More support coming to Hampton Roads for loved ones of homicide victims

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A new group is coming to Virginia Beach hoping to provide support for those impacted by homicide.

A partnership between the VB Strong Center, Sentara Health and the Virginia Victim Assistance Network (VVAN) is bringing another public homicide survivor support group to Hampton Roads.

VVAN Homicide Survivor Support Group Coordinator Dina Blythe says provide a journey to healing for friends and family impacted by homicide.

“This is not something that survivors get over,” she said. “It is something that at best, they can learn to live with and have hope again.”

Homicide survivor support groups first began statewide in 2019 through efforts from VVAN.

The VB Strong Center initially held support groups for loved ones of victims of the 2019 mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

Nearly two years later, Program Manager Rosanne Foggin says she thought opening up the support groups to the public could do some good in Virginia Beach.

“Our goal is to make sure that they know they’re not alone, they can have discussion,” she said. “They can have it in the way that they may not feel comfortable to speak with others who haven’t lost a loved one to homicide.”

The group work is based on a best-practice model called Restorative Retelling by Dr. Ted Rynearson and Connie Saindon, MFT, which provides participants with proper coping methods to find hope after tragic loss.

“There is a narrative and a horror story that plays throughout a survivor’s mind about how their loved one died,” said Blythe. “This model helps to turn that around to honoring the victim’s life.”

Organizers hope these groups and community support can help loved ones of homicide victims heal. 

“Mention their loved one’s name, tell them you’re sorry, you’re here to support them, you’re here to listen and however you can be helpful, you’re going to be there so they’re not alone,” she said.

There are virtual or in-person options in Hampton Roads for anyone interested with other groups in Chesapeake, Hampton and Newport News.

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