Kentucky beginning a “new day” for crime victims

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The Attorney General’s Survivors’ Council spoke at a resource fair for crime victims

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – There are some groups no one joins willingly, crime victims is one of them. People who are using their personal trauma to help others gathered in Frankfort Wednesday during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

“My name is Shellena Harmon and I am one of the Survivors’ Council members. I’m a survivor of sex trafficking.”

Harmon was among a group of crime victims who shared their stories at a crime victims fair at the state capitol. The stories were different but had one common theme- hurt. But, it’s said there is strength in numbers and this event brought together a built-in support group in a state where it’s needed.

“Kentucky has the highest inter-personal rate of violence in the nation at 45.3%. The national average is 23% and I know nobody here is okay with those numbers,” says Christy Burch, the Ion Center for Violence Prevention CEO. “We all want it to be different, we are here because we know it can be different.”

However, the Ion Center says Kentucky also leads in violence prevention by encouraging people to actively intervene and check-in on people. The Ion Center says it’s important not to forget the stories of the past when making change for the future.

The state prosecutor in Graves County says the victims of these crimes are often told to “simply trust in the process” while reliving the nightmare that started the case, but says Kentucky is beginning a “new day.”

“Victims can now trust in prosecutors across the state who are focusing their efforts on victim-centered, trauma-informed prosecution,” says Aimee Clymer-Hancock, the First Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the Graves County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. “This means while prosecutors are seeking truth and justice, we are also ensuring our victims are heard.”

“Victims tend to believe that nobody will help them and that there is no way out,” says Harmon. “I choose to be living proof that there is a way out and there is life after a terrible experience.”

The Attorney General’s Survivors’ Council, which is made up of crime victims, says it understands the road to healing isn’t linear and justice doesn’t mean the same thing to all survivors, but the council is working to improve the state’s systems and services to better meet the needs of those who come forward.

“We all understand that there is no perfect solution,” says Julie Horen-Easley, a member of the Survivors’ Council. “There is never going to be that magic wand that just fixes it, but collectively we can all make it better.”

For a list of resources available to those victim to a crime, click on the link HERE.

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