[This story was written by Ryan Melone, MHC, Therapist/Prevention Educator, St. Peter’s Crime Victim Services]
Perhaps the most alarming, unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic was the rise in intimate partner violence. Across the United States, victim assistance programs, hotlines, and domestic violence shelters reported a sharp increase in the number of calls to assist survivors of physical and other forms of domestic abuse.
The isolation of the pandemic made it much more difficult for survivors to receive support during and after these crimes, increasing their vulnerability to further violence as well as mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.
In 2020, St. Peter’s Crime Victim Services (SPCVS) began offering a series of virtual support groups to help survivors of all crimes connect with and support one another through COVID-19. These groups enabled participants to form mutual connections, offer and receive peer support, and learn new skills from the security and privacy of their own homes.
Participants in these groups expressed feeling safe, supported, and empowered in their healing journeys while engaging with other survivors. They also reported feeling less isolated and alone outside of group meetings.
To ensure continued access to this crucial community resource, SPCVS is offering six more virtual support groups, beginning on September 13, to all survivors of crime across New York state. These new groups feature topics such as understanding the impact of trauma, seeking and building safety, organizing life through journaling, and practicing mindfulness through music.
Groups will be held on a weekly basis for ten weeks, using Zoom’s video communications platform. Participation is confidential and offered at no cost to group members.
In order to participate, individuals must:
- Be a victim/survivor of crime.
- Receive additional support from SPCVS, another victim assistance program, or another mental health provider.
- Complete a brief intake with the SPCVS staff member who is co-facilitating the group.
The deadline to register for these groups is September 3, 2021. To learn how to register, and for a complete list of the groups and their descriptions, click here. We hope to see you there.
St. Peter’s Crime Victim Services offers free and confidential services to innocent survivors of crime. Available services include medical and legal advocacy, counseling and therapy, community education, and compensation assistance. For more information, please call 518-271-3410 or visit us at sphp.com/CrimeVictimServices. If you have been assaulted or urgently need to speak with someone outside of business hours, please contact our 24-hour hotline at 518-271-3257.