Gabe Byars is a volunteer advocate for the Durham Crisis Response Center: Domestic and Sexual Violence Services. He was the overseer of the committee that formed this merger between the Durham and Arise Centers. As a volunteer, Byars has many responsibilities. He answers calls on the 24-hour crisis line, accompanies sexual assault survivors to the hospital, and gives general support and encouragement to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. He serves a great need.
Last year, Rape Crisis of Durham served more than 360 clients and Arise served more than 600 clients. In addition to the aforementioned work, Byars also serves as a Support Advocate. This job involves carrying a pager for a week to be a back-up support to the Primary Advocate who answers the crisis line calls.
Byars has demonstrated a unique contribution and commitment to the agency that primarily serves women. As an advocate for over a year, he has had to work with several sexual assault and/or domestic violence survivors. Initially, these women are hesitant about asking for help from a man; however, they soon realize he is committed to serve them. He does not judge them or patronize them, but he serves them with the deepest of respect. Clients he has worked with have only positive accolades for him. Most people he comes in contact with in the agency have deep personal words about his ability to help them through an extremely difficult time.
This fall, Byars will be facilitating a support group for male survivors of sexual assault and abuse. He demonstrates leadership by taking charge at the center. When he sees something that needs to be done, he stops and looks for resolution. He lives the way he serves. He does not just “talk the talk,” but he also “walks the walk.”