AUSTIN (KXAN)— Clarence Watson fought back tears as he stood in front of a crowd during the grand opening of the Harvest Trauma Recovery Center in Austin.
Watson is a survivor of violent crime, and for years, worked to bring a trauma recovery center to the area. He said he was shot in a drive-by shooting when he was in his 20s, among other traumatic experiences.
“I’ve experienced homelessness, and I am a survivor of sexual assault as a child,” Watson said. “If I had access to these resources…the pain I experienced would have ended a long time ago.”
Harvest Trauma Recovery Center is the first of its kind in Texas, according to the City of Austin and the African American Youth Harvest Foundation (AAYHF). This center was created in partnership with multiple entities including Travis County.
Setting out to provide a holistic approach to helping survivors of violence heal, the Harvest Trauma Recovery Center is officially open in Austin as of Wednesday.
“The Harvest Trauma Recovery Center will stand as a sanctuary for survivors of violence in Austin-Travis County, where they will not only receive top quality mental health care but a full array of wraparound support including basic needs, case management, substance abuse intervention, workforce assistance and a host of social and educational programs to elevate the whole family,” AAYHF’s CEO Michael Lofton said in an Austin Public Health press release.
According to the press release, this is a solutions-oriented approach modeled after 50 other trauma recovery centers nationwide.
APH said there is evidence these centers are effective. According to its staff, clients will have access to Trauma-informed clinical case management, evidence-based individual, group and family psychotherapy, crisis intervention, legal advocacy and more.
“Survivors deserve a safe space where they can share their stories, process their experiences, and find solace among others who understand,” psychiatrist Dr. Calvin Kelly said in AAYHF’s press release. “From trauma-informed therapy and counseling to support groups, educational workshops and holistic practices, our offerings encompass a holistic approach to healing the mind, body and spirit, serving as a beacon of wellness for survivors to connect, heal and embark on their path towards recovery with a strong support network by their side.”
The goal, APH said, is to give survivors confidence and strength to shift things positively in their lives.
It’s a one-stop shop for survivors after traumatic events, meant to also be preventative, to help stop cycles of violence.
Texas is now one of just twelve states with a center like this one.
Facilities like these in other places have shown real results like:
- 70 percent of sexual assault survivors seek medical treatment through trauma centers compared to just 6 percent doing so prior.
- A 72 percent increase in mental health services access.
- 74 percent increase in improved mental health.
- 41 percent reduction in homelessness when survivors get trauma care center services.
This is all according to data from the National Alliance of Trauma Recovery Centers.
Terra Tucker, the Texas State Director of the Alliance for Safety and Justice was instrumental in the Harvest Recovery Center opening in Austin.
“It’s a lot of being relentless in not letting people off the hook like I called every member of city council…every county court member, I organized our survivors, we sent letters we made calls, I just stayed in their face,” Tucker said. “I was at every meeting, in county court, I was I was everywhere, just so that people wouldn’t forget this…our survivors deserve that.”
The center is paid for partially by the city of Austin, and partially by the county. AAYHF is running it.
The National Alliance of Trauma Recovery Centers has built-in measures that Austin’s center will use to track the effectiveness of the services.
”There’s help out here for you,” Watson said.
Here’s a list of services at Austin’s Harvest Trauma Recovery Center.