepening the impact of our work,” Williams states.

Williams is a certified domestic violence professional, holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign, a Master’s Degree in Couple and Family Therapy from Capella University, and a Master of Public Administration with a specialization in nonprofit management from Roosevelt University.


Happy Pride Month!

“Mom & Dad I have nothing to tell you”: An Analysis of Coming out (or not) During Pride Month

Now that June is here, and stores and streets alike have become much more colorful, those of us who are questioning their Sexuality or Gender Identity (or who are still in the closet) might be feeling more pressure to make a huge decision: coming out. A large portion of Queer representation in popular media tends to put quite a bit of focus on this, both in terms of the process of coming out, and the feelings and pressure that others may put on you to define your Sexuality, Gender, etc.

Certainly, during Pride Month, when the Queer community is much more visible, many more people will be thinking about their own Gender and Sexuality, and wondering if it may be time to make that crucial decision. Social media is filled with influencers and celebrities and friends alike coming out, sharing their Gender Identity and Sexuality with the world. Commercials are oversaturated with messages encouraging you to celebrate your identity by purchasing pride merchandise or sticking a pronoun pin on your backpack, and TV shows and books surrounding the LGBTQ+ experience almost always involve coming out in some form or another as part of the plot. The pressure to find your identity and broadcast to the world is a message that gets churned out everywhere, and during Pride Month, the message is especially glaring. While coming out can be an exciting opportunity to celebrate yourself and your community, I’d like to acknowledge that it is not always safe for everyone in the Queer community to come out.

In communities where LGTBQ+ issues are ignored or actively shunned, or in homes where Queer people might be reliant on people who may not be supportive of their identities, coming out might pose a threat to one’s safety. People who are not yet comfortable with their Sexuality, Gender, or other aspects of their identity may feel pressure to conform and fit themselves into a label in order to come out – but the truth is there is never any pressure to come out. Coming out can be an exciting decision, but it is also deeply personal. How you choose to identify and who you choose to share that identity with is your decision, and your decision alone. You may decide to come out to everyone in your life, or you may decide not to come out at all. You might even only come out to one person. But no matter what, you are always a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and you are always welcome in the community. Your identity is valid, regardless of whether or not you’ve announced it to anyone. You are not any less Queer, any less valid, or any less yourself.

In a time where we put pressure on ourselves to find certain niches and communities to land in, and where social media pressures your to fit as many aspects of yourself as possible into a neat label, not coming out might feel like you are doing yourself and the community a disservice, but that is not at all the case. It is a big decision, so take your time. Keep yourself safe, and most importantly, be gentle with yourself.

Have a wonderful rest of your Pride Month, no matter where you are in the process.

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Written by Mikayla Chen (she/they), ZCenter Intern/ BA Psychology Candidate at Lake
Forest College

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence.

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.


Download pdf (English & Spanish)

Being an Ally

    • Trust your good intentions

You might not be a perfect advocate and you might feel that you don’t have much knowledge to support members of the LGBTQ+ community, however an imperfect advocate is much better than a silent bystander

  • Educate your self through professional development, inclusive development, inclusive workshops, or training and any other personal or professional growth opportunity.

Increase your awareness, especially in regards to gender-role stereotypes, gender-expression stereotypes, and possible internalized heteronormativism in your mind. Based on the awareness, you can reduce unintentional harm and create a safer and more inclusive classroom

  • Use more inclusive language

Use “they” pronouns instead of “he” or “she”

  • Confront any homophobic or negative marks

Many people use slurs without consideration for those they are offending. Teach others to not use terms that they do not fully understand because the incorrect use can result in harm.


When someone comes out to you and tells you they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) your initial response is important. They have likely spent time in advance thinking about whether or not to tell you, when and how to tell you and it’s likely that they chose to tell you because they see you or already know you as a supportive ally.

Here is what to remember if someone comes out to you:
1. Offer support but don’t assume they need any help.
2. Be a role model of acceptance.
3. Appreciate their courage.
4. Listen!Listen!Listen!
5. Assure and respect confidentiality
6. Remember that they have not changed.
7. Challenge traditional norms



  • 71% of LGBTQ youth reported feeling sad or hopeless for at least two weeks in the past year.
  • 39% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and non-binary youth having seriously considered suicide.
  • 71% of LGBTQ youth in our study reported discrimination due to either their sexual orientation or gender identity.


Understanding terms:

  • LGBTQIA+: An acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual, and many other terms (such as non-binary and pansexual_ that people use to describe their experiences of their gender, sexuality and physiological sex characteristics.
  • Queer(queerness): An umbrella term that is both an orientation and a community for those on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. This umbrella term can be used by anyone under the LGBTQ spectrum.

Understanding Sexuality:

  • Gay: This identity is used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex.
  • Lesbian: Defines queer attraction to women. Most commonly used as exclusively women who love women or non-binary people who love women. There is no one perfect definition that encompasses all experiences of lesbianism.
  • Bisexual: People who are sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender; attracted to both women and men.
  • Pansexual: People who are sexually attracted to all people regardless of gender identity.
  • Asexual: People who are not sexually attracted to any person regardless of gender identity.

Understanding Gender Expression:

  • Gender Identity: The gender a person feels they are inside. Only the individual can say what their gender identity is.
  • Gender non-conforming: A person who identifies as both genders, either gender or somewhere along the gender continuum, also known as gender non-binary or agender.
  • Transgender: When a person’s gender identity is different than what doctors assigned to then when they were born (sex assigned at birth).
  • Two-spirit: A person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit. It may be used by some indigenous people to describe their sexuality, gender, and/or spiritual identity.
  • Third gender: Concept in which individuals are categorized either by themselves or by society. As neither man or woman. It is also a social category present in societies that recognize three or more genders.

Intent V. Impact

  • Intent: Someone’s reasoning or motivation for doing something
  • Impact: How the action or conversation made someone else feel

Download pdf (English & Spanish)

The Importance of a Positive Self-Esteem

What is self-esteem?

According to the American Psychological Association it is “the degree to which the qualities and characteristics contained in one’s self-concept are perceived to be positive. It reflects a person’s physical self-image, view of his or her accomplishments and capabilities, and values and perceived success in living up to them, as well as the ways in which others view and respond to that person.” Not only does having a positive self-esteem mean valuing yourself but also that you value your capability to achieve. Your self-esteem is how you define yourself as a person including your personality, physical body, talents, and how other view you. Each individual focuses on different aspects for their self-esteem. 


Having a high self-esteem doesn’t mean that you think you are perfect. Your self-esteem can fluctuate. Having a positive self-esteem is important for your mental health. Having a positive self-esteem allows you to have coping skills that help you handle negative aspects. It also allows you to deal with stress in healthier ways. There are multiple ways to improve your self-esteem. A few examples are building positive relationships, seek support, and journal positive things in your life. Building positive relationships can help by staying positive. Seeking support such as finding a therapist to discuss strategies to help. Journaling positive things in your life can also help you focus on aspects you are happy about. These are small steps remember that we are building habits that contribute to a positive self-esteem. 


For continued learning, please reference the below sites:





Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

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