Guest Commentary: There is help for victims of abuse, crime
Someone knowingly hurt you, chose to perpetrate a crime against you and victimize you. Those on the receiving end of a crime may experience new and confusing feelings and emotions such as fear, insecurity, vulnerability, humiliation, guilt, rage or despair.
Although survivors may also feel alone in the aftermath of crime, they are not.
During 2011, there were 5.8 million violent crime victimizations in the U.S., according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. The study also indicates violent victimizations increased 18 percent from 2010 to 2011. The violent crimes measured include rape, sexual assault, domestic/intimate partner violence, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault; as well as burglary, theft and personal larceny.
The response to crime victimization is individualized. The Federal Bureau of Investigations website describes responses to trauma this way: "Being a victim of a crime can be a very difficult and stressful experience. While most people are naturally resilient and over time will find ways to cope and adjust, there can be a wide range of after effects to a trauma. One person may experience many of the effects, a few, or none at all. Not everyone has the same reaction. In some people the reaction may be delayed days, weeks, or even months."
Help is available for survivors of crime. Locally, the Women's Resource Center of Northern Michigan provides free counseling and support for current and past survivors of any crime, regardless of gender. Master's level, trained and licensed therapists provide crisis counseling, individual counseling, support groups, trauma therapy, play therapy for children, advocacy, safety planning, resources and referrals.
Women's Resource Center of Northern Michigan therapists have specialized training and experience in providing supportive services to survivors of crime. For example, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy helps alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress and provides a way to process distressing memories and their lingering effects.
Therapists provide advocacy and support to assist survivors and their families through the legal process that often follows violent crimes. They also provide assistance to crime victims with how to file for crime victim compensation.
Michigan's Crime Victim Compensation Program, which is overseen by the Michigan Department of Community Health, was established to provide financial assistance to innocent persons who receive bodily injury from the commission of a crime in Michigan and who incur un-reimbursable financial losses as a result of the injury.
Fund dollars come from criminal fines, forfeited bail, penalties, and special assessments collected by U.S. Attorneys' Offices, U.S. Federal Courts, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Free counseling and support services through the Women's Resource Center are provided to any crime victim, including survivors of robbery, hate crimes, elder abuse, economic exploitation/fraud, DUI/DWI crashes, domestic abuse, sexual assault, child abuse, child sexual assault and abuse and survivors of homicide victims. This free service is also extended to past survivors of crime, such as adults who were molested as children.
Women's Center counseling services are provided at four locations in Northern Lower Michigan: 423 Porter St., Petoskey; 825 South Huron St., Suite 2, Cheboygan; 95 Livingston Boulevard, Gaylord; and 205 Grove St., Mancelona.
Anyone can become a victim of a crime. If it happens to you, know you are not alone. To learn more about free counseling and support services, call the Women's Resource Center administrative office at (231) 347-0067.