The learning curve of a disbeliever
Somerset County detective Jason Hunter believed that Victim Services was “a hugs and muffins” organization that believed victims of sexual abuse could do no wrong and law enforcement could do no right.
He said he was not alone in his thinking. Most of his class at the police academy felt the same. It was 1987.
Fast forward to 2013. Hunter was a detective with the Somerset County District Attorney’s Office. He decided he wanted to become a liaison between that office and Victim Services, since their paths often crossed in the criminal justice system. He joined the Victim Services board after spending time with the organization’s senior counselor, Tracey Cook.
At the beginning of their professional relationship, he made the mistake of mentioning that he thought of the nonprofit where Cook had spent about 20 years of her life as a “hugs and muffins” outfit.
“She set me straight right from the get-go,” he said with a laugh.
Hunter said that after joining the organization’s board he learned that he was wrong in his thinking on many levels.
“Now I know that Victim Services and law enforcement help each other,” he said.
As for Victim Services and the formidable Cook, he said he couldn’t imagine a more dedicated group.
He has learned that often victims of sexual abuse, especially if they were youngsters when it occurred, don’t want retribution as much as they want accountability from their abuser.
“A lot of victims have emotional issues that over time turn into mental issues as a way of dealing with the problem,” Hunter said. He is proud that the organization now has mental health therapists to help those individuals.
Hunter is now a dedicated member of the organization and its president.