By Connie Saindon, MFT Founder and Director Since-1998
Where does one go…? • When the worst has happened? • When someone you love has been murdered or died in a violent way? • When first responders leave? • Who knows and understands?
Violent Deaths Include:HomicideSuicideDrunk-Driving &Terrorist FatalitiesWar
Why our program….? • We are there when others leave… • We are the only program in San Diego County, as well as one of the few in the Nation to provide specialized violent services after Violent Death. • We are trained in the kind of grief that does not go away with time. • We offer opportunities for Survivors to be with each other. • We can provide information on other adjunct providers and agencies. • Our approach includes lessons from survivors.
Our Mission “Your support is our mission” to “ Provide a Lifeline of Hope and Healing” and Build a community of support CS/02
Nationally 50,000 violent deaths annually plus 10-12 additional “co-victims” (doesn’t count DUI, terrorist fatalities and war)
Co-Victims Defined The term “co-victim” was created due to a lack of recognition for the needs of survivors, and therefore were underserved. Office of Victims of Crime Bulletin, August 1998 This department provided funds to train other cities in 1998.
You become a member of a club you never wanted to join. You have paid the highest dues. You have a lifetime membership. C. S.
THE NEED IN SAN DIEGO • 111 Homicides • 370 Suicides (SANDAG) • 115 Drunk Driving Fatalities (MADD) • Twelve people significantly impacted = 7,152 each year Statistics provided by: San Diego County Sheriffs Department, 2007, San Diego Community Health Improvement Partners and MADD 2006.
Survivor quote… “No one understands the magnitude of this. You end up a body with no life in it.” Co-Victim of Homicide, 1998
Multiple Levels of Complexity • Murder • Suicide • DUI fatality • Shaken baby death • Gang killing • Terrorist fatality • Murder/suicide • No body • Multiple suspects/trials • First arrest-26 years after death • No suspect • Happened in another state • Killer found not guilty • More…
Multiple Players and Roles • Detectives • Paramedics/EMT’s • Medical Examiners • Media • Victim Advocates • Clean up Services • District Attorney • Employers/Schools • Religious/Spiritual • Morticians • Cemeteries • Security
Unnatural Death is Different • Violent • A Violation- a wrong doing • Volitional-on purpose • Voyeuristic- private becomes public
Three basic Assumptions may be shattered following trauma: • The World is Safe • Life has Meaning • I have worth Shattered Assumptions by Ronnie Bulman-Janoff , 1992
A survivor said it well with this cartoon of what if feels to be her… Me Unplugged from LIFE
Impact of loss is incomprehensible! The complexity and competing aspects of each loss can easily overwhelm the family, the community and service professionals who all work to regain a sense of safety,meaning and hope.
Additional Stressors • Reconciling how loved one died • Threat(s) may continue to exist • Media making public what was private • Crime Scene Demands • Victim Identification • Medical Exam requirements • Legal imperatives • Security • Probate
Second Wounds…. • When co-victims are blamed for not preventing what happened • When the legal system does not give them a role • Courts seem to treat criminals better than victims • When family members are treated and considered suspects
Wounds The pain of homicide bereavement (and other violent deaths) is described as intense, unprecedented, and inescapable. The response of the community to survivors is often so inadequate that it has been called ‘‘secondary victimization’’. Amick-McMullan, Kilpatrick, & Veronen, 1989. 1991; Getzel & Masters, 1984; Redmond, 1989; Rynearson, 1984; Sprang, McNeil, & Wright, 1989; Spungen, 1998
Normal reactions… Can be: • Being possessed with what has happened • Compulsive care-giving • Compulsive inquiry SVLP founder and sister “Tiny"
“It will bring you to your knees;” says a father whose daughter who was killed.
Research is recent in its finding that violent loss bereavement can be even more painful than other losses and often involves symptoms of unremittingdepression and PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder)(Kaltman & Bonanno, 2003, Zisook, Chentsova-Dutton, & Shuchter, 1998)
Traditional ways of dealing with grief are inadequate and put unrealistic expectations on survivors because they don’t “get over it”. Lack of predictability and controllability are central issues for the development and maintenance of PTSD.
Clinical picture may include PTSD; experiences of intrusive reenactment and avoidance. Major Depression, DX not given until 2 mo. After loss. Traumatic Grief/ Complicated Bereavement. Victimization; rage and a sense of defilement . Compulsive inquiry; a social and psychological need for investigation and punishment of the murderer.
It is the malicious intent in deaths such as homicide and terrorism that increase stressors
9/11 Study Sample size N=2,752 11% - PTSD 37% - mild-moderate PTSD symptoms 51% - evidenced resilient outcomes with 1-0 PTSD symptoms Problem with the study: relied on phone interviews for diagnosis (Galea, Ahearn, Resnick et. , al. 2002) BEGS for further research
Veterans with PTSD are more likely to have heart attacks years later • Medical authorities first accepted PTSD as a psychiatric condition in 1980 at the urging of Vietnam Vets • This new study is the first to link PTSD with health problems 10-15 years later Laura Kubzansky, Harvard, 2007
Theory • Separation distress occurs as a result of the loss of a loved one as understood by attachment theory • Trauma Distress which relates more to how someone died
The Challenges • Help deal with the loss of your loved one and your longing for reunion. • Help you get past revenge and re-enactment imagery that is intrusive. • Foster your ability to self-soothe to help contain overwhelming emotions. • Navigate the many competing complexities
Survivors Club Co-victim volunteers who have become Survivors and part of the team to help others Open to all participants who are members of a club they never wanted to be a member of
Survivors Club Activities include: • Candle Light vigil • Holiday Memorial, • 5K Walks/Light the Night Against Crime • Tree Planting/Crime Victims Oak Garden • Potlucks & Picnics • Fundraising
Candlelight Vigil – Crime Victims Week Victim Assistance Coordinating Council
Community of Supporth has included… • District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis • Cynthia Charlebois, Director Victim/Assistance • Lt. Tom Bennett, SD Co. Sheriff • Michelle Del Conte, San Felipe Foundation • Joyce Knott, Cara Knott Foundation • Jim and Wilma Knott, Crime Victims Oak Garden • Victim Assistance Coordinating Council • Parents of Murdered Children
Community of Support continued: • Paula Myers, MADD • Survivors Club Members • Anna Knuth, SDPD-Crisis Intervention Team • Wendy Maurer, Ph.D, Red Cross, Disaster Mental Health • Carmela Caldera • Yolanda Boyd • Eric & Lisa Hoffacker, www.CarterDesignWorks • Elizabeth Munroe, webmaster