At the entrance of the Crisis Center of Comal County is a gated door, and one must ring the bell and announce who they are before being granted access.
However, the extra security is warranted, however, because the CCCC serves people who have suffered from domestic violence and sexual assault. It’s a safe haven for victims who need to escape, regroup and get back on their feet.
The CCCC is one of many organizations that Lindsey Murray and Priscilla Drozd, crime victim liaisons for the New Braunfels Police Department, refer the victims to.
This week is Crime Victim’s Rights Week, which aims to a shine a light on victimization and the effects on the people involved, as well as to inform the community about the policies, laws and programs available to them.
According to Victim Support Services, the observance began in 1981 and is celebrated yearly in April, which is also Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The type of victim varies. Murray said she and Drozd help and support victims of crimes against persons.
“There’s a big difference between persons and financial or property crimes,” Murray said. “There has to be a person involved that was either injured or been a secondary victim to the crime.”
Crimes against persons include rape, murder, assault and battery — a person who causes or threatens bodily harm — whereas financial and property crimes are concerned with breaking and entering, or identity theft.
Within 24 to 48 hours after the incident occurred, the Murray and Drozd contact the victim.
“That’s our goal, whether by phone, letter, e-mail, text, going out on scene or going to their home and meeting them,” Murray said. “Then, we’re a referral hub.”
By that, she means that knowledge is power. They informed the victim about the criminal justice system, so they can have the knowledge to move forward and understand what to expect in the future. In addition, they answer questions such as which the detective is working on their case, ask if they need counseling services, provide resources to get a protective order, or explain the difference between a felony and misdemeanor.
They also do danger assessments in-office, refer victims to shelter services and help them with their Texas crime victims’ compensation application, which can help victims cover crime-related costs such as counseling, medical treatment and loss of income.
The compensation is available to victims of crimes such as elder abuse, kidnapping, stalking, homicide and human trafficking. The person claiming must apply within three years of the incident, and must both report the crime and cooperate with the investigation.
“I would say were kind of an umbrella and we just funnel out from there,” Murray said, regarding the array of duties she and Drozd perform. “We base it on our victim’s needs and we kind of show them where they need to go.”
Brittany Kruger is the shelter director for the Crisis Center of Comal County. She said that everyone’s situation is different.
“Their paths are different, and even the beginning and the end look different for every person,” Kruger said. “It could be a single mom with three kids and no job or money — it’s going to take her longer to establish herself than maybe somebody who comes in without kiddos, has money in the bank and is working as a nurse.”
The CCCC, which started out as a women’s shelter in 1986, offers services such as counseling, shelter, victim advocacy and case management to victims of sexual or domestic abuse.
Like NBPD’s victim liaisons, they help with protective orders and provide legal resources.
They also help with sexual assault examinations. Additionally, the CCCC handles crisis response for sexual assaults in Comal County, Kruger said, explaining the police or hospital will call them at all times of day or night.
The CCCC’s crisis response team answers the call and ensures the victim knows they can get a Sexual Assault Nurse Examination (SANE), but they do not have to, and they can choose to report it or not.
“We go through that whole process with them,” Kruger said. “We sit there and we just hold their hands and we’re just there for them.”
Murray said no report is necessary in order to speak with someone from the CCCC. They are able to answer questions or explain the process.
“They don’t have to have a police report with the New Braunfels Police Department to speak with us, even if they have a police report in another jurisdiction,” Murray said. “If they have questions or they want to find information or to talk to someone to that department, we will service them, as well.”
Kruger said it’s important to always put the victim first — it’s always about them no matter what decision they choose to make.
“A big part of the job is just making sure everybody in the situation knows also that it is up to the survivor. It’s not up to us and it’s not up to you. It’s not yp to anybody but the survivor,” Kruger said. “We really advocate for them whether we’re at the hospital, the police department, anywhere we are. We’re kind of like mama bears.”