scott miller

Crystal Emerick

scott miller
Crystal Emerick

Story: Julie Smith   Photo: Will Taylor 

Brave Step is a passion born out of my personal experience as a sexual abuse survivor,” says Crystal Emerick, founder of Brave Step.

As a young child, Emerick was sexually abused for 10 years by a close family member. At 13, she had the courage to tell her parents but they pretended it never happened. Fast forward to her teen and college years, it became apparent that the abuse had its effects on Emerick.

When she moved to Charlotte in 2002, she found a quality trauma therapist who spent the next decade helping her address and eventually overcome her abuse.

Before starting the nonprofit organization Brave Step in 2014, Emerick spent considerable time researching and engaging in conversation around the topic. What she found was surprising. One in four women and one in six men are reported survivors of sexual abuse. It became apparent to Emerick that adult care specifically needed to be addressed.

“I truly believe that to change the cycle of sexual abuse we must inspire, educate and heal adults first,” says Emerick. “My vision is to create a place for survivors to get proper help with trained specialists, find others who have walked a mile in their shoes and be inspired, and shine a light on this very important community topic.”

Brave Step offers survivor-led support groups. In addition, the organization now offers comprehensive care including individual counseling, group counseling and empowerment programs. 

The one thing Emerick has seen that inspires others is the willingness to say “me too.” The statistics prove that most people have been or know of someone who has been sexually abused or assaulted, but to step forward and share that story is one of the hardest things a person will ever do.

“Sexual abuse is pervasive in our community and until we start believing that, we can’t change the conversation nor can we protect our children,” Emerick says. “Brave Step is committed to changing the statistics for those living in or around Charlotte.”