AUSTIN (KXAN) — Desperate pleas from local survivors of violent crimes are back in the spotlight this week.

KXAN obtained a new letter from Austin’s Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice urging city leaders to fund the Austin Trauma Recovery Center. Funding was not included in the 2021-22 city budget.

The Austin chapter of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and victims of violent crimes will meet with city leaders Thursday. They will share their stories of survival and the need for the Austin Trauma Recovery Center.

One of those stories will be from Tricia Forbes. She was sexually assaulted as a teenager and twice as a young adult. Finding help and hope to heal from her trauma wasn’t easy.

“One of the ways that I coped over those years before I was able to get the help that I needed was through drugs and alcohol,” Forbes said.

Tricia Forbes (middle) poses with colleagues.  (Courtesy: Tricia Forbes)
Tricia Forbes (middle) poses with colleagues. (Courtesy: Tricia Forbes)

She has been sober for the last 13 years. She says she didn’t get access to clinical trauma-informed care until years after her assaults.

Once she did, she says it was life-changing. Her work now centers around helping other victims.

She says the Austin Trauma Recovery Center is necessary to help victims get case management, therapy and even assist with victims’ compensation processes.

“Our wish and my hope is that in Austin, everybody would have a safe place to go,” Forbes explained. “No matter what culture they’re from, no matter what language they speak, whether or not they want to go through the criminal justice system, they have somewhere they can get the kinds of services that they need to heal that.”

As homicides and violent crimes continue to rise, victim advocates say they are now seeing more people cope with things like drugs instead of services.

“In light of the pandemic, it’s probably happening at a higher rate and a higher percentage. And so we’re seeing people just get stuck,” said Terra Tucker, Texas State Director for the Alliance for Safety and Justice.

Tucker will join survivors at a town hall Thursday to continue calls for funding. She says although Austin provides services, more resources are needed.

“This is really important, because while we have a lot of great services in our community, the way it’s set up right now, kind of one size fits all, and not all, especially in communities, minority communities, they’re not as likely to access services, traditional cycles,” Tucker explained. “So we really need to provide services where they can access them and make them more culturally responsive, so that they’re more likely to participate in them.”

Tucker says the goal is to put the center in areas of high crime, but fewer community resources to address the gaps in traditional service.

Survivors and advocates say the goal of Thursday’s town hall is to discuss funding and next steps on getting a trauma recovery center in Austin. They are asking the city for $1 million. Advocates tell us there are currently a little over 30 centers in the country — none of those are in Texas.

To register for Thursday’s forum, click here.