Everyone is dealing with COVID 19 in their own way. We are all just trying to survive. Hand Up Network is in a unique situation in that our work was already demanding, but the pandemic has increased our work substantially while putting a damper on our ability to get resources to keep up with the demand. East Texas is full of wonderful people with a heart to help others, but the fear brought on by this virus has caused many to stay in their own cocoons. The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and unfortunately the number of cases is growing due to impact of the pandemic and we are on the front line trying to help those in need.
In 2019, we were blessed to be able to impact over 20,000 people across East Texas with our programs, teams, etc. During this time, we also became all too familiar with a major need that was not being addressed currently and began to fill that void. The number of Victims of Crime that would come through our door seeking help, mentoring, etc. was staggering. Human Trafficking, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Stalking, Elderly Abuse, Homicide, Suicide, etc. are major issues being faced across East Texas and the victims of these crimes lacked a source for long term sustainable support. Thus the birth of our Victim Services Team. The journey required to deal with, and then overcome these crimes against people is a long one. The Victim needs an immediate partner to help understand the situation they find themselves in, and a reliable sounding board that gives them the information and tools to determine how to begin to manage one of the worst moments of their life. It’s a very difficult time and one that no one should have to endure by themselves.
The journey to recovery consists of immediate comfort at the scene of the victimization, then on to receive medical care and evaluation. Once the warm handoff from the medical team occurs it’s time to seek a stable shelter to decompress and get through the initial shock. This is all in the first 48 – 72 hours! The majority of crime victims will spend the first 5-7 days just going through the shock of the victimization that has occurred. As difficult as this first week after victimization is, the road ahead can be even more of a challenge. The average sexual assault case takes up to three years just to go to trial. A victim certainly cannot just sit around and stop living during this time and this is where we were seeing many coming to us seeking help.
We are humbled to have become an island of support to these people that are Victims of serious crime. Our Victim Services Team responds alongside law enforcement when they call and are by the victim’s side from that moment on. We continue to advocate for the victim and provide the information, details, and support necessary to help them make decisions as to the journey ahead. Our Mentoring and Response teams stand at the ready to help begin the long journey to restore the lives they deserve. No longer are we going to allow Victims to drop through the cracks! We are the Hub of the Smith County Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Team in Smith County and we are working with our partners from Law Enforcement, Medical, and Judicial to ensure that these people have a chance to overcome their situations.
Covid 19 has made a significant dent in our ability to secure resources and yet the number of people we serve continues to grow at a large rate. If you are in position to help us with a monetary donation or can free up time to volunteer at some point, we really need your help
VICTIM SERVICES HOTLINE: 903-533-9721
You can DONATE Here or Text “HANDUP” to 76959
HAND UP NETWORK™ is a 501c3 non-profit based in Tyler, TX that has assembled an international team of leaders with decades of experience with a desire to come back home and bring focus to those in need in local communities. The Network offers long-term programs to people seeking a new season in life and response teams designed to address community issues and emergency response. The Network provides intentional volunteer opportunities for people wanting to provide support within their programs and opportunities to engage via Response Teams. The Hand Up Network was awarded the GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency and a National Top-Rated Nonprofit for 2020! This is the highest level of achievement possible.