RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) - Imagine being shot by a loved one or raped by a complete stranger. It's happening more often than you'd think, so this week groups in Virginia are taking a stand.
Today Governor Terry McAuliffe proclaimed this Crime Victims' Rights Week in Virginia. It's part of a national effort to honor those recovering from unthinkable acts and those who work tirelessly to help, like the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. "These crimes of violence cross every facet of our society and bring people together around issues to make a change," says Executive Director Kristi VanAudenhove.
Changes started happening in the early 1980's after John Hinckley tried to assassinate President Reagan. At the time, Reagan noticed there weren't many services for victims. Since then, states including ours have worked on law enforcement response on the scene as well as advocacy programs.
Brian Moran, Virginia's Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, says the Commonwealth has evolved over the years, but it's just the beginning. "There's still progress to be made and we will, we will make more progress."
Speakers at today's proclamation say it's critical that more victims speak up. In 2012 there were 15,564 violent crimes reported in Virginia, but advocates know that's only a portion of what actually happened. Kassandra Bullock of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services explains, "Some victims do not report the crime for fear or mistrust of criminal justice systems or their processes, so there is still much work to do at the local level, the state level and our communities."
If something has happened to you, help is available through the Virginia Victim Assistance Network.
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