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By Connie Saindon, MFT Founder and Director Since-1998. Where does one go…?. When the worst has happened? When someone you love has been murdered or died in a violent way? When first responders leave? Who knows and understands?.

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By connie saindon mft founder and director since 1998 l.jpg

By Connie Saindon, MFT

Founder and Director


Where does one go l.jpg
Where does one go…?

  • When the worst has happened?

  • When someone you love has been murdered or died in a violent way?

  • When first responders leave?

  • Who knows and understands?

Violent deaths include homicide suicide drunk driving terrorist fatalities war l.jpg
Violent Deaths Include:HomicideSuicideDrunk-Driving &Terrorist FatalitiesWar

Our logo story on our website at www svlp org l.jpg
Our Logo… (story on our website at

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Why our program….?

  • We are there when others leave…

  • We are the only program in San Diego County, as well as one of the few in the Nation to provide specialized violent services after Violent Death.

  • We are trained in the kind of grief that does not go away

    with time.

  • We offer opportunities for Survivors to be with each other.

  • We can provide information on other adjunct providers and agencies.

  • Our approach includes lessons from survivors.

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Our Mission

“Your support is our mission”


“ Provide a Lifeline of Hope and Healing”


Build a community of support


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50,000 violent deaths annually


10-12 additional “co-victims”

(doesn’t count DUI, terrorist fatalities and war)

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Co-Victims Defined

The term “co-victim” was created due to a lack of recognition for the needs of survivors, and therefore were underserved.

Office of Victims of Crime Bulletin, August 1998

This department provided funds to train other cities in 1998.

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You become a member of a club you never wanted to join.

You have paid the highest dues.

You have a lifetime membership.

C. S.

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  • 111 Homicides

  • 370 Suicides (SANDAG)

  • 115 Drunk Driving Fatalities (MADD)

  • Twelve people significantly impacted = 7,152 each year

    Statistics provided by: San Diego County Sheriffs Department, 2007, San Diego Community Health Improvement Partners and MADD 2006.

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Survivor quote…

“No one understands the magnitude of this. You end up a body with no life in it.”

Co-Victim of Homicide, 1998

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Multiple Levels of Complexity

  • Murder

  • Suicide

  • DUI fatality

  • Shaken baby death

  • Gang killing

  • Terrorist fatality

  • Murder/suicide

  • No body

  • Multiple suspects/trials

  • First arrest-26 years after death

  • No suspect

  • Happened in another state

  • Killer found not guilty

  • More…

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Multiple Players and Roles

  • Detectives

  • Paramedics/EMT’s

  • Medical Examiners

  • Media

  • Victim Advocates

  • Clean up Services

  • District Attorney

  • Employers/Schools

  • Religious/Spiritual

  • Morticians

  • Cemeteries

  • Security

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Unnatural Death is Different

  • Violent

  • A Violation- a wrong doing

  • Volitional-on purpose

  • Voyeuristic- private becomes public

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Three basic Assumptions may be shattered following trauma:

  • The World is Safe

  • Life has Meaning

  • I have worth

    Shattered Assumptions by Ronnie Bulman-Janoff , 1992

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Violent Loss is Beyond Words!

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Impact of loss is incomprehensible! to be her…

The complexity and competing aspects of each loss can easily overwhelm the family, the community and service professionals who all work to regain a sense of safety,meaning and hope.

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Additional Stressors to be her…

  • Reconciling how loved one died

  • Threat(s) may continue to exist

  • Media making public what was private

  • Crime Scene Demands

  • Victim Identification

  • Medical Exam requirements

  • Legal imperatives

  • Security

  • Probate

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Second Wounds…. to be her…

  • When co-victims are blamed for not preventing what happened

  • When the legal system does not give them a role

  • Courts seem to treat criminals better than victims

  • When family members are treated and considered suspects

Wounds l.jpg
Wounds to be her…

The pain of homicide bereavement (and other violent deaths) is described as intense, unprecedented, and inescapable.

The response of the community to survivors is often so inadequate that it has been called ‘‘secondary victimization’’.

Amick-McMullan, Kilpatrick, & Veronen, 1989. 1991; Getzel & Masters,

1984; Redmond, 1989; Rynearson, 1984; Sprang, McNeil, & Wright, 1989; Spungen, 1998

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Normal reactions… to be her…

Can be:

  • Being possessed with what has happened

  • Compulsive care-giving

  • Compulsive inquiry

    SVLP founder and sister “Tiny"

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To abnormal events to be her…

It will bring you to your knees says a father whose daughter who was killed l.jpg

“It will bring you to your knees;” to be her… says a father whose daughter who was killed.

