GALLIPOLIS — Gallia Commissioners approved the hire Thursday of a counselor to assist with county first responders and victims of crime in order to better help them receive treatment and guidance through traumatic situations.
The county put forward roughly $6,000, according to Commissioner Harold Montgomery, to match grant funding in accordance with the Victims of Crime Survivor Services Grant Program. The rest of the financial support comes from state funding and the county will re-apply for the grant annually while also seeking to wave the county’s match in future applications.
“Since taking office, we have partnered (with agencies) in a lot of cases involving (sexually violent crimes) involving not only juveniles but adults,” said Gallia Prosecutor Jason Holdren. “We had previously been able to obtain VOCA funding for a second full-time victim’s advocate in my office. We have referred a number of cases for trauma-based care, which assists (victims) in moving forward with their lives as best they can and it also assists us in preparing them for trial and that type of thing. They’ve (victims) made a lot of strides in the right direction. We saw a need arise and with the help of Commissioner Montgomery, (Gallia Economic Development Director) Melissa Clark, (County Admnistrator) Karen Sprague and Columbus worked together to see how we could get this funding.”
“The Gallia Commissioners, after being made aware of this valuable service to especially the youth of our community, we had conversation and cooperation with the prosecutor and different staff of ours to see how to continue this community service which is vital to our area,” said Montgomery. “Over the past couple weeks, we’ve found how to seek the funding and the position is now together and we are happy to have Amy Sisson (the new counselor) on board.”
The majority of sexually violent crime cases handled by Gallia law enforcement involve minors.
“I’m really excited to be able to provide services for Gallia victims,” said Sisson. “I’m impressed our leaders are making sure they have the services they need.”
Victim’s advocates walk victims through the criminal justice process, inform them of their rights and refer them to services. Sisson will provide counseling services.
“I’ve been in the field for about 17 years as a therapist and legal advocate,” said Sisson. “My last nine years were at Wing Haven as the director of counseling. I’m a licensed professional clinical counselor and can supervise others and certified as an advanced certified trauma practitioner. I’ve been working almost exclusively with trauma victims for several years. That includes sexual abuse, assault, domestic violence and really any kind of trauma.”
“I love seeing people move from the victim state into survivor and then into thriver,” said Sisson. “Sometimes victims think they’re stuck forever with PTSD or whatever their symptoms are, so when they realize they can heal and move on, there is nothing like that. It’s extremely humbling and fulfilling to be able to watch.”
While also working with victims, Sisson will work with county first responders to address their mental health needs and training as well.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.