OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Lessons Learned From Mass Violence
Krista Flannigan, Herman Millholland  -  2015/10/15
What is the most valuable lesson you both have learned throughout your journey alongside those recovering from tragedy? (Asked on behalf of students in Prof.Woods' Victimology & Victim Services course @ Becker College. Thank you.)
1.  K. Flannigan
 You are right! Self care is often overlooked, and we know from experience that is a detriment to the providers and ultimately the victims. Thank you for the reminder!
2.  Steve Siegel
 And Krista would never forget to add in that Self Care is critical! She has reminded this thick headed responder on many occassions
3.  K. Flannigan
 The toolkit is designed to serve as a victim-centered resource for a wide range of professionals. If you or someone you know is interested in developing a comprehensive victim assistance plan to ensure all victims' needs are met, read Helping Victims of Mass Violence and Terrorism: Planning, Response, Recovery, and Resources.
4.  K. Flannigan
 The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)—in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Office for Victim Assistance and Department of Justice's Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism—recently released an innovative electronic toolkit, Helping Victims of Mass Violence and Terrorism: Planning, Response, Recovery, and Resources. This multidisciplinary product provides communities with the framework, strategies, and resources to: •conduct planning and preparation before an incident occurs •mitigate the effects of future acts on victims •respond to active incidents •recover after an incident of mass violence or terrorism occurs
5.  K. Flannigan
 It is difficult to identify one valuable lesson as there are so many. However, I can say that in each and every incident I have responded to that I am reminded of the value of true collaboration - working together for mutual benefit towards a common goal; which in this case would be the provision of comprehensive and effective services for crime victims. Having relationships with other potential responding agencies and organizations prior to an incident of mass violence is essential. This is best done by coming together to create plans and protocols. OVC has released a new electronic toolkit, Helping Victims of Mass Violence and Terrorism: Planning, Response, Recovery, and Resources, designed to help states and communities prepare for and respond to these terrible events.
With your past experience in dealing with school shootings (Columbine and Sandy Hook),how would you confront the most recent shooting at the Community College in Oregon? Would you do anything differently than before (Asked on behalf of students in Prof.Woods' Victimology & Victim Services course @ Becker College. Thank you.)
1.  K. Flannigan
 We learn so much from every tragedy and we also have to recognize that each one comes with its own unique circumstances. For example, since Columbine we know more now about the long term recovery needs of victims of mass violence and how the high profile nature of them exacerbates the trauma. We have learned how to better work with the media so that victims can be more in control and empowered. We have learned the importance of planning and agency relationships.
Is there a noticeable difference in the behavior exhibited by those who have experienced mass violence vs.those who have experienced violence on a smaller scale? Any significant differences between those who experience mass shootings vs.domestic violence or rape? (Asked on behalf of students in Prof.Woods' Victimology & Victim Services course @ Becker College. Thank you.)
1.  Steve Siegel
 Victim/survivors living out their trauma under the bright light of the 24 hour news cycle presents an enormous variable/challenge for the victims and the responders.
2.  K. Flannigan
 Victims of mass violence have to deal with public scrutiny, politicization of their victimization, invasion of privacy by media and community, private grief becoming public and the re-traumatization due to the public reminders of the incident. These issues can impede a person’s ability to journey through their grief in a way that is meaningful to him/her. In addition, if there is a prosecution of a perpetrator, the above issues will re-emerge.
3.  K. Flannigan
 As mentioned above, mass violence = media attention = exacerbated trauma reactions. Victims of any violence respond to traumatic events in a multitude of ways including physical and emotional manifestations, as well as behavioral and spiritual responses. These reactions vary by individual based on the person’s past experience with trauma, their support systems and their resiliency. The sharing of a traumatic event does not mean that there is a sharing of responses. However, we have learned that there are some unique aspects to mass violence that can impact their reactions differently than other types of victimization.
Following mass violence events, there's often an uptick in financial scams and identity theft when criminals prey upon our desire to provide charity and support to victims and their families. How should victim service professionals advise the public who want to help support victims without being victimized themselves by these types of financial scams?
