Employees at the Tulsa County Victim Witness Center in downtown have kept working during the pandemic, standing beside victims of heinous crimes, as they go through the court process.
If making your way through the justice system feels like surviving a hurricane, the Victim Witness Center is the eye of that hurricane.
"Nobody wants to be here so my goal in running this center has always been let's make it as positive as we can, where they not only get closure with their case but maybe get closure with what happened to them and find some of that strength that they didn't even know that they had,” said Victim Witness Center Director Heather Prater.
The details matter here. You won't find crime shows, or newscasts playing on TV, just the Food Network or HGTV. There are snacks you can grab, no questions asked. Magazines that have nothing to do with serious topics and everything to do with fashion, celebrities, or wellness.
"We are where they come to meet with their prosecutor, we escort them to court, we sit with them while they talk about their trauma to prosecutors to prepare for court," said Prater.
Employees in this office don't have easy jobs. They work with victims who have experienced trauma most of us couldn't imagine.
"We deliver a lot of bad news, but we are also a consistency. We have very little turnover here in the witness center so a lot of times we are the only consistent part of the entire process," said Prater. "Helping them understand like, this happened to you, but you have got this."
These advocates show up every day to work in the middle of a pandemic- because this work, matters to them. At just 23 years old, Meghan Darst is one of those people. Darst is a Victim Advocate for Crimes Against Children.
"I listen to children say things that no one should ever have to say," said Darst. "I can't undo what has already been done but you can help them."
There is an emotional toll with this job, but Prater said they find ways to cope outside of work by doing things they love and then show up to the office the next day to do it all over again.
"I really feel like this is where I am meant to be and what I am meant to be doing," said Darst.