The Member Spotlight profiles the work and accomplishments of National Center for Victims of Crime members.
The Member Spotlight is on . . .
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Seniors Against Stalking/Domestic Violence Support Group
National Center for Victims of Crime member since 2008
What is the mission of the Seniors Against Stalking/Domestic Violence Support Group?
Our mission is to educate group members, their families, youth, and the community on the crime of stalking and abuse. We are a free, faith-based, all volunteer group that provides a safe place for members of all ages to share experiences and accomplishments in the fight against abuse. We emphasize that anyone, regardless of age, can regain power and excel.
Tell us about your work
In addition to providing a regular and safe meeting space for the group, I distribute educational materials and speak to seniors and teens throughout the community about stalking and abuse. I participate in speaking engagements hosted by community organizations and coordinate events such as those to commemorate National Stalking Awareness Month in January and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. Additionally, I facilitate senior and youth discussion forums and community programs.
Is there an innovation in your program that can be replicated in other communities?
Annually, we host a "Mock Graduation and Prom Ceremony" that can easily be replicated to help youth and seniors respect and understand each other better. The Seniors Against Stalking Support Group, in partnership and with the support of Elizabeth Seton High School President, Sister Ellen Marie Hager, hosts this event to honor senior citizens who completed or are taking GED or vocational courses.
Many of our support group members were unable to earn their GED because of the abuse in their lives, but now can as seniors. We help organize the event, prepare honorees, register senior citizens for GED or vocational classes, and provide tutoring. Under the direction of Sister Hager, Elizabeth Seton High School students are encouraged to participate and become more aware of elder abuse in the community. Various community leaders attended the ceremony in February 2011, including Senator Victor Ramirez of Maryland; Melinda Miles, the Mayor of Mount Rainier (MD) and the Executive Director of the Family Crisis Center of Prince George's County; and local council members and delegates.
Middle and high school students are also able to earn community service hours for their work with our group. The students are able to hear the seniors' stories while earning credit and providing services to senior citizens, themselves, and the community. The two generations working together in mutual respect and support of each other is great to see. This gives many students the opportunity to interact and appreciate seniors and their community more while earning their credit hours.
What have you learned from working with crime victims?
I have learned that crime victims are just like anyone else; they want a chance to live a normal life. They just want the opportunity and resources to pursue the dreams they could not because of their victimization.
What do you think are the most pressing needs of victims of crime?
Victims of crime need to be believed when they speak about what happened to them, a place they can be safe, and compassionate caregivers to provide support and resources necessary to help them rebuild their lives.
What do you think are the most pressing needs of those who work with victims of crime?
Those who work with victims of crimes need support so they can take care of themselves. It's easy to become entrenched in this work at the expense of one's own health. Whether it's taking time off, eating better, getting counseling, or exercising, those working with victims need every opportunity to exercise self-care. Regular training on the best ways to serve victims of crime is equally important.
Why are you a National Center for Victims of Crime member?
I am a National Center for Victims of Crime member because of kindness, support, information, resources, and guidance I have received from the National Center and its Stalking Resource Center. Stalking is a crime that nearly destroyed my life and the life of my family, but the National Center empowered me and gave me the tools to start a support group to help victims. I have grown, learned so much, and increased my self-esteem because of my experience with the National Center for Victims of Crime.
Want to start a stalking support group in your community?
Download How to Start and Facilitate a Support Group for Victims of Stalking or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to request a free copy from the Stalking Resource Center.