ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Crime numbers are up during the pandemic, and morale can get low as more and more innocent victims surface with nowhere to turn.

“Most of the time, people who are victims of crime don’t even know that services like ours exist,” says Lindsey Crusan-Muse, Director of St. Peter’s Crime Victim Services.

She says predictably, the coronavirus restrictions make it more difficult than usual to reach survivors in need of help. She and her volunteers were also extremely worried about what extended isolation can do to someone already vulnerable. That’s why the program now offers a new range of all virtual care.

“We really relied on the connections that we’ve built with other service providers, both through St. Peter’s Health partners and community locations, to help get the word out that we’re still here and the service is still exist, just albeit in a different format,” Crusan-Muse explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.

The online support groups have the option for traditional talk therapy, but Crusan-Muse says they made sure not to force all crime victims into the same box.

“Offering things like a support group that’s focused on healing through art or healing through music is one of the ways that were trying to reach folks who might have a different path,”

One anonymous participant, wishing to only go by “Frankie” calls the support program “life-changing”, saying in a full statement:

“The stories of folks that have been able to work through the trauma that they experienced and come out on the other side of that, and positive growth in themselves, that actually helps inspire others who might be earlier in their healing process to access services,” says Crusan-Muse.

Sign up is open until January 25 and will be strictly confidential. Crusan-Muse says the next 10-week program starts February 1, and reinforces there’s no shame in asking others for help.

“You know, there is hope. There is healing that’s possible, and we are here as a free resource to support them in that,” she says.

Find out more about signing up for St. Peter’s Crime Victim Services virtual support groups here. If you or anyone you know is struggling as the survivor of a crime, you can also call the 24 hour hotline at 518-271-3257.