AUBURN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) The minds behind a pilot program in Cayuga County are hoping it will help save lives. A $275,125 grant from the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, will allow the Auburn Police Department to bring a victim specialist with them to crime scenes, immediately helping victims with healing.
NewsChannel 9’s Julia LeBlanc spoke with a survivor of domestic abuse who said it’s that type of counseling that saved her life.
“On a daily basis, he would threaten to, threaten my life,” said Jacqueline Scholz, a survivor of domestic abuse.
Seven years ago, Jackie was a different person. Back then, she was in an abusive relationship with her husband for more than ten years. With the help of a victim advocate from Cayuga County, she was able to start living again.
Her daughter sparked the call to police when she asked her mom not to take a simple trip to the grocery store.
“She looked up at me and says, ‘You can’t go, mommy, what if daddy hurts us?’ And I think that was a big turning point for me and the next day I reached out for help,” Scholz said.
The help she continued to get from Cayuga Counseling Services is what she attributes to saving her life.
“When you’re in an abusive relationship, you lose so much of you, they take away, they strip you of everything, of who you are. I got that back through counseling,” Scholz said.
“It’s horrible to be the victim of any type of crime. We’ve seen all of the effects that it has after and we really want to minimize that as much as possible and as quickly as possible,” said Heather Petrus, Executive Director of Cayuga Counseling Services.
Now, for the first time, the Auburn Police Department will have a specialist helping people like Scholz, victims not only of abuse but of all crimes.
“There’s a delay in linking victims of crimes to services right after they’ve been victimized,” said Chief Shawn Butler of the Auburn Police Department. Which is why the advocate will be working right out of the police department.
They’ll go on calls with police and offer help to victims right at the scene. Then they’ll follow-through by going with them to court, getting them financial help, and making sure they start healing.
“You have the power all along to change your life. You have the power to walk away,” Scholz said.
The position for the victim specialist is still open. The Auburn Police Department and Cayuga Counseling Services are currently looking for candidates.
For more local news, follow Julia LeBlanc on Twitter @JulialeblancNC9.