Regional service helps victims of crime and tragedy

RCMP Victim Services helped 224 clients through life altering events last year such as assault, sudden deaths, suicides and more.

There’s a regional program that’s been quietly serving Greater Trail residents behind-the-scenes for well over 20 years.

With one full time position, a casual worker, and a dedicated volunteer base, last year the RCMP Victim Services assisted 224 clients through life altering events such as assault, ranging from domestic to sexual, sudden deaths, suicides, motor vehicle fatalities and murder.

Victim Services is often a first responder to a crime scene or tragic event, because immediate fallout for the victim, witnesses and family members can be chaotic, disorganized and emotionally charged.

“There’s a variety of ways we receive referrals but the primary way is through the police,” says Corrie Goldsbury, the program’s manager. “A member will ask someone, who’s just experienced probably the most horrible moment in their life, if they would like a call to victim services.”

Goldsbury said people who have been victimized or suffered a loss, often don’t understand how a call to victim services can help with immediate concerns like next of kin notifications and emergency support as well as with ongoing services for court tracking, safety planning and referrals to funded and private therapy.

“They aren’t capable in that moment of understanding what it means,” she said. “They can refuse, but we will still make a proactive follow up call the next day to make sure they don’t need anything.”

The service provides emotional support, not counselling. Sometimes help may be only one phone call, though other situations may include periodic contact for several years following a major event.

“What we do, could be something like a one-time call with a referral to a therapist,” said Goldsbury. “Others, we speak to on a regular basis for years because they grow to like the follow up or continuous calls to check in. It becomes part of something that makes them feel better, knowing that we are thinking about them.”

Another way victim services can help is through court support, such as accompanying the client to hearings, assisting with victim impact statements and completing crime victim assistance forms.

“If family members want us to call them each and every time there’s been a court date and an outcome, we do that,” added Goldsbury. “We phone and update them with the next court date and explain what it means.”

Because her office is in the Trail RCMP detachment, Goldsbury offers another valuable service – the ability to seek information if an attending officer is off duty.

“The members are shift workers and may be away from their desks for a week,” she said. “I always tell my clients if you have any questions at all, and the member is off, you don’t have to wait to get hold of them – call me.

“When a person is going through a traumatic event, nothing is worse than waiting until the member is on shift. There are so many intense questions and you need to know the answers. I’ll find them out for you.”

According to last year’s statistics, the program had 11 brief service calls and opened 213 files including 20 murder-related, 33 sudden deaths, 35 MVAs, 38 assaults, 24 suicides and 81 files varying from fraud, property crime, threats and robbery.

“When you look at the files broken down, it gives people an idea how huge our reach is,” said Goldsbury. “There is not just one person in the family that’s being helped. Children, wives, brothers and many others become active clients after a tragedy. Those types of events impact many different people and a lot of clients can come from one specific event.”

There is one thread that runs through each heartbreaking incident – there is no script for what to say when someone has been victimized or suffering through loss. Sometimes you just have to be, there is nothing you can say.

“That’s the most important thing to know,” said Goldsbury. “Our whole goal is about relationship building in the community and to let people know that we are here.”

For information, contact the Trail RCMP Victim Services Program at 368.2184 or the 24/7 VictimLink line at 1.800.563.0808.