APD Victim Services: Working together to support survivors

Written by SAFE


When you talk with the Austin Police Department Victim Services team, they can’t stop gushing about how much they adore SAFE. When you talk with the SAFE forensic nursing team, they can’t stop telling you about how great the APD Victim Services folks are.

There’s a lot of love here, which is imperative when you’re doing the work that these partners do together to support survivors of violence and abuse in the Austin area.

APD Victim Services

The Austin Police Department Victim Services team does a lot of incredible work in the Austin community: Responding to violent crime scenes, providing ongoing support to survivors and sworn police officers, assisting survivors of violent crimes with support and shelter, working with victims to understand the criminal justice system, transporting survivors to SAFE or other resources, explaining the process for crime victim compensation, and so much more.

APD Victim Services counselors respond directly to crime scenes and provide support to the victims as they talk with the police officers about what happened to them. They work side by side with police officers and investigators to support survivors as they navigate the criminal justice process.

Victim Services in action

Recently, Melanie, an Austin mother, learned that her boyfriend had been repeatedly sexually assaulting her 15-year-old daughter, Paloma, for a number of years. After another assault, Paloma told her mom about the abuse – at which point Melanie called the Austin Police Department.

They assessed the situation and sent Rebecca, an APD Victim Services counselor. Rebecca sat with Melanie while she talked with her daughter and explained why she had called the police. Along with the officer, Rebecca helped explain to both mother and daughter what to expect, and held their hands as Paloma made her devastating report to the police.

The counselor then called SAFE to let them know that she would be bringing Melanie and Paloma to Eloise House, SAFE’s clinic for post-sexual assault exams and support. After explaining the situation, SAFE had two sexual assault advocates on hand to work with the mother and daughter. They had both been traumatized.

Rebecca drove the two to SAFE’s Grove Boulevard campus. As she drove, Rebecca explained what the exam process would be like for Paloma. At SAFE, she sat with them, got them warm drinks, and then introduced them to the two SAFE advocates and the SAFE forensic nurse who would be supporting them during the exam process.

Rebecca remained with Melanie and Paloma at Eloise House for over two hours, leaving only when they were comfortable with the SAFE staff, who proceeded to provide the medical and advocacy support they needed. Once the exam was completed, Rebecca returned to take Melanie and Paloma home.

Working together

The APD Victim Services and SAFE staff work together to ensure that survivors of sexual assault feel comforted, supported, and understand the medical and criminal justice processes. These partners know that the path to healing starts in the immediate aftermath of a violent crime and they work together to ensure that survivors have what they need to start on that path. And they do so with a lot of love.