1.  K. Flannigan
 We also recognize that individual victims may establish their own memorial or assistance funds. We also recommend that these funds be vetted for validity and be publicized through an established “official source list” – possibly the agency/business that is collecting general donations. We would also like to refer you to the OVC electronic toolkit, Helping Victims of Mass Violence and Terrorism: Planning, Response, Recovery, and Resources. It includes some valuable information about donation management.
2.  H. Millholland
 That is a great question! Unfortunately, your statement about people taking advantage of these tragic events is all too true! One way to help mitigate this problem is to have limited donation receptacles. If possible, these agencies or businesses should be identified prior to an incident so that they can be promoted as “official” sources to receive donations. We recommend implementing a communications plan to inform the public on where to send donations and how their donations will be used, the plan should also include alerts for any suspected fraud.
Why is it so important to create and maintain partnerships in your community?
1.  H. Millholland
 This is a great question! Collaboration through your community partnerships are essential to effective planning. It is the cooperation among agencies and coordination of services which allow for the exchange of information, sharing of resources and ultimately enhancing capacity of services for the benefit of victims. Building and maintaining partnerships across sectors, disciplines on a regular and ongoing basis is critical so that when a crisis does occur, partnerships can activate and respond more effectively and cohesively. Multidisciplinary partnerships that reach across sectors allow communities to more effectively meet the unanticipated and unmet needs of victims in the aftermath of an incident.
What are the differences, if any, in responding to a mass violence incident if you know there will not be a subsequent criminal proceeding (e.g., the offender was killed).
1.  K. Flannigan
 If there is a criminal prosecution, victims benefit from continued collaborative, comprehensive support. This is most effective through the use of a “Safe Haven” or “Resiliency Center” dedicated to victims and survivors that are participating in the legal process. This Center would provide information and support surrounding the legal proceedings, assist with courtroom access and media management. I encourage you to look at the OVC electronic toolkit referenced earlier as it provides detailed information and resources on how to address those particular victim needs.
2.  K. Flannigan
 If there is not a criminal proceeding, there is significant benefit to the victims and the community to maintain a Community Resiliency Center that provides support through the first 12-18 months following the incident. As you are aware, the lack of a criminal proceeding does not alleviate the trauma.
I wrote an Atlantic article re. the lack of a national protocol for nonprofits overseeing donated tragedy relief. Does the toolkit provide a protocol for nonprofits? What kind(s) of protocol does the toolkit provide?
1.  Herman Millholl
 Nonprofits serve as an integral part of the planning process and continuum of services as collaborators when addressing donation management. I would encourage a review of the OVC Toolkit on Mass Violence which provides a host of protocols that are designed to guide agencies through the planning, response and recovery phases.
Is there a top 3 or top 5 things that you think a Victim Compensation Program should have in place before an event like this takes place? Aside from the toolkit.
1.  A. Joyce
 Thanks Dan! Great pointers!
2.  Dan Eddy
 1. Make contact and establish a relationship with your state emergency response management agency. 2. Prepare -- in the event of mass violence, will you go to the scene with staff, and how will you handle logistics? 3. Create a short-form application. 4. Consider who will be eligible -- obviously, death and physical injury cases; emotional trauma for those in the zone of danger? Those who have some connection to a school or other entity that was the scene of the attack, whether they were physically threatened? 5. What benefits does your law authorize you to pay for, and which does it not allow payment for? (Travel of families to be with victims, for example.)
What part of the response process do you see Compensation Programs in? In talks with other agencies, some view themselves as first responders. Others say they are not first responders. Your thoughts?
1.  K. Flannigan
 The use of a website dedicated to the incident’s victim resource can also provide the application and other relevant information. Also, having a representative from the Comp program present at the Family Assistance Center to provide the application and assistance is helpful.
2.  K. Flannigan
 Crime Victim Compensation programs are vital to the response to an incident of mass violence. Many programs have drafted an emergency application that is utilized only for mass violence events. This is to address immediate needs. A “full version” of the application can be sent out to victim later. From experience, we know that applications may need to be sent out multiple times due to overwhelming amount of information offered.
Overall, what aspects of recovery after mass violence particularly need to be improved? Also, does "future incidents" refer to individuals who later experience a crime? Or broadly becoming highly sensitized to subsequent US mass incidents?
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