by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It can be very difficult for someone who has been abused by a church representative to come forward and report the abuse but, when they do, someone is there ready to help victims by addressing their needs and concerns and accompanying them with a journey toward healing.
Linda Slater-Trimble was hired on Nov. 12 as the new victim assistance coordinator within the archdiocesan office of child and youth protection. She and her husband Bill are members of Holy Family Parish in Eudora.
“The victim assistance coordinator is crucial to our care for those who have been harmed by individuals representing the church, “said Father John Riley, archdiocesan chancellor and director of the archdiocesan office of child and youth protection.
“The victim assistance coordinator accompanies a person through the processes of the investigation when an allegation is brought to us,” he said. “And the [victim assistance coordinator] assists in identifying resources for counseling, therapy and other needs.
“[That person] is also an advocate for the victim, making sure the victim’s concerns are heard and validated.”
Father Riley said he hired Slater-Trimble because he was impressed by her work with victims of sexual assault and her extensive experience in human resources.
Slater-Trimble was born and raised in the Des Moines, Iowa, area. She comes from a Catholic family and received a Catholic education from grade school up to college undergraduate studies.
In 1981, she received a bachelor of arts degree with a double major in psychology and criminal justice from St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa. In 2004, she received a master of arts degree in business leadership with an emphasis in human resources management from Upper Iowa University in Fayette.
“My career primarily was in human resources for 37 years,” she said. “I was offered a job with the company I was working for while a college student.”
In 1988, she decided to do some volunteer work at Polk County Victim Services, while also doing her full-time job. She worked in crisis intervention and facilitated a weekly support group for survivors of sexual assault. Later, she became a counselor on call for one night a week and one weekend a month.
“I found it to be very rewarding, very fulfilling work,” she said.
Nevertheless, she had to end her part-time volunteer work at Polk County because of her job’s travel requirements. When her firm moved operations from Iowa to Johnson County in 2004, she and Bill moved to DeSoto.
In August, she left full-time work in human resources and applied at the archdiocese when she learned about the position opening for a victim assistance coordinator.
What victims need is someone with whom they can build a relationship of trust — someone who will listen.
“[We must] listen with a very nonjudgmental ear and ask them what they need in terms of support, what is going to help them in their healing journey, and what services and resources can we help provide to them, “ said Slater-Trimble.
The role of the victim assistance coordinator is essential, said Father Riley.
“We are committed in this archdioceses to learning the truth to the best of our ability and promoting justice,” he said.
The process can be lengthy, so the victim assistance coordinator helps the victim understand and navigate the processes of investigation, justice and healing, said Father Riley.
“The victim assistance coordinator is also absolutely critical in helping us to assess what kind of spiritual care the victim may need,” he said.