Eagle County commissioners recognize Crime Victims’ Rights Week
April has designations as both Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month. Sexual assault and child abuse are two circumstances in which people are made victims to a crime, alongside other situations. To show support for local victims of crime, advocates attended Tuesday’s Eagle County Commissioners meeting during which commissioners signed a resolution designating April 23 through April 29 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Eagle County Sheriff’s Office captain and jail commander Gregory Van Wyk spoke at the commissioners’ meeting. He thanked county commissioners for continuing the efforts of local law enforcement agencies and organizations that work to help victims recover, receive justice and have a voice.
Van Wyk was accompanied by representatives from the district attorney’s office, other law enforcement agencies, Eagle County Victim Services, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Bright Future Foundation — a local resource organization established to help families and individuals affected by sexual assault and domestic violence.
Teal ribbons — a symbol of sexual violence prevention — were distributed to those in attendance of the meeting.
“There are long-term consequences of all violence, but sexual violence is especially devastating,” Van Wyk said.
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Kristi Bloodworth is the attorney and legal advocacy coordinator for Bright Future Foundation. Bright Future Foundation works alongside law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and a multitude of additional local nonprofits to provide services to help victims of violence. Bloodworth said that in 2022, the organization served over 900 clients. She said that so far, it appears as though in 2023, those numbers will rise.
“I don’t know that that’s a goal that we have, but it’s just kind of a sign of the times that we’re getting busier,” Bloodworth said.
With Bright Future Foundation’s rising clientele, Bloodworth said the organization is constantly looking for additional sources of funding to increase staff and help victims of crime within the community.
“We would just like to express our gratitude to you as the commission for making this proclamation and recognizing and increasing awareness for victims of crime in our community,” Bloodworth said. “Thank you so much.”
Reyna Medrano works for Eagle County Victim Services. She explained that the designation of Crime Victims’ Rights Week does not only spread awareness to community members who are lucky enough to have lives untouched by violence, but it also allows crime victims who may not have sought help to understand that there are people and resources available locally to help them. Like wearing a teal ribbon, the designation is a gesture that shows crime victims that they have support.
In their work to help victims within the community, Medrano said Eagle County Victim Services coordinates applications for assistance with housing, counseling, security, etc. Victims may meet an Eagle County Victim Services representative on-scene following a crime, or they may reach out for help themselves. Medrano said that flyers are positioned in public places throughout the county with the phone numbers of local resources like crisis hotlines.
Though, even with resources in the community that aim to help victims out of the darkest period of their lives and into stability, awareness is crucial to get victims help and better help the community understand what they may be going through.
“This resolution will help to inform the community that it is never too late to get help,” Van Wyk said.