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Recognizing Those Who Help Reshape the Futures of Crime Victims

 The following post appears courtesy of Susan B. Carbon, Director, Office on Violence Against Women Since its inception in 1981, National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) has provided an opportunity for the nation to recognize individuals and organizations that have made a personal and professional commitment to reshape the futures of crime victims by seeking rights, resources, and protections needed to rebuild their lives.  The Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) organizes the Department of Justice’s NCVRW Observance, which includes the Candlelight Observance held Thursday evening, and Friday’s Awards Ceremony.   Their identification of honorees reflects the breadth of exemplary crime victim work across the country. During today’s event marking the Department of Justice’s observance of NCVRW, Attorney General Holder presented awards to seven individuals and three organizations, honoring their longstanding commitment to protecting victims’ rights and strengthening the criminal justice system to support those rights. The recipients of today’s awards include several whose work changed the lives of victims and survivors, and improved or created responses and services to victims of sexual assault, human trafficking, domestic violence, and elder abuse and neglect.   We join the Attorney General in saying “thank you.”  The  Office on Violence Against Women is grateful  for the  contributions of Sarah Deer,  Richard Brooks Douglass,  Dr. Pamela Faith Young McCarter,  Charlotte L. Moerbe,  Ph.D., and the Honorable Ronald  Reinstein for their work in strengthening  responses to, and services for,  victims of sexual assault, advocating for victims of human trafficking,  ensuring that victims’ voices are heard in the courtroom and that they receive prompt restitution.   Through their determination and willingness to speak out and make a difference they have created positive options for victims and survivors who are often under-represented, are unaware of the support available to them and often are silent about the crime because they fear the perpetrator.   Our gratitude also extends to the House of Ruth and the Elder Abuse Forensic Center for their remarkable work on behalf of domestic violence victims and the prevention, assessment, and treatment of elder abuse and neglect.  These are places where victims of abuse, experiencing physical, emotional and psychological trauma, receive the services they need. These organizations have an important impact on the goal of providing a coordinated community response to support victims so that the resources they need are available in a seamless and effective system. For their leadership and commitment to assisting victims by strengthening the federal system’s responses to crime victims we also thank  FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III; Nicole Robinson, and the Financial Litigation Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Texas, for their service. By recognizing the accomplishments of all the award recipients in each of the eight award categories:  the National Crime Victim Service Award;  Award for Professional  Innovation in Victim Services; Allied Professional Award; Volunteer for Victims Award; Federal Service Award; Crime Victims Fund Award; Special Courage Award; and the Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award,  we  are strengthened and renewed in our own commitment to make a difference in the lives of crime victims, survivors, their families and their communities.  In the words of the Attorney General Eric Holder:
The scope of these efforts is impressive.  And thanks to the people in this room, our work is making a meaningful, measurable difference.  But this is only the beginning.  I pledge that the Justice Department will continue to work with our partners across the victims’ services community to more effectively serve those who need – and who are relying on – our help.  We can all be encouraged by the administration’s clear support of this goal.  As many of you know, the President’s fiscal year 2012 budget request does not cut any money from victims’ assistance initiatives.  In fact, it calls for millions in additional funding.  I look forward to putting these resources to work.  And, as I look around this room, I can’t help but feel optimistic about where we will go from here – and all that we will accomplish – together.  I am privileged, and grateful, to count you all as partners.  And I am proud to join with you in recognizing, and commending, each of this year’s outstanding awardees.  These awardees have made individual lives better and our nation greater.
Particularly during the month of April, designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the contributions of these individuals demonstrate that the action of one person, or a team of people, has significant value and results.  They are real life examples.  Let’s support their work, honor their sacrifices and learn from their experiences.  We too can take action and get involved in our own communities to make a difference.   In the words of the theme for NCVRW collectively we are partners in “Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past” in our approaches and reactions to crime victims.  For additional information about sexual assault and resources, please visit OVW’s website at www.ovw.usdoj.gov. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network at 800–656–HOPE (800–656–4673) to be connected to the rape crisis center nearest to you, or visit www.rainn.org for more information.  You can also contact the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at 1-877-739-3895 or www.nsvrc.org.
Updated April 27, 2017