I am writing in response to letters to the editor from Ms. Jeanie Cockayne published on November 12 and 26. First, although it has been expressed already, again I would like to relay our deepest condolences on the loss of her son, and our sympathy to the rest of her family and friends as well. Second, it is with great concern that I must respond to the comment she made regarding the lack of victims advocacy agencies in the Virgin Islands and the lack of services not extended to her from myself or other victim advocates.
Ms. Cockayne’s states in her letters, “It is unfortunate that there is no victims advocate program in the USVI — is sorely needed,” and “I called and they refused to assist us and told me we were perfectly safe.” These statements were made after indeed she was offered assistance not only from the St. John Community Crisis Center, but also from other victim advocate agencies in the territory. Due to confidentiality I will not go into details of the services she accepted or did not accept, but she is well aware of these services. It seems as though there was a misunderstanding in which she felt we were not willing to provide her with services, in fact the opposite is true and we are always open to provide services to victims (and survivors) of crime. In reality we are part of a Virgin Islands advocacy team, which is dedicated to helping individuals going through horrifying ordeals like the one Ms. Cockayne has experienced.
Erroneous public statements will not help other victims — it works contradictory to the cause and damages the mission of our agency and others like ours. The St. John Community Crisis Center has made great strides in the last year to rebuild the agency and improve the services we provide to the community.
Finally, I want to state that it does not serve the greater good to alienate victim service providers, wasting time on other agendas or lodging personal attacks on the St. John community. Anger and indeed rage are part of the grieving process, and blaming others is not productive, even though understandable. A more constructive approach would be to shift her energy to helping improve advocacy efforts. Ms. Cockayne could work within the system of victim advocacy agencies, helping to create new policy and procedures to improve victim services. Our doors are always open for this opportunity.
Director, St. John Community Crisis Center