In a Newly-Released Letter to Local Officials, Crime Survivors Call on City Council to Support Texas’ First Trauma Recovery Center
AUSTIN, Texas – As the Austin City Council considers how it can address racism as a public health crisis, local crime survivors made an emotional plea Thursday for public safety funds to be redirected to establish Texas’ first trauma recovery center. The center would serve victims of violence, especially those from communities most harmed by crime and violence, who are disproportionately underserved.
“By the age of 22, I’d been sexually molested and shot,” said Clarence Watson, an Austin-based member of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, which advocates for new safety priorities to stop violence and help crime victims access recovery services. “While I got help for my physical wounds, no support was available for my emotional ones. By funding a trauma recovery center, our city council would be giving survivors in crisis an opportunity to heal. The best way to disrupt the cycle of violence is by healing those most harmed by it.”
Watson is one of dozens of Austin crime survivors with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice who signed a letter to city leaders urging the City Council to allocate funding for Texas’ first trauma recovery center (TRC). Crime survivors have also released videos of themselves sharing their stories and calling on the City Council to fund a TRC — videos available here.
Across the country, 35 trauma recovery centers are already proving their value in communities – survivors who are treated at a TRC are 56% more likely to return to work and sexual assault victims receiving TRC services were nearly 70 percent more likely to file a police report than those not receiving them.
“The Alliance for Safety and Justice stands with the crime survivors calling on Austin’s leaders to fund a trauma recovery center,” said Terra Tucker, Texas State Director of the Alliance for Safety and Justice. “The city council has acknowledged racism is a public health crisis, and so is violence. We can stop these public health crises by addressing the trauma faced by too many people, especially in communities of color, who are the most harmed and the least helped. That’s why we’re asking the City Council for a $1 million dollar allocation to fund a trauma recovery center in Austin.”
On a press call Thursday, experts explained that trauma recovery centers assist crime victims with comprehensive support services for the range of challenges that arise after a tragedy. For instance, many victims experience anxiety, depression, and agoraphobia as a result of their trauma, and struggle to get out of bed, go to work, and feel safe in their home and community. Left untreated, they’re at risk of losing their job or their home, and self-medicating through drugs or alcohol — all of which can put them in the criminal justice system. TRCs offer comprehensive mental health services to support survivors on their journey, and help them heal, so they don’t end up in the criminal justice system.
TRCs also help crime victims navigate a range of processes that can be challenging following a tragedy, including filing claims for victims’ compensation, interacting with law enforcement and prosecutors, and engaging with landlords and employers. They build trust, and help stabilize and strengthen communities.
To close the gap in victims’ services, crime survivors reiterated their appeal, and urged the City Council to fund a trauma recovery center in the upcoming city budget.
“If the question is: how can the Austin City Council stop the cycle of violence that’s ravaging our communities and finally help victims heal,” said Tricia Forbes, an Austin-based crime survivor who works for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “The answer is simple: give victims the support we need. Fund a trauma recovery center here in Austin.”
ABOUT TRAUMA RECOVERY CENTERS (TRCs)
TRCs are a victim services model that provide comprehensive care to survivors of violent crime who experience physical and psychological trauma, and are unlikely to access mental health and social services. They help ensure victims and communities are able to heal from the wounds of violence, interrupting the cycle of harm that can perpetuate violence. TRCs have been expanded through the advocacy of Alliance for Safety and Justice and its flagship project, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. Over the past seven years, their advocacy has grown the model from one pilot program in a single state to 35 centers in six states – California, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey and Georgia.
Trauma Recovery Centers:
- Reach survivors of violent crime who are unlikely to access mainstream mental health or social services and support them in navigating and streamlining the process of applying for and receiving compensation.
- Provide clinical case management to address survivors’ basic needs (medical, legal, financial, housing) and coordination of care across systems.
- Utilize proven approaches to address crime survivor needs, like evidence-based psychotherapy that targets specific symptoms.
- Have a mission to respond to both victims of crimes that are underserved (such as community violence) and to people who face challenges in accessing usual care, such as low-income people and those who are young, homeless or from communities of color.
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE
The Alliance for Safety and Justice is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. It partners with leaders to advance state reform through networking, coalition building, research, education and advocacy. It also brings together diverse crime survivors to advance policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence, as part of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice – its national network of over 42,000 crime survivors. For more information, visit: https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org
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