Following an act of sexual violence, it can be very traumatic for a person to seek help at a hectic emergency room for aftercare. The sterile hospital rooms, distracted healthcare workers and general hustle and bustle can feel impersonal and scary after such a distressing event.

The SAFE Center in Tuscaloosa is a sexual violence healthcare center performing the sort of historical work being showcased across the country for Women’s History Month.

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The SAFE Center is the first healthcare facility in Tuscaloosa to offer a quiet, compassionate place for survivors to seek help. Noticing a need in the community, SAFE Center founder Amanda Fowler formed a board and appointed Brenda Maddox as the executive director.

“The fact that we have so many higher levels of education here contributes a little bit simply because freshmen in their first semester of college are the highest-risk population,” Maddox said.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, about 20% of women in the United States have been raped at some point in their lives. For men, that number is about 1 in 71.

Since its opening in 2018, the center has helped about 300 community members across the West Alabama area.

“By no means is Tuscaloosa solely looking at college-aged students," Maddox said. "We see more people from the community than we do college-aged students.”

At the SAFE Center, each patient has a minimum of two people providing care: one nurse and an advocate. The center uses state-of-the-art equipment to uphold as much of the patient’s privacy as possible.

“It’s a very beautiful environment – very relaxing, warm and welcoming,” Maddox said.

The Tuscaloosa SAFE Center was founded by women, for everyone. With the next closest safe-haven for sexual assault survivors being located in Birmingham, the SAFE Center’s profound services are providing Tuscaloosa citizens specialized care in a moment of need.

For more information, visit the SAFE Center's website here.

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