The help is there for crime victims

The Emmet County man accused of torturing his girlfriend was in court today for his pre-trial.

32 year-old Joshua Unrein is accused of making his girlfriend strip naked, tying her up, making her take pills, drink alcohol, and drink his urine.

Now, the judge will decide if Unrein will undergo a competency examination before the case goes any further.

The sheriff says this is one of the worst assault cases he has ever seen, and for cases like this, Emmet County has a plan in place to help the victims.

Sheriff's office volunteers, Women's Resource Center counseling, and even a new Emmet County prosecuting division are all in place to help support victims.

"It's one thing to get the perpetrators off the street, that's one of the steps, the other step is making sure you can help the victims through these traumatic events," explains Sheriff Pete Wallin of the Emmet County Sheriff's Office.

Wallin has a team of volunteers in place to be there for family members who have lost a loved one in a car accident to victims of serious crimes. They're a part of his victim services unit.

"You feel for these people, and you want to do the best you can and help them through that, and that's why we have these things in place," says Wallin.

And for more serious crimes, the help doesn't stop there. In October of last year, Emmet County received a federal grant worth $385,000 to hire a special prosecutor and coordinate programs strictly for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

"The whole package is trying to help this alleged victim get through the process that in many cases is one that they're very hesitant to be a part of" says Jim Linderman, Emmet County Prosecutor.

Hesitant, Linderman says, because of having to relive through the trauma.

"I think that's what's very hard with society is that the very victim of this crime is the person that has to hold that person accountable," says Chris Krajewski, of the Women's Resource Center of Northern Michigan.

The special prosecutor is able to streamline the process and work with the Women's Resource Center of Northern Michigan to help minimize the emotional distress.

"There could be a preliminary, could be a trial, and they have to relive the entire thing again, and you went through it once, going through it twice is even harder," explains Sheriff Wallin.

Victims are able to get free counseling and advice from organizations from the women's resource center.

"For survivors of intimate partner violence, it's much more than the criminal justice system, we can't just look at the criminal justice system to help somebody in that situation," says Krajewski.

Krajewski says one of the most important parts of helping a victim of a heinous crime heal is from community support and by speaking out when you see something that might not be right.