The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center (RACC) was one of the first programs in the Midwest to serve battered women and sexual assault victims. In November of 1975, the National Organization for Women (NOW) sponsored a “speak-out” on rape that brought medical, legal, and law enforcement professionals together to discuss the problem of rape. This group generated a coalition to include law enforcement, counselors, NOW Rape Task Force, rape victims, nurses, hospital social workers, and other interested people who determined that it was necessary to develop a rape crisis center in Fargo; this was accomplished in 1977.

Much like the group focused on rape, a task force of citizens concerned about domestic violence was developed in 1976. In 1977, the coalition of concerned people established a program to work with battered women called WomenAbuse. In 1977, services were provided to 37 victims of sexual assault and 73 battered women. The primary services at that time included crisis intervention and advocacy to adult victims of violence.  The first training program for volunteers occurred in the spring of 1978, resulting in volunteers assisting with after-hours calls.  The Rape Crisis Center and WomenAbuse incorporated as the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead in 1979. 

A major addition to client services was the development of a children’s treatment program in 1985. Individual and group counseling services were made available to children who had been sexually abused or who had witnessed domestic violence. By providing more comprehensive services to children, the goal was to intervene and break the generational cycle of victimization.

In 1988, RACC hired its first paralegal. This position, now called Criminal Justice Intervention Advocate, assisted victims of domestic violence as they petitioned the courts to obtain protection from their abuser through an Order for Protection.

In 1994, the CourtWatch program was formally added to the Center’s services. Modeled after Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), this program has three major objectives which include promoting public awareness about the criminal justice system; protecting victims’ rights; and identifying changes that need to be made in the system.

RACC also expanded its service delivery with outreach counselors traveling to Traill County (Hillsboro), Clay County (Hawley and Barnesville), and Wahpeton in Richland County through Three Rivers Crisis Center. In 1996, outreach was added to three junior high and middle schools in Fargo and to Lisbon in Ransom County through the Abuse Resource Network.

In January, 1994, RACC opened offices in the Clay County Family Service Center in Moorhead and in Breckenridge in Wilkin County. Unfortunately, funding from Minnesota was cut in 2004 which resulted in the closure of RACC offices in the Clay County Family Service Center. The Clay County Criminal Justice Advocate is now housed in the Clay County Attorney’s Office. The Breckenridge office provides services to sexual assault and child sexual abuse victims. In 1995, the Department of Corrections provided funding to allow RACC to have a counselor in Barnesville one day a week.

From 1991 to 1999, RACC provided a counselor to Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM). In September of 1999, MSUM began providing counseling services on its own.

In 1998, RACC added services to West Fargo High School and Middle School. In 1999, services were added at the Rothsay schools in Wilkin County. In addition, Fargo North High was added as an outreach site in late 1999. In 2000, services were added to Moorhead Junior and Senior High Schools, West Fargo Community High School, Woodrow Wilson Community High School, and Mayville State University.

In 2001, outreach was added to Fargo South High School, Red River Area Learning Center, Dakota Boys Ranch and Norman County Victim Assistance Program. Again, cuts in Minnesota funding resulted in the loss of outreach services to Norman County. North Dakota State University (NDSU) was an outreach site from 2002 to 2004.

In 2005, a Rape and Abuse Crisis Center Family Advocate was placed on-site at the Red River Children's Advocacy Center. Children affected by sexual abuse and their non-offending caregivers are provided advocacy during the initial care and are offered long-term counseling through the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center.

Today, services have been expanded to provide ongoing individual and group counseling to victims and their significant others. Group counseling is offered to battered women, children who have experienced and witnessed domestic violence, adolescent sexual assault victims/pre-adolescent victims/child sexual abuse victims, adult sexual assault victims, and male sexual assault victims. RACC counselors also co-facilitate batterer’s treatment with Solutions Behavioral Healthcare Professionals.

The volunteer advocates continue to be an essential compliment to the staff of RACC and the volunteer program has continued to expand. A 40-hour comprehensive volunteer training program is offered in the spring and fall of each year.

The primary service area continues to be Cass County of North Dakota and Clay County of Minnesota. Secondary service areas include Traill, Richland, and Ransom Counties of North Dakota and Wilkin County in Minnesota. However, services are available to all victims, no matter where they live.

From the first speaking engagement on January 11th, 1977, to an appearance on Good Morning, America in 1982, to today, the public education component continues to be a very important part of the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center’s services.

The first Speakers’ Bureau was organized in October, 1978. From that, RACC has expanded into prevention programs for preschool, elementary, middle school, high school, and college students. Training seminars are presented for professionals such as law enforcement personnel, attorneys, judges, clergy, medical personnel, and social workers. Presentations are made to service organizations, business professionals, the faith community, and other public groups.

