Help Is Available for Victims of Crime Nassau Agency Gets Behavioral Services Grant

Article excerpt

Nassau County residents who are crime victims will benefit from a new state grant for counseling.

The Florida Attorney General's Office recently awarded a Victims of Crime Act grant to Sutton Place of Nassau, a private, nonprofit agency. The $46,000 grant will provide behavioral health services and support to victims of crime.

Jerry Holland, director of professional development and training at Sutton Place, said the grant assists those touched by crime who do not have a funding source or who are not eligible for other state programs.

Holland said it is important for victims, who are having trouble coping after a crime, to seek help.

"I work with victims every day," he said. "So many people are products of domestic violence, sexual and physical assault. Some people cope well and have lots of support but others can suffer from post-traumatic stress, severe depression and excessive anxiety."

Sutton Place of Nassau has nine offices which are located in Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Hilliard and Yulee. The counseling center will open its 10th office later this year in Fernandina Beach. The location will house the agency's new Victims Service Office, which will manage the VOCA grant.

Holland said the agency serves as many as 40 to 50 crime victims each day.

"Out of all of our sites, I would say that 60 to 70 percent of our clients have been victimized in some way," he said.

Clients who are part of the new grant program will include victims of child physical and sexual abuse, robbery, assault, hate crimes, vehicle accidents resulting from alcohol or drug impairment, domestic violence, adult sexual assault, elder abuse, adults molested as children and survivors of homicide victims.

Although Sutton Place always has offered victims services, the grant will allow the agency to expand the program, Holland said.

Robin Hamlin, victim advocate for the State Attorney's Office in Nassau County, said these services are critical.

"They are crucial to our victims who may have been raised in abusive households all their life and think this behavior is normal," she said. …