Department of Justice Recognizes Indianapolis Health Center with Innovation in Victim Services Award
WASHINGTON – The Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, presented the LGBTQ+ Victim Advocacy Initiative at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, Indiana, with the Professional Innovation in Victim Services Award. This award category recognizes a program, organization or individual who has helped to expand the reach of victims’ rights and services. Through this initiative, transgender and nonbinary victims of violence have the opportunity to connect with a culturally sensitive, medically and socially competent staff member at any time.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community, and transgender individuals in particular, suffer disproportionate rates of violence and abuse, and often face a second victimization in the form of bias and discrimination,” said Amy L. Solomon, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of OJP. “Eskenazi Health provides vital services to survivors who are both traumatized and marginalized, offering a safe, caring and welcoming environment that honors the humanity and dignity of every survivor.”
In 2016, Eskenazi Health established the first-of-its-kind Gender Health Program in Indiana, providing primary and specialty care services for older adolescent and adult transgender patients. The program is staffed by a multidisciplinary team of providers that help patients access gender-affirming hormone therapy, gender-affirming surgery, speech therapy, legal assistance, case management and many other essential services. Because many of the patients who come to the center have histories of assault or victimization, the staff screens for these crimes and refers patients to victim advocate services.
Eskenazi’s team consists of two victim advocates—one with a license in social work, the other with a nursing degree, as well as a nurse practitioner. Their innovative approach to delivering services for LGBTQ+ patients through dedicated and specially trained advocates has improved both short- and long-term outcomes for these victims of violence. They began working with clients in early 2021, and in less than a year they have provided nearly 200 services to more than 131 transgender and non-binary victims of violence, abuse and neglect.
“No crime victim should ever have to walk the path to healing and recovery alone, and by no means should any survivor ever feel unworthy of support,” said Kristina Rose, Director of OVC. “The outstanding staff of Eskenazi Health provide the highest quality of care and service, giving victims the expert treatment they need and deserve while offering both encouragement and compassion. We are so proud to support them in their amazing work and so pleased to honor them with this award.”
Every April, OVC leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. President Ronald W. Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, calling for greater sensitivity to the rights and needs of victims. This year’s observance is taking place April 24-30, and features the theme, “Rights, Access, Equity, for All Victims.”
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.