Nonviolence Institute’s victim advocates ‘overwhelmed’ by string of violence in Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The Nonviolence Institute has been working overtime in recent weeks after a string of violence has plagued Providence.

“I see it getting worse,” said Geraldine Urena, a victim advocate for the Institute.

Urena is one of a team of eight who work on the front lines of violent crimes. Using a text message chat, members of the team dispatch themselves to hospitals or crime scenes when incidents occur.

“There’s times that a family needs a lot of emotional support, and there’s time that the family just needs their voice to be heard. There’s never a day that I think I can’t do this. There’s always those days that I’m like, I need to do this.”

Oftentimes, Urena is sitting in a hospital with grieving families. She said the gravity of the situation doesn’t always hit her right away.

“I personally don’t notice the trauma until I walk out of the hospital and I get in my car and it’s kind of like, this really just happened. A person really just got hurt. A person really just lost their life. And that’s when it hits you.”

Cedric Huntley, executive director of the Institute said no one ever thinks to ask how these violent crimes impact them.

“For us, it’s that trauma. That day-to-day, reoccurring trauma that we experience with those families. No one’s really ever asked how it impacts our staff,” said Huntley.

He used the word ‘overwhelming’ to describe the recent string of violence in Providence.

“The five last week…it’s an awful lot. I don’t know how…to put in words it is overwhelming. It’s overwhelming to see mothers and brothers and fathers and relatives just devastated, you know.”

For Urena, a Providence native, it’s personal.

“This is my neighborhood, I grew up here. So every time we respond we never know if we’re gonna know somebody. If it’s gonna be a family member or friend, someone we used to work with, so it’s really sad, it’s traumatic. I go home and I just want to hug my kids.”

The institute will continue to train in nonviolence philosophies and do its part to stop the violence.

“We want people to really understand there’s love and kindness in this world and that we value life, and we want to educate them on valuing and not getting used to the violence that’s happened that makes it seem like it’s normal, but we know it’s not.

“We have four components: console, educate, grieve, and you celebrate small victories. So that question you asked about what do we do as a community…we have to celebrate some of the victories,” said Huntley.

For more information on the Nonviolence Institute, click here.

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Categories: News, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island