At the beginning of April, I teamed up with the District Attorney’s Office to write a series of articles telling the stories of a variety of victims. This project’s called Faces of Victims with the goal being to put a face and story behind a statistic to better understand the trauma and struggles which will affect these individuals for the rest of their lives.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month and includes National Victims’ Rights Week. April’s a time to raise awareness for the survivors of horrific and life-changing events.
The sad truth is these individuals often tend to be forgotten after the court cases are over. Support of the victim slowly begins to fade and the focus of a past assault or crime becomes old news to the public.
To come forward and tell someone about the worst moments of your life and times of being completely violated is an incredible act of bravery and shows how resilient these individuals are. Survivors of these crimes and assaults carry a large burden of pain and suffering on their shoulders. Most suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues caused by dealing with the abuse and heartache for a long period of time, while others also carry physical scars.
I understand throughout this month, I’ve flooded the Standard with heart-wrenching stories that may be disturbing and upsetting to some readers. This series is aimed to bring attention to the legitimate and troubling issues sadly taking place on a daily basis in our community. I also wanted to give a voice to those who’ve been affected by a form of crime or abuse. This project isn’t meant to create negativity. However, it’s used to help express real, raw and uncomfortable emotions to form a deeper understanding, knowledge and thoughtfulness, making the public question how it would feel to suffer in ways these survivors have.
I’m not going to pretend listening to these stories doesn’t weigh heavily on my heart, or I haven’t walked out of an interview feeling drained and emotional. As I watch these brave individuals cry, become filled with anger or their eyes glaze over while thinking back to a painful experience, my soul aches for them. I want to reach out, take their hand and tell them how much I admire their courage and strength. However, the rage and disgust I feel toward their abusers make my stomach turn and question how a person could be so inhumane, uncaring, filled with hatred, violence and have no remorse.
Instead, I look at the survivor sitting across from me as they smile at how much their life has improved and found happiness. This is where I find hope in human nature. This is why I continue telling these astounding stories of not only surviving, but thriving, hoping someone enduring a hard time in their life reads a story which gives them the strength to heal and find their own deserved happiness.
Standard reporter Atlanta Northcutt can be reached at 473-2191.