By Bryan Nelson/ District 2 Orange County Commissioner
The Victim Service Center (VSC) of Central Florida, also previously known as the Victim Service Center of Orange County, was founded in 1999 after the Board of County Commissioners voted on using a portion of the County jail’s proceeds for recovery services to victims of crime. Since its inception, the VSC has worked to fulfill its vision of transforming the lives of victims and preventing violence in the community. The VSC aims to achieve this vision through providing services and resources to victims of sexual assault, violent crime, and other traumatic circumstances. In 2001 the Victim Service Center was incorporated as a nonprofit while but still remains under the auspices of Orange County. To date, the VSC receives funding from Orange County through the Family Services Department.
The Victim Services Center offers a number of services to those in need. Crime Victim Services include meeting with a Master-level Victim Advocate that can help in an array of areas including, navigating the legal system, assisting with injunctions and protection, applying for Victim Compensation and Sexual Battery Relocation among many others.
In 2005 the VSC became a certified rape crisis program through the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (FCASV). As a result of this certification the VSC is able to provide an array of services for sexual violence survivors. Victims can receive immediate support through telephone by getting in contact with the Sexual Assault Hotline at (407) 497-6701. Master-level Victim Advocates also help survivors with developing a safety plan, accompanying victims to forensic exams if they choose to have one, and providing education on common reactions following sexual assault. Sexual Assault Services are available for victims 12 years and older. Additionally, the VSC also offers services to adult survivors of childhood sexual assault, and services to friends and family who have been impacted by sexual violence.
Therapy and Support Service are also available for victims. This includes support groups and group therapy for men and women. The VSC is also involved in Outreach and Prevention Services which works expand knowledge of on crime and sexual violence. Presentations to schools, organizations, and community groups are provided to educate the community and increase awareness on sexual assault and rape.
In August 2016 the Victim Service Center was celebrated for their work in providing support to those impacted by the Pulse nightclub tragedy. The VSC was the first victim crisis responder following the tragic events at Pulse. Their advocateds worked endlessly to provide comfort and support for the survivors, victims’ families and friends, and many others who felt that effects of the tragedy. Furthermore, VSC worked closely with the FBI, local law enforcement, and other agencies to provide support and crisis intervention.
The VSC provides a range of volunteer opportunities. Opportunities range from working special community events to online volunteering to help spread the mission and vision of VSC. Additionally, VSC receives donations from their wish list which can be found on their website: www.victimservicecenter.org or further information on the VSC services please visit their website. For the Sexual Assault Hotline call (407) 497-6701.