Hope, Help, and Healing
Lupe,* a 19-year-old college student, was returning from a trip to Mexico when her family was kidnaped by a gang near the United States–Mexico border and held for 3 days. During that time, Lupe was repeatedly raped in front of her family by multiple perpetrators. When her father tried to stop the assault, the perpetrators pointed a gun at one of her younger brothers and threatened to kill him.
Upon returning to their San Antonio home, the family was referred to the Alamo Area Rape Crisis Center (AARCC) for victim services, including counseling. With funds administered by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), AARCC is able to provide counseling and other services to victims of sexual assault free of charge.
"People think that it is sad to work in this field, but it isn’t," explains M. Lynn Blanco, AARCC President and CEO, regarding the role of the Center. "Without this Center, there is no hope, help, or healing."
For Lupe and her family, hope came in the form of counseling sessions during which they all cried together and admitted their feelings of guilt, says Miriam M. Elizondo, MS, LPC–S, NCC, and Executive Vice President of Client Services for AARCC. "For her father to cry and apologize for not helping her, and for her to respond and say that she knew that he did what he had to do to keep them alive, just to have that open conversation–that’s how they started to move forward."
Lupe and her family still deal with the aftereffects of their trauma every day, but OVC funds that support resources like AARCC help them and countless other crime victims begin to see themselves not as victims but as survivors.
Learn more about the services and programs the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) supports in the 2009 Annual Report. The report features profiles of people like Lupe whose lives were directly affected by criminal and juvenile justice and victim service programs that rely on OJP funding to provide the services that crime victims need.
*Names have been changed.