Caring…It starts with a sound…

It could be police knocking at the door in the middle of the night…or a neighbour’s scream… footsteps squeaking in the dark…glass shattering in the back door…or the deafening silence in the baby’s crib…the trees groaning with the excessive weight swinging from feeble branches…the explosion, and that incessant ringing that follows…tires screeching, metal twisting, a hub cap rattling on the curb.
What just happened?

A victim has been created. Generally, they are fearful, confused, lacking focus –all are in pain of some sort. First responders from the Police, Fire and Paramedic Services arrive on scene to stabilize the environment and find individuals in crisis.

The next sound is on the end of a phone line, “Victim Services, how can I help you?”
A team is dispatched with a singular focus; be a lifeline for the victims in the sea of confusion surrounding them.

Another sound is the first sensation on scene, different from the cause, but hideous nevertheless. It could be the outpouring of grief or the quiet of shock. Such pain is paralyzing particularly in the dark shadow of a death!

The Crisis Responders offer a touch, a hug, a tangible empathy to make direct contact with the victim.
Iriss Schuster, a Crisis Responder with Victim Services of Brant, shared her thoughts on arriving at a scene. As she drives toward the location having just been assigned by her supervisor who got the call, she ponders, “I say a little prayer that I will be able to know how I can help this stranger. “Iriss is constantly trained, of course, and has through 12 years of experience, and hundreds of 12 hour shifts on-call, driven to tragic circumstances, often in the middle of the night. “There are a lot of people at the scene and it’s a whirlwind of activity. Through the turmoil and chaos, the victim is dazed and in pain, both physical and emotional. The confusion is intense. They hunger for information and most often readily accept an individual reaching out to them.” Although Iriss acknowledges each case is different, the need to connect is universal and her experience is critical to determine the most appropriate advice she can offer to be helpful. As a caring human being, Iriss understandably can’t help personally internalizing the trauma but steels herself by thinking, “It could be me…but not this time”. The victim sets the pace of the discussion and the Crisis Responder, with sensitivity and respect, addresses the countless questions.

Initially, some victims are hesitant to make contact about a situation because they fear retribution from the perpetrator. However, once contact is made, the system jumps forward to be their advocate.
Generally, there are two distinctive victimization scenarios. The first relates to Provincial guidelines under the title of ‘Victims of Crime’: a drunk driver; a break and enter; domestic abuse; assault; weapons offenses; and many other criminal code violations of a person. The second is not crime related but classified as “Tragic Circumstances”: suicide; fires; sudden death; drowning; and home accidents to name a few. Any of these occurrences can results in multiple victims. Entire families and indeed neighbourhoods are often victimized, some are local residents and others live outside the community. Iriss has had to relate to families whereby language and distance confounded the messaging, but she notes the visceral pain was recognizable nevertheless. The sounds were too familiar even if the words were not. She says, “Pain is pain…pain is universal…it is heart rending”.

It’s not like we wake up in the morning and think today I will be victimized. But we can be assured, especially in Brant/Brantford and Six Nations, that should a tragedy befall us we are not alone. One of the compassionate Crisis Responders, like Iriss, is on call to hold your hand and direct you to the services you need.

You don’t have to be strong. You just must know the greatest sound you will hear in your most traumatic moments will be someone saying, “I’m here, for you, from Victim Services of Brant.”

24 hours a day, 7 days a week someone is always available to help. That sounds great.

With Brant News closing does the County of Brant, (including Paris, St. George, Burford, Bishopsgate, Burtch, Cainsville, Cathcart, East Oakland, Etonia, Fairfield, Falkland, Glen Morris, Gobles, Harley, Harrisburg, Hatchley, Langford, Lockie, Maple Grove, Middleport, Mount Pleasant, Mount Vernon, New Durham, Newport, Northfield, Northfield Centre, Oakland, Onondaga, Osborne Corners, and Scotland) Six Nations reserve, New Credit Reserve, or the city of Brantford not deserve its voice to be heard and shared more broadly?

With Brant News closing.
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