We must help those left hurting after homicides

Response to Aug. 13 “ABQ’s homicide milestone needs concrete plan of attack”

The editorial about homicide issues is suggesting solutions are sought to address the homicide crisis. As director of the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death, I wish to respond with suggestions from some clients in our grief support groups – the real mothers, fathers, spouses, siblings, children, grandparents, friends, co-workers, and other loved ones left behind after a killing. The ones grieving, raising children and grandchildren who were left without a parent, bearing extra financial obligations and trying to hold their families together. They offer comment and suggestions for consideration.

While crime statistics and numbers of killings are astonishing, our loved ones should not be referred to by a number. They were living souls, a person who was and is loved and who had meaning.

They ask for two specific things: information and understanding.

• Information: When we are told by law enforcement or sadly, by the media, that our loved one has been killed, we are left not knowing what to do next. We feel it would be of help to be given some sort of information sheet detailing next steps, what we should expect, what we can and can’t do, and a list of referrals, resources and contacts. RCVVD would be happy to assist in the production of such a valuable informational document. Additionally, families need to be kept informed about the status of cases. For example, periodic calls to let us know our loved one has not been forgotten or to inform us of any changes in the case, this type of communication is important and helpful to us.

• Understanding: When we call to ask questions, understand that our hearts and our minds are broken. That it takes us longer to understand the complicated process we have been thrust into. Because we are understanding the fact that law enforcement and the courts are under a terrible burden with the unusual numbers of killings, we would appreciate the same understanding to the situation we suddenly find ourselves in.

Please be mindful that our sense of order and control was taken away – we are grieving and picking up the pieces, and we don’t speak the language of the system. For example, what we hear when we call for information about our case is “we WON’T talk with you about the case.” In our RCVVD support groups we have learned that what is being said is “we CAN’T talk with you about the case.” Understanding the difference between won’t and can’t helped take away the pain in our frustrations.

The families also raised the point of underfunding for those agencies and organizations dealing with the increase in need for services. Can there be off-fiscal year agency budget re-evaluations based on need so resources and funds be allocated/reallocated in a timelier manner to meet agency, victim, and citizen’s needs?

We are available to be a resource to any agency.

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