Ohio Crime Survivors, Advocates Celebrate State’s National Leadership in Addressing Trauma as Safety Issue through DeWine-Led Creation & Expansion of Trauma Recovery Centers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | June 3, 2019
CONTACT: media@safeandjust.org

Ohio Crime Survivors, Advocates Celebrate State’s National Leadership in Addressing Trauma as Safety Issue through DeWine-Led Creation & Expansion of Trauma Recovery Centers

Advocates and crime victims worked with Gov. DeWine to ensure Ohio has second-highest number of centers of any state in nation to meet recovery needs of crime victims

Columbus, OH – Ohio leaders of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and Alliance for Safety and Justice celebrated the work of Governor Mike DeWine to create trauma recovery centers as an approach to advancing holistic community safety at a time when the centers are expanding in the state. They presented Governor DeWine with an award for his work to make Ohio the second state in the nation to establish a network of the centers that provide immediate support and crisis intervention to victims of traumatic violent crimes. Crime survivors and advocates consider the services offered by the centers to be critical for victims of crime to recover and ensure communities are healthy, so unaddressed trauma doesn’t perpetuate further cycles of harm.

“The voices and experiences of crime survivors are critical to public safety policymaking, and we applaud Governor DeWine for helping to make Ohio a national leader by creating trauma recovery centers,” said Aswad Thomas, Managing Director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and Shakyra Diaz, Ohio State Director of Alliance for Safety and Justice. “Unaddressed trauma is a major issue that can lead to further harm to not only crime victims but entire communities. Investing in trauma recovery is an investment in safety for Ohio. We are honored to have worked with Governor DeWine to ensure that the communities most in need of these services now receive them.”

Then-Attorney General DeWine awarded $2.6 million in grants to create five trauma recovery centers in 2017. In launching the effort, he acknowledged that they “fill a gap in connecting victims of crime to services, especially those within underserved, vulnerable populations that may face barriers in accessing or may not know how to access victim services.” The state now has eight such centers in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Springfield, and Toledo, and current Attorney General Dave Yost has expressed a commitment to continue supporting the needs of crime survivors.

Trauma recovery centers work in partnership with victim service providers and hospitals throughout the state. Trauma recovery center advocates provide patients with trauma counseling and assistance with any other immediate needs such as food, clothing, and housing. They also help victims apply for victim compensation and, if needed, arrange for victims to receive more specialized assistance, such as substance abuse treatment, sexual assault or domestic violence services, legal advocacy, or spiritual guidance. After patients are released from the hospital, trauma recovery center counselors continue to advocate on behalf of the victims to ensure that they maintain access to critical victim services. Because getting to and from counseling can often be a barrier to treatment, advocates can also arrange for any needed transportation.

Sonia Matis, an Ohio member of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice said: “As a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence, I have dedicated my life to helping women by volunteering at a rape crisis center and a women’s prison. The only difference between Ohio’s incarcerated women and myself is that I was able to get support to help me after I was assaulted. Many women do not. If I had not received support to recover, I may have engaged in problematic and risky behavior to numb the pain. Unaddressed trauma is the root cause of so much hurt and a lot crime. That is why Ohio’s expansion of trauma recovery centers is critical, particularly for underserved crime victims. These programs go a long way towards making our communities healthy and safe.”

Nationally, survivors of crime experience significant challenges to healing, with at least 8 in 10 reporting that they experience at least one symptom of trauma following an incident. One survey found that two out of every three crime victims report receiving no help following an incident. Only 8 percent of all victims of violence receive direct assistance from a victim service agency, and this already low number drops to 4 percent when the crime is unreported—which is the case for more than half of all violent crimes. Research has found that exposure to community violence and unaddressed trauma are significant risk factors for dysfunctional behavior, crime, violence, and substance abuse.

India Brown, an Ohio member of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice stated: “In 2007, my high school sweetheart and the father of my children was beaten to death. My children were ineligible for victims compensation because of their father’s prior minor drug possession conviction. In 2010 my family experienced another loss when my younger brother was shot and killed while he waited for the bus. We were left to navigate multiple agencies on our own, which was hard to do while dealing with trauma. I commended Governor DeWine for his efforts as Attorney General to remove barriers to victim compensation and his leadership in establishing trauma recovery centers in communities that need them most. Providing access to support, treatment and counseling for survivors is critical to ensuring that the next mother or sister doesn’t have to be alone and can get what she needs to heal and move forward.”

Ohio’s trauma recovery center program is modeled on California’s network of centers, launched by the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and UCSF Medical Center first as a pilot program in 2001. The San Francisco program reports that 74 percent of patients showed an improvement in overall mental health. There was also a 65 percent increase in sexual assault survivors who received follow-up treatment and a 56 percent increase in victims returning to employment. There are now over 22 trauma recovery centers across the country, including Ohio’s eight centers.

In March, hundreds of diverse crime survivors from across the state gathered in the capital for the inaugural Survivors Speak Ohio to advocate for a safety agenda that makes communities safer and meets the needs of crime victims. They were joined by elected officials and community leaders for a press conference in the Statehouse, followed by visits with legislative leaders and public officials and Attorney General Dave Yost who pledged his continued support for the Trauma Recovery Centers.
They celebrated Ohio’s innovative establishment of trauma recovery centers, advocated for drug sentencing reforms being advanced in SB 3, and urged removing barriers crime victims face in accessing victim compensation.
Alliance for Safety and Justice and Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice have been instrumental in expanding nationally-innovative trauma recovery centers in Ohio and other states.

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Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. ASJ partners with leaders and advocates to advance state reform through networking, coalition building, research, education and advocacy. For more information, visit: www.allianceforsafetyandjustice.org

Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) is a national network of over 25,000 crime survivors across the country. It brings together diverse crime survivors to advance policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence. For m