Charlotte’s ‘Brave Step’ Celebrates New Program To Help Those Afflicted by Sexual Abuse


For four years the non-profit organization Brave Step has served the Charlotte community, and on Wednesday evening, the organization’s personnel, clients and community members came together to celebrate that accomplishment, along with a host of other achievements the organization has made during the past year.

Founded in 2014, Brave Step’s mission is to strengthen adults impacted by sexual abuse by providing a meaningful step on their healing journey. The survivor-led organization designs personalized care plans and offers inspiration, education and connection for survivors and their loved ones.

“In the last year, Brave Step has taken bold steps in building a solid foundation to serve an unmet need,” said Seth Langson, board president. “We learned a great deal, made improvements and are poised to serve even more in the year ahead. We couldn’t be more grateful for the support we have received from the greater Charlotte community as well as survivors and their loved ones.”

Over the past year, Brave Step experienced a number of firsts, highlighted by the successful execution of the organization’s clinical program prototype, which served more people than expected. Through the program, Brave Step introduced individual counseling, group therapy, an empowerment program and ways to find one’s voice in the Charlotte area. The project was funded by a generous donation from Reemprise Fund and the results were analyzed by System Wide Solutions Inc. (SWS).

Through the clinical program, Brave Step saw 69 individuals receive services, with 35 being new clients. A total of 19 of those 35 entered counseling or therapy services. Approximately half of the potential clients did not require therapy services and utilized another service offered.

“Through our analysis, we found that while many programs and practitioners recognize there are many survivors who could benefit from services, few, if any, have made a concerted, organized effort to identify these survivors, determine what their needs are and refer them to the most effective services at the lowest cost. That’s not the case with the program Brave Step has implemented,” said George Appenzeller of System Wide Solutions, Inc. “We found that Brave Step maximized the resources available to survivors to obtain services and the organization is working toward both effective and efficient means to help this often-overlooked population.”

On top of the success of the clinical program prototype, Brave Step embarked on the organizations’ first formal strategic planning process and fundraising plan development, the first group therapy session and the first restorative yoga program. In addition, Brave Step founder Crystal Emerick also became the organization’s first executive director.

While Brave Step achieved a number of firsts over the course of the past year, the organization continued to build on the success of their Courageous Corner peer-led support group.

“Since June 2015, our Courageous Corner meetings have allowed survivors to find community and connection,” said Emerick. “This past year we reached 50 total individuals who’ve participated in one or more of our twice-monthly meetings. To have a survivor thank us for creating a safe space to share and find continued healing and say they slept better after participating in one of our meetings than they had in years means so much to me and everyone at Brave Step.”

As Brave Step prepares for the year to come, the organization’s leadership continues to evaluate the clinical program prototype as a stepping stone to future efforts, and plans to focus on survivor-centered collaborations, an innovative, replicable, multi-faced healing model and diversifying a sustainable funding base.

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