Vilma Torres, Director of Safe Horizon's staff at the Bronx Family Justice Center, explains how her caring and compassionate approach helps families of homicide victims overcome the many facets of grief at the Family Justice Center.
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In the aftermath of violent crime, some victims find that navigating the legal system is both daunting and challenging. In four boroughs of New York City, Family Justice Centers (FJCs) address victims’ needs by bringing together social and legal service agencies, police, district attorneys, and other key personnel together under one roof.
Providing Guidance and Hope
Vilma Torres is Director of Safe Horizon’s staff at the Bronx FJC. She first joined Safe Horizon in 1984 helping the families of homicide victims to get through the court process. She has since become recognized nationally as a resource in the victim services field because of her devotion to the well-being of each and every client she sees, who are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and elder abuse.
“Often in the criminal justice system, people are reduced to numbers – they’re nothing but a plaintiff or a defendant,” Vilma laments. “But at the Bronx FJC, a victim of crime will be listened to in a non-judgmental, collaborative environment by a multidisciplinary team. Anyone who walks through our door will be welcomed with courtesy, respect and compassion.”
Communicating with the Community
Although many victims walk through her door seeking help, Vilma places a special importance on nurturing her relationships with clients. One mother who tragically lost her daughter in a homicide reached out to us in a letter expressing her gratitude. In it she describes Vilma as a “unique individual with extraordinary qualities of compassion, care, dedication, combined with utmost sincerity for what she does to the distraught parents who lost their hopes and dreams when they happen to lose a child.”
The mother continued to reflect on the 25-year friendship Vilma maintained and how it helped her cope,”Vilma helped make us realize that we are lucky to have had a wonderful daughter. To celebrate her life rather than mourn her loss. Through Vilma, we will see our daughter as long as we are in this world.“