City support group helps those suffering mental health trauma following violent crime

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – As Richmond police continue to battle a growing number of violent crime in the city, there is growing concern for those who have been severely affected by all the violence.

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

So far this year, there have been more than 75 murders in Richmond, but experts say that regardless of the crime, it is clear that the trauma that followed after the crime scene removal is real and often remedied.

Esther Marshall said, “Everyone is afraid to go places and afraid of what the day will bring.” “We saw a need because there were so many people in pain, and there was nowhere for them to go to express their grief.”

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

The program assists crime victims with completing a Victims Compensation Fund, claims applications, filing court notice and other assistance required under the Crime Victims and Witnesses Rights Act.

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

The support group meets on the first Wednesday of every month with people affected by violent crime. They work alongside many mental health professionals, educators and church groups, including the New Life Deliverance Tabernacle, to help victims of all crimes work through the mental health trauma they experienced after it occurred.

“There is a group of people who have this empathy, they have this love, and they say I can relate because it happened to them or to others. They are all ready, willing and able to extend their tentacles into the community — to be willing to help and help others,” said Reverend Robert Winfrey.

There is a victim support group in every region of the Commonwealth. More recently, however, the Richmond Support Group has been recognized by the Virginia Victims Trust as a leading example for other areas to follow.

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

If you or someone you know is traumatized by crime in the city, you will be asked to reach out to the Support Program at 804-646-7665. For more resources, click here.

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