Eskenazi Health is recognizing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) by showing its commitment to serving all victims of crime and those who serve crime victims and survivors. NCVRW will be observed April 18–24. This year’s theme is, emphasizing the importance of leveraging community support to help victims of crime. Out of respect to the sensitive nature of these stories, Eskenazi Health has allowed participants to remain anonymous as their request.

In acknowledgement of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Jane Smith, an Indianapolis native, decided to share her story of shame and acceptance. For decades, Smith carried the trauma of witnessing ongoing and unreported family violence. Violence triggered by drug addiction and alcoholism.

“I was fourteen. We were returning from a wedding reception, and my father was awfully drunk. My mom insisted he pull over and let her drive. He refused and shoved my mother out of the moving vehicle. I remember crying to my younger brother to get out and stay with mom.” Smith recollected.

Due to the affection she had for her father, Smith chose to ride home with him, leaving her mother and brother on the side of the road. Smith continued to elaborate on the event, describing the intensity of her father’s violence towards her mother once she returned home by taxi. Despite the quarrel being heard by neighbors, no one in her household or community reported the incident to authorities. This evening would impact Smith’s view of her father - and herself - for years to come.

“Seeing my beloved father in such a rare state was traumatizing. I couldn’t believe it.”

Addiction would continue to plague those closest to Smith. After getting married and raising a family of her own, she became aware of her son’s addiction to narcotics.  His addiction took her through a series of events that eventually led her to a joining support group. This support group would help her cope with the difficulty of loving someone that abused drugs and alcohol. While in the group, she was introduced to a sponsor that recommended she try Legacy House.

“My sponsor had also survived violent experiences. After hearing what I’d been through, she told me I should go to Eskenazi Health’s Legacy House. Being on a fixed income, cost was a concern, but she assured me the services were free.”

Legacy House Program provides free trauma-informed care to adults and children affected by violent crimes including child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, robbery and stalking. Patients can seek services by phone or walk-in appointment with no referral needed.

After speaking with her sponsor, Smith decided to contact the program by phone and has since found solace at Legacy House. The counselors have given Smith what she desired most – an ear.

“Some of the stuff I’ve been through has been shared with loved ones, but a lot of it has not. For years, I lived with shame for things I didn’t even do. Talking through that with counselors, I realized it wasn’t my fault. Legacy House helped me change my view of these situations. I’m no longer haunted by these events. I’m so grateful.”

Eskenazi Health offers multiple programs aimed at increasing awareness and decreasing the risk of violence-related injuries and conditions. Education is a key component in the prevention of violence. These programs include Eskenazi Health Center of Hope, Legacy House, Prescription for Hope and the Eskenazi Health Gender Health Program and are dedicated to caring and helping victims of crimes, including sexual assault and family violence.

Eskenazi Health reminds everyone that if you suspect that you or someone might be in danger, please seek help. For any immediate danger, please call 911. More information on NCVRW can be found at https://ovc.ojp.gov/program/national-crime-victims-rights-week/overview.

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