A few years ago, my brother came to visit me from New Orleans. We took a day trip to San Francisco. We spent our day seeing the sights, shopping with the local merchants, and sampling all of the delicious food. The day was picture-perfect. But on our way home, a bank of fog rolled through the Bay. This was not a light fog but a thick smothering fog that made seeing the road virtually impossible. I liken it to trying to see through my Nana’s hand-knitted wool sweater. I found that I was unable to see more than a foot in front of my car, going slower and slower until I was at a paralyzing 2mph. Worse than that, I had no idea where I was. I couldn’t see the surroundings outside of my window, there were no visible landmarks to help me gauge my course and navigate to a safe place.
Putting your life back together after being the victim of a crime can be like navigating through a fog. One minute your life has a charted course, a pre–determined destination with picture-perfect weather. The next moment you have no idea where you are, you can’t see your next turn and you are stopped cold in your tracks. National Crime Victim’s Rights Awareness Week acknowledges the effect victimization has on individuals, families, friends and the community. This national campaign takes place April 18–24, 2021 and focuses on connecting victims of crimes with resources to help them navigate out of the fog. This year’s theme is “Support Victims. Build Trust. Engage Communities.” which emphasizes the importance of leveraging community support to help victims of crime.
Locally, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Victim Services Division serves individuals who have been affected by crimes ranging from sexual and physical assault, robbery, drunk driving, homicide, and many other offenses in between. Advocates provide help navigating the legal system, provide court accompaniment, and in some cases, help with California Victim Compensation (CAL VCB). VCB is available to those individuals who have been physically and mentally affected as a result of the crime. The program may help with funeral costs, medical bills, relocation, and mental health services.
Together with the Victim Services Division, the Family Justice Center or FJC provides free and confidential support to victims of Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Elder Abuse, Sexual Assault, Stalking, Human Trafficking, and Homeless Victims of Crime. Through a team of co-located community providers, we offer survivors of crime safety planning, navigation of the criminal and civil legal systems, support groups, restraining orders, counseling, and a path out of violence. Professionals from several local non-profits, government agencies, law enforcement, and prosecution work side by side every day to collaboratively address the needs of survivors and their children. The FJC also provides immigration support for survivors of domestic violence and other crimes, employment and training assistance, and various holistic services like yoga, art therapy, massage therapy, and reiki, helping survivors overcome their trauma, reclaim their futures, and restore hope. At the FJC, survivors are trusted to be the expert on their situation, with choice encouraged each step of the way.
Even a 2MPH crawl is moving you in a forward direction and you are making progress through the fog.
If today is the day you decide to move through the fog, you don’t have to do it alone. Help is here for you. Please call The Family Justice Center (FJC) at (707) 565-8255 or the Victims Services Division at (707) 565-8250.
— Marsha Lucien, Executive Director, Family Justice Center
— Tatiana Lopez, Victim Services Director, Sonoma County District Attorney’s Victim Services Division