Have you lost a loved one in a crash? Have you been injured or care for someone who was? No one should have to endure the physical, emotional and spiritual trauma of traffic violence alone.

Those of us who have been impacted by traffic violence will never be untouched by it. It is important, if you have lost a loved one to this type of violence, or if you are a survivor of it, that you take the time to care of yourself. You need not endure this pain and trauma alone. DC Families for Safe Streets is a unique group, in that we have all experienced the same type of trauma and/or loss. It is a bond that we may not have wished for, but one that we can draw strength, community, and understanding from.

Person places flowers on a memorial in front of the Wilson Building.
Photo by Aimee Custis

In the days, weeks, and months after the crash, the support of family and friends is invaluable. But it is important to realize that everyone experiences and lives their shock, grief, and subsequent feelings in different ways and on different timelines. Friends may not always be able to offer the continued and nuanced support and specific attention that is required for this type of loss and trauma. It manifests in physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual ways and every day is different.

For many people, the aftermath of losing a loved one, or being seriously injured, brings a sense of confusion, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. Few people are prepared for what lies ahead, but you are not alone. In most circumstances, the initial feelings of loss and trauma occur simultaneously with dealing with the logistical and legal portions of this type of loss or injury. The sense of community and support that DC-FSS offers are specific to our unique circumstances. We cannot take away the pain, but we do hope to diminish the feelings of isolation, and lack of understanding that is felt in this moment.

Current Peer Support Services Available

DC-FSS is in the middle of growing our own support community during these times. Our aim is offer services and events that can help you find strength, community and resilience through understanding and support.

Families for Safe Streets cross-country support community meetings provide an opportunity to virtually connect with people from other FSS chapters. These meetings are held via Zoom and offer a variety of topics. Specific topics and instructions on how to RSVP for each meeting are posted on Families for Safe Streets National’s calendar.

Other DC-based resources:

  • GW Hospital Trauma Survivors Group hosts a monthly virtual support group. Contact Injury Prevention and Outreach Coordinator Helaina Roisman, LICSW at Helaina.Roisman [at] gwu-hospital.com or (917) 572-0008 for more information.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center also hosts a monthly trauma survivors group, typically on the second Wednesday of each month.
  • Wendt Center for Loss and Healing offers grief and trauma counseling (at a cost), in addition to free online resources and tip sheets to better understand grief and trauma.

Many of us seek joyful moments to gather with others interested in bicycling or walking. Check out these DC family-friendly, group rides and walks organized by others. All ages and abilities are welcome.

Other national resources:

  • The Truck Safety Coalition is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.
  • The Compassionate Friends is self-help organization offering friendship, understanding, and hope to bereaved families that have experienced the death of a child. Chapters in the Greater Washington Region include DC, Arlington, Fairfax, Prince George’s County, and Potomac, MD. The DC chapter of The Compassionate Friends meets virtually on the third Wednesday of each month.
  • Trauma Survivors Network (hosted by the American Trauma Society) helps trauma centers provide the support and services patients and their families need during their recovery from serious injury.
  • Evermore is a national nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of bereaved people and has developed resources and advocacy opportunities for bereaved families and their support networks.

Please feel free to contact us, should you have specific needs or questions and we will do our best to offer assistance and support. We are here for you.

Logistical Assistance

The practical and legal issues following a crash can be overwhelming. This is unknown territory for most of us, and the process can be harrowing and intimidating. We are not attorneys, but we are here and can share the knowledge we have gained and refer you as needed. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or need assistance. There is no question that is too morose, small, or insignificant.

What to do after a crash:

  • Families for Safe Streets National has developed a national resource guide on working with the police and the justice system, navigating the logistics of insurance and press requests, advocating for safe streets, and most of all, taking care of yourself and getting the support you need. Note: The guide is not customized for DC and is not meant to replace legal advice, but is meant to be helpful as you negotiate medical, legal, and other bureaucracies.
  • The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) has created a resource on what to do after a crash. The resource also includes a list of attorneys that are a part of their Supporting Attorney Program.

Other DC-based resources for crime victims:

  • DC Crime Victims Compensation Program provides financial assistance and reimbursement to innocent victims of violent crime and their families with crime-related expenses. Eligible violent crimes include reckless driving/hit and run.
  • DC Victim Hotline is a 24-hour phone, chat, and text-based resource and crisis line for crime victims in DC.
  • Network for Victim Recovery of DC provides free, holistic, and comprehensive advocacy, case management, and legal services to victims of all types of crime regardless of income.

Sermons for Safe Streets

Sadly, the epidemic of traffic crashes is one that unites us all. People of every faith, neighborhood, race, class, gender, age, ability and political affiliation are hit personally by this issue. In commemoration of World Day of Remembrance, Families for Safe Streets invite all faith leaders to use their pulpits, prayers and programming to remind communities that we are all part of the solution. Learn more and download the faith leader information kit.