Forum scheduled for tonight

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

In an effort to acquaint community members with local resources available for crime victims, the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office is hosting a public forum tonight.

A panel of representatives from multiple judicial and victims’ services in Roosevelt and Curry counties will be on hand to talk with residents and share the programs offered by their respective agencies, according to Amber Hamilton, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners administrator.

The forum is part of local recognition for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Unfortunately, most people either have been the victim of a violent crime, will be sometime in their lives or know a crime victim, Hamilton said.

For example, national statistics show one in three females and one in six males will be sexually assaulted before they reach age 18, she said.

“(Being a victim of crime can be) overwhelming. All of a sudden your world comes crashing down,” Hamilton said.

Victim support resources can help empower victims and give them tools to carry on in the midst of a traumatic situation, she said.
Hamilton said people in all walks of life can benefit from the forum. Victims, parents, educators and employers can, through knowledge of local services, help those who suffer the results of violent crime, she said.

Patti Johnson, director of the victim impact program from the district attorney’s office, said her program helps guide victims and their families through the court system.

Helping people deal with everything from assault to homicide, Johnson said the system can be daunting for someone who has experienced a traumatic event and is unfamiliar with the judicial process.

Many times, Johnson said crimes go unreported because victims do not know there is help for them and they do not have to go through it alone.

Letting people in the community know what’s out there for victims and helping them understand how to tap those resources or help a victim are crucial, she said.

“We have so many unreported crimes. This year’s (motto), ‘Every victim, every time,’ means every time we have a victim we want to make sure they know about everything available to them,” she said. “There are so many resources out there.”