Sexual abuse survivors get new support facility in Skokie

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in Skokie. (Stephanie Golden/Medill)

by Stephanie Golden

The opening of the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center’s Skokie facility expands on 30 years of free services for abuse survivors and their families.

“I don’t think there is anything more upsetting than an innocent child being assaulted, taken advantage of and mentally manipulated to think what happened to them is their fault,” said Amy Junge, the nonprofit’s CEO.

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Dozens of people gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony this week at 4232 Dempster St. Often referred to as the ZCenter, it offers free counseling, support groups and advocacy services to sexual abuse and assault survivors and their non-offending loved ones in a unique healing environment. The center’s warm and inviting atmosphere is an important part of the healing journey, said Adam Robinson, ZCenter executive director.

“It gives them a space to heal those wounds so they will not have to continue on feeling powerless or out of control but feel a renewed sense of who they are, their purpose and their meanings,” Robinson said.

The organization served more than 40,000 people last year at its Gurnee location according to ZCenter officials. To address the increasing number of sexual abuse survivors, it was important for the organization to add a second facility.

    Sexual violence is more common than people realize according to health experts.

  • One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused or assaulted before the age of 18 years old.
  • Approximately 80 percent of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.
  • One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.
  • 98 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
  • Every 107 seconds, another sexual assault occurs in the U.S.

The opening of the facility in Skokie was made possible by many generous financial donations many generous financial donations, including The North Suburban Healthcare Foundation, the Village of Skokie, and Designs for Dignity, said Junge.

Anitra Farmer, a human resources manager for Hollister Inc. and a  financial donor, said her contribution and attendance at the ribbon cutting ceremony had a personal meaning.

“A dear cousin, she had been dealing with the guilt for many years,”  Farmer said. “So the fact that she did not feel that she had anyone to go to touched me.” Her cousin confided in her even though she “had no clue the work I had done at the Z-Center.”

As a nonprofit organization, ZCenter has created a registry where individuals can purchase supplies for the new office. The registry can be found at:

For more information call the ZCenter at 847-872-7799. Help is available 24 hours a day.

Photo at top: From left to right Jennifer Harris, ZCenter board president, Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen, Torrie Flink, retired ZCenter CEO, Howard Meyer, Skokie Chamber of Commerce executive director, Adam Robinson, ZCenter executive director and Amy Junge, ZCenter CEO. (ZCenter)