Congressman Costa Brings Leaders to the Valley to Further Strengthen Services for Violent Crime Survivors
Fresno, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) hosted national, state, and Valley leaders, survivor service providers, law enforcement, and victim advocates at a forum today at Fresno State on serving victims and survivors of violent crime.
“Ensuring survivors of crime get the justice they deserve and the support they need in their recovery has been one of my priorities since I was first elected to Congress,” said Rep. Costa. “This requires that we collaborate and share our experiences and expertise. We learned a great deal today that strengthens our advocacy by listening to the voices of survivors. As a co-founder of the bipartisan Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus over a decade ago, it is the stories of these crime victims and their families that motivate me every day. This forum provided all of us an opportunity to listen and learn. Everyone here today is dedicated to this task, and I look forward to continuing to work together to serve our crime victims, survivors, and their families.
Krista Niemczyk, Public Policy Manager for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, described the forum with: “This event was an important opportunity to end Domestic Violence Awareness Month by calling attention to the needs of survivors and their families, and the range of services available to support them towards healing. From reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act to working directly with survivors in the community, we all have a role to play in ending domestic violence.”
National Victim Advocate Anne Seymour, who also spoke at this morning’s event, said, “Congressman Costa and the Caucus have amplified victims’ voices for 14 years. With the horrific hate crimes occurring in our nation last weekend over a 72-hour-period, this forum is timely and critical to the Caucus’ efforts to help survivors and communities traumatized by crime.”
Survivors, advocates, and experts spoke about difficulties, advancements, and how to overcome challenges related to serving survivors and supporting service providers to roughly 85 local community member and leaders who attended. One common theme rose: We must listen to our survivors and hear their experience to better serve victims of violence.
“Bringing voice to the voiceless is not only the first step in combatting sexual assault and sexual violence, it is the foundation for successfully providing the critical care needed to restore shattered lives,” said Debra Rush, Co-founder and CEO of Breaking the Chains, a Valley organization that works to prevent, rescue, and serve survivors of human trafficking.
“As an ‘overcomer,’ I believe that the community needs to hear from the overcomers to understand what truly makes a difference,” shared Founder and CEO of Angels of Grace Lisa Casarez. “It only takes one person to change your life.”