In 2010, victims age 12 or older experienced a total of 188,380 rapes or sexual assaults in the U.S according to the Office for Victims of Crime. The same year, the office reported violent crimes relating to domestic or intimate partner violence totaled 13.4 percent of all violent crimes. To raise awareness and offer assistance to victims of crimes, the county will be observing National Crime Victims' Rights week.
"There are some people still that don't know what their rights are," Julia Richards, victim-witness assistance director, said, "and it's important that they know there are people here that care about them and that are going to help them to walk through the judicial process and to be able to point them in the right direction to get the resources that they need and get the help that they need and if somebody has been a victim of a crime they don't have to sit in silence they can reach out and there are people here to help them."
The week, beginning April 22, will be "a time to honor crime victims" and the nation's "progress in advancing their rights," according to a news release. The theme this year will be "Extending the Vision: Reaching Every Victim" and was chosen to "celebrate the vision behind the progress and the ideal of serving all victims of crime."
In Bartow, the a variety of displays will be set up around the Frank Moore Judicial and Administration Center Monday through Friday. Displays are set to highlight 2011 statistics related to crime victims and serve to educate visitors on resources available within the community.
"A PowerPoint presentation is going to be set up on the third floor and basically it's got information regarding when the victims right movement started, how it was established and things that have changed over the years," Richards said. "It's an informative PowerPoint presentation and it will be running constantly on the third floor on our information table all week and we're going to have an eye-catching display out in front of the courthouse also."
A new event has been added to the calendar for the week. Wednesday, male law enforcement, elected officials and district attorney staff will be participating in Put Yourself in Her Shoes.
"They will be walking around the crime victim's monument in women's shoes to help raise awareness during national crime victim rights week," Richards said. "They're going to walk for 2.8 minutes to signify the fact that every 2.8 minutes one person is raped or sexually assaulted nationwide. Rosemary Greene, the assistant District Attorney, is going to speak. We've got a handful confirmed already."
Schedule for the same week as Grand Jury proceedings, Richards hopes the displays and event will raise awareness for victims rights.
"I'm thrilled that it worked out that way. It's just great to be able to get the word out and inform people so people can be aware," Richards said. "We have lots of material set out for people to help them for resources and such."
For additional information about National Crime Victims' Rights Week, please contact the Bartow County Victim Assistance Unit at 770-387-5106, or visit www. bartowga.org/vwap.