Advocates provide support and resources to families affected by gun violence while on vacation

INDIANAPOLIS – As Indianapolis closes 2021 with another record-breaking homicide year, the families of more than 260 victims prepare to spend the holidays without loved ones.

Many of these killings are the result of gun violence.

“Gun violence is a disruptor,” DeAndra Dycus said. “He’s a life disruptor. He’s a dream disruptor. It is a disruptor of hope.

Dycus is the executive director and founder of the local nonprofit association, Objective 4 My pain. She started it after almost losing her son, Dre, seven years ago. He was hit by a stray bullet at a birthday party as a teenager.

Now 21, he is paralyzed, unable to speak and requires 24-hour care.

Although he survived, Dycus says their life has changed forever.

“I’m getting ready to pick up Dre and bring him home with us for the vacation, and for me this morning it was emotional,” she said. “Yes, I’m glad I can bring Dre home, but the idea that Christmas is so different. That I go to an establishment to pick up my child, and when I bring him home, it’s 24 hour care, 24 hour surveillance. He cannot open the presents.

The life-changing impacts of gun violence are what drives Purpose 4 My Pain and its mission to help surviving families.

This past weekend, the organization partnered with local groups to bring the vacations to over 100 people through its Christmas With A Purpose event. Those numbers, which Dycus says are the highest they’ve served in the event’s six years, include children and single parents, or grandparents, left to raise them as a result of gun violence. in their families.

“A lot of the families we have served this year, it was their first time. It will be their first Christmas without their loved ones, ”she said.

As families embark on a difficult journey, Dycus says it’s important for those around them to know how to offer support.

“You learn to deal with survivors lightly. Not to the point where you feel like you can’t be with them, you can’t interact with them because some families feel that way, ”she said. “They feel like they’ve lost loved ones. They feel like they’ve lost friends because people don’t know how to behave or be with them. They just want you to like them, and a big part of that is just sitting down and listening.

Purpose 4 My Pain also offers a variety of services, including bereavement support, funeral assistance, and even financial assistance for therapy sessions.

When the holidays arrive, Dycus encourages families to allow themselves to feel their pain while recognizing the good in their lives.

“We can be so wrapped up in our grief that we block the ones we still have and miss those moments, and we don’t want another chance to regret,” she said. “We want to make sure that we allow ourselves to feel it, but also allow ourselves to enjoy the moments that we have.”

This is also what she plans to do as she celebrates another holiday with her own family.

“I’m going to allow myself to feel it and I’m going to live in a place of gratitude to be with Dre in the capacity that I can, and that’s what I encourage other families to do,” she said. added.

For anyone interested in support services or resources through Purpose 4 My Pain, Dycus encourages you to reach out. You can fill out the contact form and a local agent will contact you. You can also call 317-983-1418 or email [email protected]

Sibling support groups are also offered through SCARS. Dycus says this group is open to all siblings who have suffered all kinds of loss, be it gun violence, cancer, or other causes.

“Sometimes the parents’ pain overshadows that of the child, but they also suffer, so they can contact us through our website or also on Facebook under SCARS,” Dycus said.