County opens new crisis center for crime victims.

Officials cut the ribbon last week on a new center for the victims of rape and other crimes.

Operating on three floors in a rehabbed county building at 1060 Madison, the Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center staffs victim advocates and counselors who provide comprehensive victim support with an array of services.

The new center is a rebranded version of the two agencies, Sandy Bromley, director of the center, said.

The Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center was formerly located on Madison about a mile away from its new home.

Bromley said the two agencies, which were previously separate entities, were combined about nine years ago, but were never rebranded as one "unified" resource.

click to enlarge The new Shelby County Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center - MAYA SMITH
  • Maya Smith
  • The new Shelby County Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center

"We are just excited to be able to rebrand under one unified name," Bromley said. "We're able to provide services in one safe place where victims can come. The minute you walk in the door, you see everything was intentionally designed to help with trauma. Even the colors are calming. We have lots of blues and yellows."

Victims of any crimes such as sexual assault, rape, gun and domestic violence can receive support from the center.

Counselors help clients deal with trauma and develop coping skills, while victim advocates work to help clients figure out what their next step is. That could mean helping them get crime victim compensation, filing a protection order, or walking them through the court process.

Though the center is independent of law enforcement, Bromley said it often works with law enforcement and the courts. The decision to press charges or pursue other legal options is always left to the victim, Bromley said.

All of the services are free and confidential, Bromley said. Those seeking support can walk in during the center's business hours (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.) or call to make an appointment.

Working with other agencies and using DNA, the center also assists in solving rape cold cases, "giving victims a small bit of relief," Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said Monday.

Harris said that the center, "an impressive operation," is doing "some of the most important work the country is involved in right now.

"In many ways, the Crime Victims & Rape Crisis Center is the centerpiece for all the various efforts in our community to provide assistance to survivors and their families," Harris said.

The new space also allows for more space to meet with victims in private and more room to grow, as Bromley said the center is "constantly trying to make sure we are increasingly responsive to victims."

Currently, the center serves about 650 victims each month and assists with close to 60 forensic exams or rape kits. Bromley said "we could always do more.

"We talk a lot in our community about crime rates, but we have to remember that every time we talk about a crime, a victim has been impacted by that crime," Bromley said. "That's why we're here — to help with that impact."

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