AUSTIN (KXAN) — Local victims of violent crime and their advocates gathered Saturday evening for a healing vigil as Austin prepares to set up its first Trauma Recovery Center (TRC).
Families and local leaders met in front of City Hall as part of the 4th annual Survivors Speak Healing Vigil Day of Action. The event also marked the end of National Crime Victims Week.
Speakers included Pamela Bryant who told KXAN that she was the victim of repeated sexual assault as a child.
“No one helped me, no one,” Bryant said. “But I’m not a victim anymore; I am victorious.”
As KXAN has reported, last month, the Austin City Council passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a local TRC.
The resolution, sponsored by council members Vanessa Fuentes, Kathie Tovo and Alison Alter, directs the city manager to identify $1 million in city funding to support startup costs for the center over two years.
Austin will model the TRC after one that San Francisco created in 2001, and would offer mental health counseling, case management for victims navigating the justice system, and relocation help for those looking to rebuild their lives in a new place.
At a March meeting of the city’s Public Health Committee, Dr. Alicia Boccellari, founder of the San Francisco center, said data showed the number of rape survivors getting into mental health services increased from 6% to 71% under the TRC model.
Council Member Fuentes said the idea for an Austin center has gained steam over the last two years, adding that the efforts are especially important when it comes to reaching victims in marginalized groups, such as people experiencing homelessness, LGBTQ+ people, and people of color.
“We know that this type of model is a powerful tool in healing communities and addressing our communities that often suffer the most harm and have been left behind,” Fuentes said.
“Not everyone feels comfortable reporting crime, so we need to have places our community can go,” she added. “We need to have a more robust system in place.”