Can­dle­light vigil com­mem­o­rates crime vic­tims

Cen­ter for Abused Per­sons holds 22nd an­nual event

Maryland Independent - - News - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @An­drew_IndyNews

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.”

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