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Historic Highlights

The second oldest rape crisis center in the country and the oldest in New England, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center was founded in 1973 in the Cambridge Women's Center by a group of volunteers and survivors dedicated to building a hotline to answer calls from rape survivors. 

Today, we are a national leader in providing comprehensive, free services for survivors of sexual violence as well as educating organizations and communities about sexual violence response and prevention. In the field, BARCC is known for staying at the leading edge of change by listening to the diversity of survivors and families that seek services, working to grow and innovate for improved outcomes for survivors, and managing resources for stability and planned growth impact. The engagement of community volunteers remains a critical strategy in achieving BARCC's mission. One of the other key strategies for achieving BARCC’s mission is the recruitment and retention of outstanding talent in our internship program and staff and bold partnerships to facilitate change.   

Dive deeper into some of the landmark moments that have made BARCC what it is today. We’ve grown and changed over the years, but our foundations have remained constant: listening to survivors, building programs based on their needs, and influencing social change.  

1972–73: BARCC’s founding 

In the fall of 1972, a group of women in the Greater Boston area began looking for resources for survivors of sexual violence. They found nothing—and decided to do everything. Read more about the founding of BARCC.  

1973: Doors open

Boston Globe headline text that reads: Rape center opens today

BARCC opened its doors—and its hotline—on March 26, 1973. It started with a tiny office in the Cambridge Women’s Center. Hear from the first person to call BARCC’s hotline.

1984: First full-time staff member

Sohaila Abdulali was 21 years old and had just graduated from college when she saw an ad in the Boston Phoenix: “rape crisis center looking for coordinator.” Read about her experiences at BARCC and the Cambridge Womens' Center

1998: Specialized services for male survivors

Though BARCC had offered services to male survivors since 1998, the organization launched an outreach and awareness campaign in the early 2000s, after the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal brought the issue of childhood sexual abuse—particularly among boys—to the fore of public consciousness, prompting a spike in calls to BARCC from male survivors. Read about the beginning of BARCC's specialized services for male survivors

2010: Youth initiative launched

BARCC’s work with youth began with the founding. From the beginning, teenagers called the hotline and volunteers held workshops and speaking engagements at schools. But the formalization of the youth initiative didn’t come until later. Learn more about BARCC's first formal youth initiative and the founding of the Youth Leadership Corps (YLC)

1973–today: BARCC in the media 

If you think the media does a poor job covering sexual violence today, check out how it was done 45 years ago, when BARCC was founded

2018: Web chat hotline launched

New technology, same compassionate support! Read more about how the web chat hotline made our oldest service more accessible. 

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