The Red Flag Green Flag® People Program, a sexual abuse prevention program for early elementary age children, was first piloted in 1980 to a third grade class in Dilworth, MN. Annie, a book designed to encourage children to explore their feelings about confusing touches, was first introduced as Once I Was A Little Bit Frightened in 1980. It was renamed Annie in 1983. In 1992, a similar book for boys, Andy, was introduced. The first “Violence in Dating Relationships” presentation was made in May, 1983.

The filmstrip series T is for Touching, a sexual abuse prevention program for three to six year old children, was completed in February, 1985. The Woodrow Project: A Sexual Abuse Prevention Curriculum for Persons with Developmental Disabilities was developed in December, 1986. New Beginnings, a treatment manual for implementing a support group for female adolescent and young adult victims of sexual assault and I Wish the Hitting Would Stop, a workbook for children who witness domestic violence, were developed in 1987.

In 1994, two new prevention products were introduced: Red Flag Green Flag® ABC’s of Personal Safety for preschool children and Red Flag Green Flag® II Sexual Abuse Prevention Program for older elementary age children. In 1996, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources’ The ABC’s of Personal Safety was translated into Spanish and English and English and Spanish videos were produced to accompany the printed materials.

In 1995, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources began marketing a new line of products, “Peace On Earth Begins At Home” t-shirts, sweatshirts and magnets. In March, 1996, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources’ marketing efforts expanded to include a web site with online ordering. Also in 1996, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources began marketing a board game for use with domestic violence victims, “It’s Your Move.”

In 1996, I Wish the Hitting Would Stop was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. An article about this same product was on the front page of WomaNews of the Chicago Tribune on January 5th, 1997. In 1997, Red Flag Green Flag® joined the Family Violence Publishers Consortium and Source ReSource, a Canadian publisher, began distributing Red Flag Green Flag® products.

In 2000, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources celebrated its 20th anniversary. In recognition of this achievement, the Associated Press featured Red Flag Green Flag® Resources in a newspaper article. The article appeared in newspapers in at least 132 cities located in 42 states. While RACC celebrated this anniversary, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources materials were being used in all fifty states, all twelve Canadian provinces and over sixty other countries.

Also, in 2000, Red Flag Green Flag® Resources received a Women’s Peacepower Foundation Award in the “Media - Print Manual/Handbook” category for the Red Flag Green Flag® People children’s workbook. The Peacepower Media Awards are designed to honor collaborative efforts associated with media projects for their outstanding efforts to promote peace in the lives of abused women and their families.

In 2001, thanks to a grant from the Best Buy Children’s Foundation, RFGF Resources produced the classroom video, “I Wish the Hitting Would Stop” for children and facilitators. Nationally known experts on domestic violence, Mark Wynn and Sarah Buel, appeared in the video. In 2002, an accompanying classroom curriculum was completed. 528 classroom curricula were sent to domestic violence programs or school districts across the United States in cities that had Best Buy stores. In 2003, the Fargo Public School System adopted the program to be integrated into the curriculum for all fourth grade students.

In 2002, Power Plays, a video featuring S.A.V.E., RACC’s youth skit team, was produced for use with teens and young adults. In 2004, the skit team was chosen to be part of a national program, Youth Outreach for Victim Assistance. Members attended a national conference in Texas. They also produced a PSA and won the MN Medical Alliance Award for Violence Prevention.

All of these resources are now utilized for RACC educational purposes only and are not marketed for sale.

Beginning in 1983, RACC, in conjunction with area churches, sponsored “Love Without Fear Week,” a domestic violence awareness project. Each fall since 1991, RACC has also sponsored a “Take Back the Night” march and rally. This gathering brings community members together for a peaceful protest against violence.

All of these resources are now utilized for RACC educational purposes only and are not marketed for sale.

Beginning in 1983, RACC, in conjunction with area churches, sponsored “Love Without Fear Week,” a domestic violence awareness project. Each fall since 1991, RACC has also sponsored a “Take Back the Night” march and rally. This gathering brings community members together for a peaceful protest against violence.

Alice became the Center's first therapy dog, earning her certification from the "Love on a Leash" program at the Foundation for Pet Provided Therapy, Oceanside, CA. Alice served at the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center until her retirement in 2007. Walter, also certified by "Love on a Leash," took over the therapy dog responsibilities in 2007.

In early 2007, the Center began providing counseling services in a suite of offices on-site at the YWCA Shelter in South Fargo. The arrangement between the two nonprofit agencies offers easier access to counseling services for victims staying at the shelter and those who live in the neighborhoods in the southern part of the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The Meredith Haugen Play Therapy Room was dedicated in July 2008 as a tribute to the late Meredith Haugen, an RACC volunteer. The Haugen family was instrumental in securing support to see this project through to completion. The play therapy room is designed to assist the RACC counseling staff to provide a non-threatening therapy experience in a child-focused setting.

RACC continues to offer client services at no cost. This is made possible through federal, state, county, and city grants, foundation grants and gifts, and donations from individuals, organizations, and businesses. The agency hosts two major fundraisers each year, “Kids Are Our Business Breakfast” and the “Harvest Moon Fling.”