Grant supports healing for crime victims

The VOCA grant enables us to continue providing free, life-saving counseling and support groups to women who have experienced trauma, violence and abuse.

The VOCA grant enables us to continue providing free, life-saving counseling and support groups to women who have experienced trauma, violence and abuse.

The Women’s Initiative has received a two-year grant for $367,436 annually to support our efforts to provide transformative mental health services for women who have experienced trauma, violence and abuse.

These federal funds, allocated to the state of Virginia through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Victim Services Grant Program, will help local women gain freedom from debilitating mental health symptoms related to PTSD, depression and panic disorders.

Through one-on-one work with our therapists, women learn to reconnect with their deepest selves.
— Kerry Day, Director of Philanthropy

“The potential long-term effects of trauma on an individual’s physical and emotional health are well documented. That said, healing can and does happen. Through one-on-one work with our therapists, women learn to reconnect with their deepest selves, honor their resilience, foster essential social supports and develop appropriate coping skills,” said Kerry Day, Director of Philanthropy. “This VOCA grant serves as an important part of this transformation by enabling us to provide free, life-saving individual counseling and support group services to victims of crime.”

This generous grant is for the fiscal years of 2020 and 2021. The Women’s Initiative must secure a mandatory local match of $91,859.

TWI was first awarded a VOCA grant in late 2017 for an annual amount of approximately $100,000.

In announcing these new VOCA grants, Governor Ralph Northam named critical mental health treatment as one of the essential services for victims of crime. The Women’s Initiative’s mental health services regardless of ability to pay reach more than 4,000 women annually.

Over 90 percent of TWI clients are victims of crime, most commonly sexual assault and domestic violence. The prevalence of violence and abuse in women’s lives translates to greater mental health need: for example, women are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder compared to men. They also attempt suicide approximately twice as often.

It is The Women’s Initiative’s belief that women can recover and heal from traumatic experiences in their lives. We invite contributions from the community to help us reach our mandatory match to continue this important work. Donate today.

Watch a CBS19 News feature about how the VOCA grant will support the work of The Women’s Initiative here.

Hear Together: The Women's Initiative

Have you heard? The Women's Initiative is featured on WNRN's "Hear Together."

Executive Director Elizabeth Irvin, LCSW, spoke with WNRN about our affordable, accessible, effective mental health counseling services for women in our region.

"Wanting to reduce as many barriers as possible, we created walk-in clinics as a chance for any woman to come in and be seen same-day, confidentially, with a therapist, and begin the journey of healing," Irvin says.

Click here to listen to the full segment.

Understanding the impact of childhood trauma

Recommended reading: "What Do Asthma, Heart Disease and Cancer Have in Common? Maybe Childhood Trauma," from NPR.

Read this report and learn about the severity and prevalence of childhood trauma, also known as toxic stress. This public health issue affects so many in our community, including many of our clients.

That's why we are bringing greater awareness of all the ways to heal trauma—including therapy, movement, groups and education.

Trauma-informed care discussion draws 700 attendees

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The Greater Charlottesville community came together Tuesday morning to commit to addressing trauma as a major public-health issue. 

Theresa Caldwell, left, and Dr. Allison Sampson-Jackson.

Theresa Caldwell, left, and Dr. Allison Sampson-Jackson.

Dr. Allison Sampson-Jackson and Theresa Caldwell lead a conversation entitled “Trauma: How it affects you and every member of our community” at the Paramount. More than 700 people were in attendance.  

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The Women’s Initiative was a co-host of the event in partnership with Adiuvans, the Greater Charlottesville Trauma-Informed Community Network, ReadyKids, Piedmont CASA, the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition and the Early Education Task Force.

Toxic trauma is the result of prolonged or multiple exposures to adverse childhood experiences, abbreviated ACEs, such as physical, sexual and emotional abuse. A landmark study in the 1990s established that these experiences are common and can impact many aspects of physical and mental health, even leading to early death. Additional research is also connecting multigenerational trauma and historical oppression of minority communities to negative health outcomes.

Theresa Caldwell, left, and TWI Board Member Beverly Adams, PhD.

Theresa Caldwell, left, and TWI Board Member Beverly Adams, PhD.

A recent study, for example, found that 61% of mental health conditions that caused a disruption in work or other activities for 14 days or more were related to ACES.

“People are dying, going to jail, suffering...we have to be able to talk about it,” Sampson-Jackson said.

Sampson-Jackson and Caldwell also stressed that resilience—the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences—can be built and nurtured in individuals, families and communities.

The Women’s Initiative is committed to being a leader in trauma-informed care in Central Virginia. TWI Executive Director Elizabeth Irvin, LCSW, is on the steering committee of the Greater Charlottesville Trauma-Informed Community Network and is co-chair of the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition. And, as a part of our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, The Women’s Initiative is creating a comprehensive trauma program to bring greater awareness of all the ways to heal trauma—including therapy, movement, groups and education.

To learn more or become involved in the Greater Charlottesville Trauma-Informed Community Network, email Trauma@PCASA.org and include your name in the body of the email.