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LUMBERTON — Releasing one’s innermost rage by destroying everything in sight is a good thing at a new business in downtown Lumberton.

Robeson County’s first rage room, Gimme A Break, recently opened it’s doors at 412 N. Chestnut St. and is giving customers an outlet for the stress, frustration and rage that has built up inside them. Operated by partners Elizabeth Sexton and Serene Hardin, the business opened earlier this month and already has made an impact on those who have entered.

The idea to open the business came about when Sexton and Hardin were looking for something fun and unique to do in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and found a rage room.

“We were looking for something different to do and you always go to the movies or go eat dinner — the same things over and over — and that was something different,” Sexton said. “That seemed very therapeutic, and it was.”

A rage room, also known as a smash room or anger room, is a safe space where people can vent their rage by destroying objects within the room.

The idea to bring a rage room back to Robeson County came to fruition and resulted in the two-story, 5,000-square-foot business now in downtown Lumberton. With packages like Fed Up, Provoked, B.Y.O.S (Bring Your Own Stuff), Tantrum and Moody, there’s something for all ages. Parties of up to 20 people are allowed.

When customers walk into Gimme A Break, they enter a lobby area. Before the smashing begins, participants are suited up in protective gear that includes a helmet, goggles and overalls.

There’s an option to leave small children ages 3-9 in a safe room with slime, foam balls, and even an inflatable bat.

“Small children can’t really go in these smash rooms ‘cause they can get hurt. There’s just stuff for them to do while their parents are in there for 10, 20, 30 minutes — probably angry at the kids,” Sexton joked.

Farther down is a room full of breakable items like glass and ceramic bottles participants can use to throw against the wall. Right across the hall is a room with a wall full of sledge hammers and bats to smash items, mainly appliances, into unrecognizable blobs.

Graffiti covers the walls and objects bearing words like school, anxiety, stress, racism and death are available so people can hurl their frustrations at a target.

“I had no idea that people were so angry. I mean I know that people are angry around here, but I didn’t know that it is, like, to the extent that it is,” Sexton said. “The appliances we put in the room, in my mind, I thought it would last a couple of weeks, a couple of sessions. Every single session, they’re being demolished. They’re unrecognizable.”

The upstairs portion of the business is devoted to a black light paint room, for people who don’t want to smash the things, but want a more creative release.

“You can get canvases, and T-shirts and throw it (the paint) at the walls, the ceiling, each other. It doesn’t matter,” Sexton said. “That’s a good time, I feel like, for the whole family.”

Having a rage room is something that hits close to home for Sexton, who after working in law enforcement for more than a decade, and having experienced losing a loved one to suicide, understands firsthand what can be the result when someone doesn’t have a release.

Displayed in the business is a photo of Sexton’s late brother-in-law, who killed himself.

“We’ve always talked about how there has to be something. There has to be somewhere for people to go,” Sexton said. “Had there been something else for him to do, somewhere else where he could have relieved what he had on his mind, that may not have happened.”

In her line of work, she is seeing the age for criminal activity getting younger and younger.

“It’s not just the rage. It’s not just the stress. People don’t have an outlet at all,” Sexton said. “They don’t have anything to do, they don’t have anywhere to go, so they just end up on drugs or in gangs or they end up in jail or causing all kinds of trouble, so we wanted to bring something like that here for them.”

Positive feedback from the rage room already has come back from the hundred or so customers who have walked through the doors.

The first set of customers included six women, with one who had a daughter that died in a car wreck.

“One of them wrote ‘death’ on a cup and they threw it at a wall, and we kept it because it shows us the kind of things people deal with, the kind of things they brought here to let off of their chest,” Sexton said.

The family of the woman said that it has helped.

“It may not have been a lot and it doesn’t take away the grief but it gives you some form of outlet to take the pressure off,” Sexton said.

A week later, another family brought their 10-year-old boy, who had been having behavioral problems.

“They all took turns with him and they posted on our Facebook page that they could tell the different just when they got home, how much easier he was to deal with, how it felt like he released enough in himself to try and calm down,” Sexton said. “They’re talking about bringing him back every month so it doesn’t build back up to that point.”

Sexton and Hardin has been marketing their services to the Robeson County Department of Social Services and the Guardian ad Litem program to bring children through.

“These kids they have it rough,” Sexton said.

For more information on prices, visit Gimme A Break’s website or call 910-674-0073.

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