Faith Based Victim Service Program
The South Carolina Victim Assistance Network (SCVAN) received a grant to develop resources that will assist crime victims and their families in South Carolina in partnership with faith communities.
According to research Mental Health in America (1981), people in crisis are five times more likely to seek the aid of their clergy than all other mental health resources combined. Yet in an interdenominational survey of more than 600 pastors conducted by Barna Research Group in 1997, more than 1/3 said they did not know how to offer an effective ministry to victims of crime.
Why should members of the faith community respond? Faith leadership’s response to victims of traumatic events in communities has been critical to the healing of communities and individuals in providing practical, emotional, spiritual and financial support in the aftermath of violence and traumatic events.
Following a trauma, trust is shattered. The victim’s primary needs are for safety and security. Faith leaders are already trusted and can help bridge trust issues in the healing process. Faith leaders and lay persons have established relationships with members and have the advantage of immediacy and access to victims and survivors. They also have access to other resources and systems such as community agencies and resources as they are known in the community as effective helpers.
The funding will assist faith leaders identify ways they can address the needs of victims and will enable SCVAN to produce materials for faith and victim service organizations.
The goals of the SCVAN faith initiative are to:
- Increase safety and opportunities for crime victims in faith communities through more victim-focused and trauma-informed education and collaboration;
- Collaborate with faith leadership to identify, develop, and provide appropriate resources, materials and support to crime victims and communities of faith;
These goals will be accomplished with the help of a statewide volunteer Faith Advisory Leadership Team representative of SC faith and victim assistance leadership. The project will also host four regional roundtables to be held in Irmo, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston, SC. The gaps and needs brought up in the regional roundtables will provide the staff with concrete ideas and goals for successful resource development.