City support group helps people with mental trauma from violent crime

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – As Richmond police continue to battle an increasing number of violent crimes in the city, there are growing concerns about those hardest hit by all the violence.

The latest example came on Thursday morning after a man was shot multiple times in broad daylight in the 2100 block of Third Avenue near Willow Road.

There have been more than 75 homicides in Richmond so far this year, but experts say no matter the crime, it’s clear the trauma that follows after the crime scene is uncovered is real and often unresolved. .

“Everyone is scared to go places and scared of what this day is going to bring,” Ester Marshall said. “We saw a need because there were so many people hurting and there was no place to go to express their grief.”

Marshall is a victim-witness specialist supervisor with the city’s Victim/Witness Support Program. The role of the program is to reduce the trauma of victimization and to encourage victims and witnesses of crime to cooperate with and participate in the criminal justice system.

The program assists victims of crime with replenishing the victims compensation fund, claims applications, provides court date notification and any other assistance required by the Victims and Witnesses Rights Act. criminal acts.

“Most people don’t even know what the witness program is until they need it; until someone dies, someone gets raped, someone gets hurt,” Marshall said. “So they know who we are.”

The support group meets on the first Wednesday of each month with those affected by violent crime. They work hand-in-hand with various mental health professionals, educators and faith groups, including the New Life Deliverance Tabernacle, to help victims of all crimes overcome the mental health trauma suffered after it happened. .

“There’s a group of people who have this compassion, who have this love, who say I can relate because it’s happened to them or others. And they are all ready, willing and able to stretch their tentacles out into the community – to be ready to help and help others,” said Pastor Robert Winfree.

There is a victim support group in every locality in the Commonwealth. Yet recently, the Richmond support group was recognized by the Virginia Victim’s Fund as an example for other communities to follow.

“We want to show trauma victims that someone really cares about them, really understands them, and wants to help them,” Marshall said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing crime-related trauma in the city, you are encouraged to contact the support program at 804-646-7665. For more resources, click HERE.

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Virginia S. Braud