COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The arrival of Deshaun Watson in Cleveland has sparked plenty of backlash as advocates of sexual assault speak out against the Browns’ blockbuster move.  

While on the field there are renewed playoff — and even Super Bowl — hopes in Cleveland, off-the-field, his arrival in Ohio is much more triggering for survivors of sexual assault. 

“It’s a shame. The initial reaction is disheartening,” admits Rose Beltre, the President & CEO of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. 

But at the same time, the Browns’ decision to bring Watson to Cleveland was not a surprise for many like Beltre. 

It isn’t the first controversial move by an NFL team in recent years and one that reflects money over values. 

“We are so accustomed to organizations that have power, financial power, and control dynamics, to continuously overstep and look the other side,” Beltre gripes. 

The move has not only divided fans, it’s also become a trigger. 

“Cleveland specifically is a very loyal fan base. There are people still on the fence,” says Beltre. “Even survivors of sexual violence that are also fans, find themselves in this crossroads.”  

On Thursday, a second Texas grand jury chose not to indict Watson on criminal charges related to claims of sexual assault from nearly two dozen women. 

Even if criminal charges aren’t filed against the Browns’ new quarterback, for Beltre, it doesn’t clear his name among survivors. 

“The reality is that the legal system has continuously failed survivors of sexual violence,” says Beltre. “So he can claim his innocence all he wants, but there’s 22 cases! Sexual assault and harassment, which is not only rape. So there’s continuum of violence that he has gotten away with.” 

On top of the civil lawsuits pending, Watson awaits his punishment from the NFL. 

For Beltre, Watson must begin working to restore his name before he takes the field. 

And with the start of the season nearly five months away, Beltre has a message to Browns fans ahead of next season. 

“First it’s accountability and admitting to it, it’s being involved with the issues, it’s becoming a sponsor,” as Beltre lays out the steps Watson needs to take. “If it were up to me, they should be boycotting. But it’s not up to me,” she adds regarding Browns fans rooting for the team next season. 

Beltre says that survivors of sexual violence simply want to be heard and believed, adding that progress can’t be made until we change the culture of victim blaming.