Ohio will follow California as the second state to offer a network of support services to victims of violent crime, including sexual assault and human trafficking, in a partnership between hospitals and victim services agencies, reports the Columbus Dispatch. The announcement of a $2.6 million grant divided among five agencies came from Attorney General Mike DeWine. “What we’re really about is not just making sure the physical damage that’s been done to these victims is treated and dealt with,” DeWine said. “Domestic violence victims may leave hospitals physically intact but sometimes mentally broken.”
The trauma recovery centers will be staffed with advocates who provide counseling and assistance with immediate needs such as food, clothing and housing. Depending on individual circumstances, treatment will continue after the victim leaves the hospital, in the form of substance abuse treatment, specialized sexual assault or domestic violence counseling, legal advocacy and spiritual guidance. Victims in underserved, vulnerable populations such as those who are homeless, living in poverty or are chronically mentally ill or disabled, are especially in need of a support network, DeWine said. Advocates will provide transportation to and from appointments, help victims apply for the Victim of Crime Compensation Program and provide support to victims’ families. Lenore Anderson of California’s Alliance for Safety and Justice, which helped in developing Ohio’s trauma recovery network, said victims face invisible barriers. “Ohio joins a small but growing number of states who are developing new approaches to serving victims of crime and those are trauma recovery centers,” she said.