For some, a candle in the dark


By: Jen Quam

Many people ask me “What do you do with Victim Services?’ This is never an easy answer because no two files I work on are the same, nor is the service provided to the individual or family.

In technical terms, the Robson Valley Police Based Victim Services Program is available to any man, woman or child of any age and exists to lessen the impact of trauma or tragedy, and assist in the recovery of victims and their families as a result of a crime or accident. Some aspects of my job are: providing emotional support; providing information on the justice system; safety planning with the victim; referring clients to counselling; helping the client prepare victim impact statements for court; court accompaniment and witness testifying preparation; assistance with applying for the Crime Victim Assistance Program (a program to help the victim receive financial support resulting from the crime); and liaison with Crown Counsel – just to name a few.

In actuality what I do is help a client with whatever they need. I have been the person on the other side of the door in the middle of the night standing next to a RCMP member who has to tell a family that their loved one has died. I have taken a family to the morgue and facilitate a viewing that allows them to say goodbye to their loved one. I have sat with families in silence while they process the tragedy that has just occurred in their lives. I have gone to the store and bought them water, potato chips and even cigarettes to help them cope in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy. I have accompanied victims of physical and sexual assault to the hospital for examinations.

I do whatever a family needs in those moments of hardship that can provide them with some support.

When assisting a victim of crime I am often in that person’s life for 18 months to 2 years. I provide emotional support at the time of the crime and then support them through the lengthy process of going through the Judicial System. I attend court when we have it in McBride and Valemount to keep track of their file; where it is in the justice system so I can help the victim truly understand what is happening and the next steps to be taken. I offer clarity, understanding and support wherever it is needed during this lengthy encumbered process.

People often ask me “isn’t that a really sad job?” The short answer is, yes it can be. I have cried with clients, on my drive home, and in my shower. The reality is – I love my job. Knowing that I can provide some support and comfort to families in some of the darkest moments of their lives and take care of some on the small details for them is gratifying. I have met some pretty amazing people while doing this job and I know firsthand that the human spirit is so much stronger than any one of us know. I can never explain to a client why a bad thing has happened to them or their family,
and that is hard.

But I take solace in knowing this program can help to assist them in their recovery. I receive referrals from the RCMP, Health Services, Robson Valley Support Society, schools, and individuals self-referring. As I mentioned, the program is open to anyone.

Police Based Victim Services covers the catchment areas of both the McBride and Valemount detachments. Services are available from Penny, to the Alberta Border, to Albreda. We are looking for kind, compassionate and caring people interested in becoming trained volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering, who has a valid driver’s license, reliable vehicle and who can pass an Enhanced Security Clearance please contact Jen Quam at 250-569-2266.

jen-quamJen Quam
RVSS Police Based Victim Services, Partnered with Robson Valley RCMP Funded by Ministry of Justice

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