Candlelight vigil commemorates crime victims
Center for Abused Persons holds 22nd annual event
In commemoration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Center for Abused Persons (CAP) held its 22nd annual candlelight vigil at the Charles County Circuit Courthouse April 12.
After Annette Gilbert-Jackson, CAP executive director, gave opening remarks, Charles County Commissioners’ President Peter Murphy (D) and Commissioner Amanda Stewart (D) officially proclaimed the week to be Crime Victims’ Rights Week in the county.
“We need more resources” to help the “ever-growing” group of victim families, said State’s Attorney Tony Covington (D). “We need to do more … we need to come together and help them.”
Covington emphasized that in order to increase funding for agencies such as CAP, that provide a multitude of free services to victims which includes a 24hour crisis hotline, citizens need to contact legislators.
Sheriff Troy Berry (D) agreed with Covington that the community needs to pool together to help those whose lives have been impacted by crime, especially domestic violence and sexual assault.
As a detective, Berry has seen first-hand how devastating these crimes can be, he said.
Like Berry, Capt. Stephen Salvas has seen the worst of it as an investigator. That’s why he got involved with the CAP eight years ago and is now on the board of directors.
“They are a true partner with us in what we do [at the sheriff’s office,]” Salvas said, adding that he would often see them supporting victims at the hospital while he worked as a detective with the child abuse unit, and later when he worked on the domestic abuse unit.
“They do wonderful work,” he said. For example, CAP representatives help “walk victims through the process of obtaining protective orders, being with victims when they’re in the courtroom, and helping them to be strong when facing an abuser.”
“A lot of the work goes on behind the scenes,” he said, mentioning a program CAP offers that helps abusers deal with conflict in a healthy way, and to not lash out at loved ones.
“The truth is … they’re helping us to change people, change behavior,” he added.
“I have a passion for helping people,” said CAP President Garcia Buckley. “Domestic violence is a silent epidemic. It’s hard to come forward.”
Buckley, a social worker with Charles County Public Schools, believes teaching children healthy conflict-resolution at a young age will help prevent future incidents of domestic violence.
“Talk with the kids, young kids, about what’s healthy. What’s a healthy relationship. It’s not OK to hit; it’s not OK to yell at somebody because you’re angry,” she said.
“I have a passion for just helping people,” Buckley continued. “I think that we all need to come together … to bring awareness to the fact that there are victims out there; there are limited resources out there. We need to empower them.”