Thunder Bay and Area Victim Services
No one ever expects to be the victim of a crime or tragic event in their lives. When something of this nature does occur, we can be left feeling confused, frightened, shocked and alone, but thankfully there is help available in our time of need. Thunder Bay and Area Victim Services is committed to compassionate and reliable victim-centered services. In pursuit of this vision, the organization exists to provide immediate victim-centered support in partnership with local emergency services. One of the ways they do this is through the program Victim Crisis Assistance & Referral Services (VCARS). This program is a community-based service providing short term emotional support and practical assistance to victims of crime and tragedy. Examples include: Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Assault, Property Crime, Robbery, Homicide, Suicide, Motor Vehicle Collisions, Multi-Casualty Occurrence, Fire, Elder Abuse, Grief and Bereavement. The VCARS program provides support to victims by meeting their immediate needs and offering information on applicable community resources. The program objective is to lessen the impact of trauma for an individual while providing non-judgmental, supportive, and knowledgeable assistance.
Thunder Bay and Area Victim Services Executive Director Annette Hodgson shares that their staff and volunteers assist many victims throughout the year but there are a few that really stand out. They initially met Laura (not her real name) at the hospital. The Thunder Bay Police Service reported that a domestic violence situation had escalated into forcible confinement, torture and rape. Laura, like most abuse victims, suffered not only physically and psychologically but also had a loss of self-confidence and sense of identity. Their short term involvement was making sure she was physically okay when meeting her at the hospital. Hodgson says “We enabled her to feel safe in her house with her broken cell phone replaced, bars on the window, and new deadbolt locks installed. Professional counseling was also provided to Laura. She understood that leaving her abuser would not magically solve all problems; it was the beginning of a journey, not the end.”
Still feeling emotionally fragile and scared as her abuser started stalking her, Laura later called the Thunder Bay and Area Victim Services 24/7 line for support. They helped her fill out her victim impact statement and apply for criminal injuries compensation. They also attended court with her when she had to testify and she insisted on sitting in the front row when her abuser was on the stand. “She courageously looked him in the eye. At this point she was visibly stronger and definitely emotionally stronger.” shares Hodgson. “She tells us that she could not have gone through what she did without Thunder Bay and Area Victim Services. She wrote the most heartfelt note thanking us for giving her a new lease on life.” Laura has since successfully found employment and has reconnected with her family.