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Society image belies fierce advocate for Dallas-area rape victims


The following story appeared in the May 15, 2012, edition of

May 17, 2012

By Diane Jennings

Courtney Underwood-Newsome’s unwavering commitment to her longtime cause was evident even on her wedding cupcakes.

“In lieu of a gift, you can also make a donation to DARCC,” the labels printed on the favor boxes read.

That kind of resolve, as a tireless advocate for victims of sexual assault, has come to define the 29-year-old co-founder of the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center.

Those who don’t know her, though, might be tempted to regard her as a society dilettante, especially when she answers the door of her Highland Park home in sky-high heels, a dress, pearl necklace and a practiced smile.

Or after her dogs — one clad in a ruffled dress with a shiny red belt — scamper out.

But appearances can be deceiving.

Underwood-Newsome has “that little sweet girl approach,” said Charles Terrell, chairman of Safer Dallas, Better Dallas, a public safety support group. “But she’s tenacious as a bulldog.”

After almost a decade of pushing for better services for sexual assault victims, Underwood-Newsome now points proudly to the recent opening of the rape-crisis center’s second location and the establishment three years ago of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, program at Presbyterian Hospital.

Establishing those services was not easy, Underwood-Newsome said....

She didn’t tell her mother about the attack, she said, until she left home to attend Southern Methodist University....