Vail Daily column: No need to face trauma alone
As he sat there staring at the wall, all he could say was that he couldn’t sleep. His shaky hand and quivering voice all indicated something more. He was easily startled and could no longer maintain focus. This local business owner was still in shock. Everything was fine, until last month, when he discovered that sleeping bag in the mountains, during his hike. The odor was unlike anything he had experienced, and the look on the face of that lifeless young man, returns every time he closes his eyes.
Her bruises were healing but deep inside, she was not. She was continually afraid, reliving the blows to her body, the fall down the stairs, the screams of her children, the look on his face. She was embarrassed; how could she tell anyone what had happened? Her parents would be horrified; her coworkers would wonder why she let it happen; but most of all, how could she ever explain it to her children? Where could she go? Would she ever feel safe again? She had never felt so alone.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office understands the fear and pain many people face under terrifying circumstances. Whether it is a robbery, domestic abuse, sexual assault, discovery of a suicide, stalking or other traumatic incident, the Sheriff’s CARE team (Compassionate Assistance, Resources, Education) is there for you. What you are experiencing is perfectly normal but it may require someone to help you process the psychological impact.
When a shocking or violent incident occurs, it often lingers beyond the initial occurrence. Our natural inclination is to move on and act as if everything is normal. This is especially true if you are the primary caregiver of the family. Often, those in charge think that any signs of emotion are a signal of weakness, yet it is in those moments that we often experience our greatest humanity. You are not alone.
Processing lingering feelings may be unsettling but if suppressed, can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Yet, many are at a loss as to where to go and what to do. If it was the result of a crime, there is the added stress of the court process. If it is domestic abuse, there is the necessity of securing safe housing for yourself and often for young children. What if you are injured and unable to work, or cannot access your money for food and other essentials? What happens then?
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A safe place to turn, for those who are suffering from a traumatic incident, is the Eagle County Sheriff’s CARE team. They are on-call 24/7 and a source of emotional support and available resources. They will provide comfort, a shoulder to lean on, as well as take you to the hospital or other safe place. They are there to guide you through the process of recovery.
Local police departments often do not have the personnel available to provide the support they so greatly desire to give, and the District Attorney’s office is designed to assist you through the trial process, but it is the Eagle County CARE team that will fill in those gaps and provide the support necessary to help reestablish your life.
Who is CARE? This remarkable team consists of two full-time members of the Sheriff’s Office, one grant sponsored part-time professional, and a dedicated group of volunteers. After an extensive vetting and training process, they will travel to the scene of an incident, in support of local police and emergency response personnel, and provide the needed assistance in helping the traumatized victim.
Volunteers include men and women from all walks of life; retirees, students, seasonal residents, community leaders, faith members, business owners, basically a representation of all of those in our community who have an interest in helping others. No experience necessary, as we provide training; just bring a big heart and the time to devote.
Whether the victim is a resident or a long or short term visitor, all are encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office … no one should be alone in trauma. Any visa or immigration issues are in no way connected to these cases and victims should not concern themselves in that regard.
No incident is identical to another. Each person has a unique reaction due to their personal experience, background, support group, family connection, belief system and physical condition. Each requires a different approach to feel supported and will need varying amounts of time before they begin to feel normal again. We are here to guide in that recovery, and connect victims to appropriate agencies.
There is an individual that truly cares about your ultimate outcome and it is achieved with the full weight of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office behind them, in support of you.
James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff.