The Ally: October 2020 – Rene’ Davis

Rene’ Davis
Journalistics & D’Zigns


Since 1977, the Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence has provided services to those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, or homicide to all those affected. As its 40th anniversary approached, many people were still unaware of the full scope of its services–or that it offered those services to men and women.

The Center thus began a multifaceted rebranding campaign with an eye toward more explicitly portraying the inclusion and diversity which had always been part of its programming.  The first change was dropping “Women’s” from its name to become “Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence.”

The Center’s brochures, social media accounts, informational cards, and display banners were all redesigned to feature updated, gender-neutral language and photos representing the full spectrum of gender, race, religion, age, orientation, and ability.  Its website is being reimagined and redeveloped to be helpful and inviting to anyone seeking services and will be unveiled soon.  In conjunction with ongoing cultural diversity training, in-house and community surveys provide a framework for constant evaluation and improvement in sensitively and effectively serving all populations.

Like all organizations, the Center has experienced novel challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.  GCCFN has kept both of its domestic violence shelter locations open and has continued all its client services throughout the pandemic, incorporating virtual options where possible.

Historically, intimate partner violence is known to increase during times of economic hardship or emotional stress–such as after hurricanes or during the holiday season–so we can predict that the COVID crisis will increase incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault.  However, while victims are isolated at home with their abusers, it can be challenging to find a safe opportunity to escape or even reach out for help.  While national DV hotlines have experienced a 9% increase in calls compared to 2019, it may be quite some time before we can fully understand the total impact of the pandemic here on the Gulf Coast.

Over the coming months, as businesses reopen and families become less isolated, victims may find it easier to call for help–and the Center will be here to answer the call and offer support.