Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center Celebrates the Opening of Dallasoffice
The Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center (DARCC) announces the opening of its Dallas location, expanding DARCC’s comprehensive sexual assault treatment program in the Metroplex. The new office will be unveiled at a community open house April 11 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Jackson Building, Lower Level, of Texas Health Dallas, 8200 Walnut Hill Lane. The Dallas headquarters will strengthen and improve DARRC’s mission of providing rape survivors and their loved ones the resources they need to reclaim their lives. Led by founders Courtney Underwood and Executive Director Jana Barker, DARCC and its trained advocates help those impacted by sexual violence navigate the journey of healing in a safe and confidential environment.
“To kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Dallas opening allows us to expand our footprint in the region and treat more victims who’ve been suffering in silence for so long,” said Underwood, a rape survivor who helped launch the center after years of advocating for improved sexual assault services in Dallas County. “A significant step forward for DARCC, the new space allows us to double our staff and offer more counseling and advocacy and prevention programs. It allows us to make sure victims feel safe to come forward, regardless of when or where they were assaulted. And that’s essential. Speaking from my own experience, it’s incredibly hard for someone whose been assaulted to come forward and tell anyone what happened, especially strangers.”
Underwood is part of a group of women who recognized the dire need for DARCC. Before it opened, no agency in Dallas County offered full-scale comprehensive services specifically designed for the victims of sexual violence. Underwood and others also discovered a lack of adequate educational prevention services aimed at reducing sexual violence in the community. In 2008, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) made a formal assessment of Dallas area services and found there was no dedicated sexual assault hotline, volunteers weren’t being used in a hospital-based program, and services were limited for adults who had been sexually assaulted.
“It’s crucial for Dallas to have a center of support for sexual assault victims that will also help see their attackers are prosecuted,” said Craig Watkins, Dallas County District Attorney. “Many of these criminals are repeat offenders, which makes prosecuting them that much more important. Thanks to Courtney Underwood’s leadership and commitment, and thanks to community support, this vital center is growing stronger and stronger.”
Since its opening, DARCC has become Dallas County’s first and only independent rape crisis center, providing free and unlimited advocacy and counseling support services to anyone affected by sexual violence or abuse and their families.
“We are proud to help expand this important Center where victims can receive compassionate care in a time of crisis,” said Brent Christopher, president and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas.
The W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation of Communities Foundation of Texas provided the grant, which created Dallas County’s first Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) Suites and the county’s first Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program at Texas Health Dallas. DARRC is part of the collaborative partnership overseeing s both the SANE program and the SAFE suites.
“DARCC is significantly increasing the resources accessible to those who are affected by sexual assault, and is serving as a model for other centers that will be opened in the future. The center faithfully addresses a top priority of Will Caruth, who entrusted his charitable legacy to CFT -- to see support for public safety initiatives keep pace with the city’s rapid growth,” said Christopher.
City leaders and local law enforcement officials will join representatives of the Communities Foundation of Texas, Texas Health Dallas, Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation and DARCC for a community open house. Guest speakers include Brent Christopher, Craig Watkins and Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown. Tours of the new W.W. Caruth Jr. Center for SAFE Healing will be available following the program.
DARCC will also honor District Attorney Watkins and Chief David Brown for their dedication to making Dallas a SAFE Place for victims of sexual abuse to heal. They will be presented with DARCC’s SAFE Place to Heal Award: Excellence in Justice, for their dedication to justice and improving the safety of our city and their absolute commitment to giving every victim of sexual abuse a voice and providing them with the resources they deserve.
Before DARCC, Dallas was the largest city in the nation without a certified SANE program or an independent rape crisis center. Prior to the center’s opening, Parkland was the only hospital able to provide admissible forensic evidence in sexual assault cases which occurred in Dallas County. Other hospitals could treat a rape victim, but only Parkland could gather court admissible forensic evidence.
“We are enthusiastic about working closely with DARCC,” said Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown. “Dallas handles between 600 and 700 rape cases each year, but those numbers are misleading because as many as 80 percent of all rapes go unreported. DARCC serves an important role in encouraging more women to report sexual assaults, which is the essential first step in making sure criminals are prosecuted and jailed so they can’t assault others.”
Department of Justice statistics reveal that one in every four women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Statistics show that fewer than 18 percent of sexual assault cases are reported to law enforcement. However, statistics also show that there is a 95 percent increase in successful prosecution of cases where evidence is collected by a SANE certified nurse. Dallas County, with a population of more than 2.5 million, had only 459 sexual assault cases of victims age 17 or older reported to the Dallas County District Attorney’s office in 2008. Since the launch of DARCC in September 2009 and the Texas Health Dallas SANE program in March 2010, sexual assault reporting in Dallas County has increased by 25 percent, according to the Dallas Police Department.
“The prevalence of sexual violence is staggering and victimizes hundreds of children and adults across our county each year. As the Center continues to grow, we’re working to transform the traumatic effects of sexual abuse and empower victims to become survivors,” said Underwood.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, please call the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center hotline at 972-641-RAPE.
About Communities Foundation of Texas
Since its founding in 1953, Communities Foundation of Texas has grown to become one of the nation’s largest community foundations. Through its work, the foundation enhances the experience and impact of charitable giving. It serves as a hub for collaboration between donors, nonprofits and other funding organizations to stimulate creative solutions to key community challenges. This is accomplished through a variety of donor-advised, designated and discretionary funds that are created by donors like the Caruths through their legacies of generosity. CFT strives to thoughtfully and effectively support its diverse donors and grantees by providing exemplary service, by demonstrating accountability, and by generating lasting impact in the community. The foundation professionally manages almost 900 component funds and has awarded over $1 billion in charitable grants.
About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is an 898-bed acute care hospital and recognized clinical program leader, having provided compassionate care to the residents of Dallas and surrounding communities since 1966. US News and World Report has ranked Texas Health Dallas among the nation’s best hospitals in digestive disorders, orthopedics, and neurology and neurosurgery. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Dallas has approximately 4,000 employees and an active medical staff of more than 1,000 physicians. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit www.TexasHealth.org.
About Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center
Through the commitment and hard work of a group of local residents Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center (DARCC) began its services by obtaining a non-profit 501c status and starting a 24-hr hotline answered by trained volunteers in May of 2009. DARCC is committed to the establishment of a comprehensive program which will provide prevention, education and outreach for the community as well as intervention services through advocacy, crisis intervention and counseling to anyone whose life has been affected by sexual violence or abuse