Up & Coming Weekly

November 02, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 10 of 24

10 UCW NOVEMBER 3-9, 2021 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM No means no. Rape is a serious crime and one-in-six women in the United States have experienced completed or attempted rape in their lifetime. "We have been talking about re- naming our agency for 13 years and the legal name is Rape Crisis Volun- teers of Cumberland County," said Deanne Gerdes, executive director, Phoenix Center. "A couple of years ago we dropped the word volunteers because it just did not sound professional according to a General on Fort Bragg." She added, "Rape and crisis really does identify victims so that anytime a victim had to say they were going to the Rape Crisis Center to a boss, family member or friend, it automatically outs them and not all victims are in a crisis." e background story behind the name change involves Gerdes being at a human trafficking trial where she had a conversation with the mother of one of the victims. Most sex traffickers brand their victims with some kind of tattoo using a symbol, initial, name, etc. is traf- ficker had tattooed his name in Ro- man numerals on this victim's back. So, when the victim went through the program, one of the things they im- mediately do is to remove the tattoo. e victim had a phoenix to put in the place of the old tattoo to cover it up. e mom of the victim explained that the phoenix is a mythical bird that rises from the ashes. "So when she was telling me the story I knew we needed to be renamed the Phoenix Center," said Gerdes. "We had a board meeting two days later and they were for the name change so we have renamed the building, not the agency, the Phoenix Center." e Phoenix Center also provides services to victims of other crimes, not just sexual violence. ey offer services for domestic violence, human trafficking and help family members of homicide victims. "We have expanded our services and we just don't say no to anyone who comes in our doors, needs help and we certainly know the resources in town and can help them get them," Gerdes said. During the COVID-19 pandemic, sexual assault statistics went down. "It could be that people are not out as much as they used to be and it is not back to the way it was before the pandemic," explained Gerdes. Gerdes added that unfortunately the domestic violence statistics are higher and it has been a weird switch for them. e domestic violence cases were much more violent during COVID-19. "People were stuck inside of their homes together with children, their jobs were crazy and things just got much more violent," Gerdes said. e annual Walk Awhile in Her Shoes fundraiser event is scheduled for March 25, 2022. Volunteers are needed. For more information call the 24-hour local hot- line , 910-485-7273, visit https://www. rapecrisisonline.org/ or the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 800-656-4673. NEWS Crisis center pens new name by DR. SHANESSA FENNER DR. SHANESSA FENNER, Principal, WT Brown Elementary School. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. 910-484-6200. A FREE public event Refreshments & door prizes! For more information: 910.484.6200 & presents Catering is provided by Two Brothers Catering Nov 9 th 2021 5:30 pm to 7 pm

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