In January 2011 a business colleague introduced me to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and invited me to tour the facility. My schedule was full and I almost did not attend, but I didn’t want to disappoint my friend, so I showed up as a courtesy and planned to escape the second the tour was over.
During our visit, I realized the thousands of Hillsborough County residents that the Crisis Center touched each year. There was one section of the facility specifically built for sexual assault/rape victims. I had always assumed all rape victims were taken to the emergency room to be treated and forensic evidence was taken there. However, I learned that in Hillsborough County, victims are driven to the Crisis Center where they are treated very privately, given immediate counseling and treatment and important forensic evidence is gathered in a quiet, sensitive environment. The compassion of that approach had a great impact on me.
As I moved through the tour, I learned that the Crisis Center offers free crisis counseling by operating a crisis hotline that handles suicide prevention, suicide crisis calls and any other call that may cause a traumatic event. They provide specialized trauma counseling and therapy for children, adults and families who have experienced abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, recent loss of a loved one or any other type of emotional trauma.
Last November, 12-year-old Matthew came to the center after repeatedly telling his mom that he wanted to jump out of the car window while they were speeding down the highway. His Dad and best friend, a Hillsborough County teacher, had recently died of a heart attack. Mom was distraught, as well. She’d lost her life partner and was feeling the pressure of keeping the family together. A physician referred her, Matthew and his older sister to the Crisis Center. Today, all three see counselors and are doing amazingly well.
I recently heard a story about a woman who accidentally killed a man who ran out in front of her car unexpectedly. The trauma practically crippled her. She didn’t want to leave her house, or drive, or be social. The only thing she would do is go to work. For nearly six months a friend of hers insisted she call the Crisis Center to get help. She finally called. Through counseling she discovered she had post-traumatic stress disorder.
If she had not sought treatment, her condition would have become steadily worse, possibly crippling her daily life and leaving her to consider suicide. She was a single mom, just like me. She had a great job, just like me. She was involved in the community, just like me.
Trauma can hit anyone, at any time, regardless of race, sex, gender, income. I support the Crisis Center because of the many people they help that never thought they would need help. By supporting the Crisis Center, I’m helping those people. It just feels good.