Ohio has created a network for treating crime victims to help them deal with the aftermath of traumatic events.
Attorney General Mike DeWine awarded “$2.6 million in grants to create five Trauma Recovery Centers in Ohio that will provide crisis intervention to hospitalized traumatic violent crime victims,” according to a news release.
The release also said the Trauma Recovery Centers (TRCs) will each operate in partnership between five victim service providers and five hospitals throughout the state. TRC trauma counselors will provide immediate mental health support and advocacy to hospitalized patients who are the victims of traumatic violent crimes such as gunshot and stab wounds, gang violence, physical attacks, sexual assault, human trafficking, domestic violence and hate crimes.
One of the five TRCs is in Springfield. It is operated by CitiLookout and Springfield Regional Medical Center, and it was given $171,963 from the Victims of Crime Act to start its program. This center is the on cutting edge of victim services, said Stephen Massey, chief operating officer and director of Advocacy for CitiLookout Counseling Center.
“CitiLookout is a non-profit Christian counseling center. We specialize in serving crime victims, people who experienced trauma. We do all sorts of counseling,” he said.
The center also has domestic violence groups for men and women on the offender side.
“What we are trying to do is look at the fact that they have the ability and the need to change as well. So, if we are going to make our community whole again, we need to make sure we are able to hold them accountable,” he said.
They are trying to help people that have been harmed the most but helped the least, including those who have traditionally fell through the cracks of victim’s services, officials said. Those being helped are exposed to extensive clinical counseling that may last up to 16 weeks or more.
The local center also provides advocates to those who need additional assistance.
One person being helped is Ariel Jones, who said she watched her friends being murdered. Kyle Bonaparte, 21, was recently sentenced to 37 years to life for the double murder of Joshua Brown and Rayna Beal that occurred in October 2017.
“Since then, I’ve really been just getting some counseling and working on myself and feeling better,” Jones said.
It has been hard for her since the shooting, she said.
“Yeah, traumatizing but I guess you get through it, you fight through it for the better,” she added. “(I’m) trying to move forward, trying not really to forget it but maybe understand it. I still don’t get it but I’m trying to understand.”
She wanted to run from the trauma the shooting caused, but she is learning to deal with it and learn to heal from it so she can grow. She is now working with an advocate once a week who keeps her stay motivated.
“(We) help them with linkage, help them with housing, emergency services such as food, clothing. We can give them legal services ,walk beside them through their trauma when they are going through court proceedings,” Massey said.
The VOCA funds come from federal settlements, fees and fines, and the state is looking to fund more trauma centers soon.