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Research is recent in its finding that violent loss bereavement can be even more painful than other losses and often involves symptoms of unremittingdepression and PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder)(Kaltman & Bonanno, 2003, Zisook, Chentsova-Dutton, & Shuchter, 1998)

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Traditional ways of dealing with grief are inadequate and put unrealistic expectations on survivors because they don’t “get over it”. Lack of predictability and controllability are central issues for the development and maintenance of PTSD.

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Clinical picture may include put unrealistic expectations on survivors because they don’t “get over it”.

PTSD; experiences of intrusive reenactment and avoidance.

Major Depression, DX not given until 2 mo. After loss.

Traumatic Grief/ Complicated Bereavement.

Victimization; rage and a sense of defilement .

Compulsive inquiry; a social and psychological need for investigation and punishment of the murderer.

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9/11 Study terrorism that increase stressors

Sample size N=2,752

11% - PTSD

37% - mild-moderate PTSD symptoms

51% - evidenced resilient outcomes with 1-0 PTSD symptoms

Problem with the study: relied on phone interviews for diagnosis

(Galea, Ahearn, Resnick et. , al. 2002)

BEGS for further research

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Veterans with PTSD are more likely to terrorism that increase stressorshave heart attacks years later

  • Medical authorities first accepted PTSD as a psychiatric condition in 1980 at the urging of Vietnam Vets

  • This new study is the first to link PTSD with health problems 10-15 years later

    Laura Kubzansky, Harvard, 2007

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Theory terrorism that increase stressors

  • Separation distress occurs as a result of the loss of a loved one as understood by attachment theory

  • Trauma Distress which relates more to how someone died

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Re-membering loved ones: Memento Box terrorism that increase stressors

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The Challenges terrorism that increase stressors

  • Help deal with the loss of your loved one and your longing for reunion.

  • Help you get past revenge and re-enactment imagery that is intrusive.

  • Foster your ability to self-soothe to help contain overwhelming emotions.

  • Navigate the many competing complexities

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Survivors Club terrorism that increase stressors

Co-victim volunteers who have become Survivors and part of the team to help others

Open to all participants who are members of a club they never wanted to be a member of

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Survivors Club terrorism that increase stressors

Activities include:

  • Candle Light vigil

  • Holiday Memorial,

  • 5K Walks/Light the Night Against Crime

  • Tree Planting/Crime Victims Oak Garden

  • Potlucks & Picnics

  • Fundraising

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Candlelight Vigil – Crime Victims Week terrorism that increase stressors

Victim Assistance Coordinating Council

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Tree planting at the Crime Victims Oak Garden terrorism that increase stressors

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Fundraiser car wash for the Homicide Support Project terrorism that increase stressors

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Crime Victims Oak Garden Markers terrorism that increase stressors

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Lavender Fields Trip terrorism that increase stressors

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Annual Holiday Memorial terrorism that increase stressors

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Tenth Anniversary, 2008 terrorism that increase stressors

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Annual River of Remembrance terrorism that increase stressors

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Inspirational terrorism that increase stressorsSpeakers such as Cherry McCoy

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UCSD Appreciation Dinner terrorism that increase stressorsVolunteers and Staff

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Community of Supporth has included… terrorism that increase stressors

  • District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis

  • Cynthia Charlebois, Director Victim/Assistance

  • Lt. Tom Bennett, SD Co. Sheriff

  • Michelle Del Conte, San Felipe Foundation

  • Joyce Knott, Cara Knott Foundation

  • Jim and Wilma Knott, Crime Victims Oak Garden

  • Victim Assistance Coordinating Council

  • Parents of Murdered Children

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Community of Support continued: terrorism that increase stressors

  • Paula Myers, MADD

  • Survivors Club Members

  • Anna Knuth, SDPD-Crisis Intervention Team

  • Wendy Maurer, Ph.D, Red Cross, Disaster Mental Health

  • Carmela Caldera

  • Yolanda Boyd

  • Eric & Lisa Hoffacker, www.CarterDesignWorks

  • Elizabeth Munroe, webmaster

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People say the darndest things… terrorism that increase stressors

Do say…

  • My regrets to you…

  • Their loved ones name

  • Just listen

  • Don’t say you know how they feel unless you too have lost someone in a violent way

    More on our website under Support

    Add yours to our list at [email protected]

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The Journey terrorism that increase stressors Ten steps to learning to live with Violent Death: Adult Survivors Individual workbook kit & accompanying Calming Exercises CD Order yours [email protected]

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Upcoming Events terrorism that increase stressors

Current Postings at


  • Website

  • Email [email protected]

  • Or Call 616-685-0005

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“Tiny’s” Role terrorism that increase stressors

December 8, 1961 at age of 17, my sister, “Tiny”, the third child of eight, was murdered.”

Connie Saindon

Iris is her symbol

Represents HOPE