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Broward's sexual assault treatment center officially opens new home in Oakland Park

Broward County officials cut the ribbon at the newly opened Nancy J. Cotterman Center in Oakland Park on Oct. 23, 2023
Gerard Albert III
Broward County officials cut the ribbon at the newly opened Nancy J. Cotterman Center in Oakland Park on Oct. 23, 2023.

Broward County officially opened its new sexual assault treatment center this week to help survivors navigate the legal system, obtain medical care and get counseling.

The Nancy J. Cotterman Center is named after a longtime former employee of the Broward Sexual Assault Treatment center. It was housed in Fort Lauderdale until this year — although plans for a new center started in 2004. Its new home is in Oakland Park.

In attendance Monday to officially open the center was Democratic State Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, who has been open about being sexually abused as a child and founded Lauren's Kids, a group aimed at preventing child sexual abuse.

"While this is a beautiful place, we cannot rest on what we've done already," she said. "The commitment to this community, the commitment to survivors will live far beyond today."

READ MORE: Lauren Book Tells Tale Of Tragedy To Help Other Sexual Abuse Survivors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than half of women and about one in three men experience sexual violence during their lifetimes. The numbers also underestimate the magnitude of the problem because sexual assault crimes often go unreported. Many who do survive, says the CDC, may be too ashamed or afraid to tell law enforcement or their friends or family about sexual violence.

Broward's newly opened center is filled with natural light and brightly painted walls. It features a serenity room, private spaces for medical examinations and counseling as well as a children's wing.

It is the county's only Certified Sexual Assault Treatment Program, Accredited Children's Advocacy Center and Child Protection Team.

More than 50 employees provide survivors of sexual assault and child abuse with medical treatment and counseling in English, Spanish and Creole. The center also offers legal assistance. The center is open and staffed 24/7 for emergency calls and visits.

“We provide service to ages three years old and over through the entire lifespan we do that in the form of individual therapy, family therapy and group therapy," said Alexander Miranda, one of the center’s mental health counselors.

If you experienced sexual assault and need help, you can call the center at 954-761-7273. Learn more about the center's services here.

Gerard Albert III covers Broward County. He is a former WLRN intern who graduated from Florida International University. He can be reached atgalbert@wlrnnews.org
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