Resilience History

Resilience, formerly Rape Victim Advocates, has been providing crisis intervention for sexual assault victims since 1974 in Chicago.

Resilience was founded by Dr. Natalie A. Stephens, an OB/GYN at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and 10 medical and nursing students and other staff. They had witnessed too many victims leaving the emergency room in an emotionally worsened state than when they arrived, and they set out to provide victims with the support necessary to start recovering. Decades later, Resilience remains true to its founding principles and the following mission:

Resilience is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the healing and empowerment of sexual assault survivors through non-judgmental crisis intervention counseling, individual and group counseling, and medical and legal advocacy in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. Resilience provides public education and institutional advocacy in order to improve the treatment of sexual assault survivors and to effect positive change in policies and public attitudes toward sexual assault.

“Resilience gave me the tools I needed to heal.”


Resilience Client

For 12 years, Resilience was run entirely by volunteers. In 1986, the agency hired its first executive director. Resilience currently employs 38 staff at our two community-based offices and our main office downtown.  Volunteers remain key to Resilience’s ability to offer quality, 24-hour services; at present, 249 volunteer advocates are key to Resilience’s 24- hour crisis intervention in 15 Chicago area hospitals. Resilience served over 1,500 survivors and their loved ones last fiscal year, and tens of thousands more people through our public education and professional training.

Resilience recognizes the diversity of Chicago and is committed to being accessible for services, employment and volunteer opportunities to all regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical/mental ability and economic status. Of the survivors of sexual violence who received direct services from Resilience during our last fiscal year, 22% are white, 21% are African American, 23% are Latino/a or Hispanic1% are biracial/multiracial, 4% are Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, and 1% are Native American or Alaskan Native.  85% identified as female, 9% as male and 3% as transgender, genderqueer or gender non-conforming.  Survivor ages ranged from infant to over 65 years old, with 40% between the ages of 20 and 29.

Delivery of these services makes Resilience one of the most comprehensive crisis intervention programs for rape victims in Chicago, and the only rape crisis center in Chicago that is a full-service agency with the single focus of sexual violence. Resilience will serve anyone — at no cost to the victim — who seeks treatment for sexual violence at one of our hospitals. And Resilience’s advocacy efforts do not stop at the individual level; the experience and information gained from providing direct services informs and strengthens our participation in institutional change.

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