‘We want people to know they’re not alone’, nonprofit aims to help victims of violence in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Sunday is the start of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Since the start of 2021, there have been 40 reported homicides in the city. Advocates in Nashville are hoping to pave the path for a less violent future by gathering to acknowledge victims of violent crimes Sunday afternoon.

News 2 spoke with Valerie Craig, Co-Founder of Tennessee Voices for Victims, a non-profit victim advocacy agency. Craig told News 2 they provide services to victims of crime across the state.

“We come alongside people in those moments and try to help them navigate the system. We help them use their voice and learn how to heal from what has happened to them,” said Craig.

Craig said it’s crucial to acknowledge victims existence.

“We live in a culture that wants to focus so much on the attention of the offender or the person who has caused harm and really trying to figure out how they do that.. which is all really important, and a necessary part of the work as well. However, a lot of times in that conversation.. the pain and the impact the victim goes through gets ignored and that’s really painful,” said Craig.

Craig said the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated their efforts.

“One of the services we provide is victim impact within out jails and prisons. Of course.. those have been closed during the pandemic. We started a vehicle to provide some services via Zoom but it is not the same as being in person. That’s such an important part of our mission because we do want to interface with those who are causing harm and begin to work with them to help them stop that harm,” said Craig.

Craig said the pandemic has caused in increase in family violence.

“One in four girls and one in seven boys will be victims of sex abuse before they hit the age of 18. One in three women are living in domestic violence. The rules that came out in quarantine and the schools shutting down.. those are the eyes and ears in those kind of cases. I think we are going to see mental issues we have not seen before,” said Craig.

Craig said being a part of Tennessee Voices for Victims is a blessing.

“To come alongside people in their darkest moments and have the opportunity to come alongside them feels sacred. I think having the opportunity to introduce change not only in the individual lives.. but in a lot of projects to have a state-wide reach on things. Having that opportunity is a pretty big blessing,” explained Craig.

Sunday is the start of Crime Victims Rights’ Week. It’s a week set aside by the Federal Government to recognize victims of violent crimes.

“Traditionally, Davidson County sets that first Sunday aside to do something to honor and remember victims whose lives have been touched by violence. Sunday, we are meeting in the parking lot of Fifty Forward on 174 Rains Avenue. We are meeting in the parking lot to be COVID friendly,” explained Craig.

People can park their cars at the drive-in style ceremony or bring lawn chairs to sit outside. Anyone is welcome to attend and advocates will speak to share their stories.

“We want people to know they are not alone. They are remembered by their community and their community acknowledges their pain and suffering they need to address. We also want there to be hope because that’s the thing. Out of all the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet… victims of crime who do that hard work to become survivors are some of the most inspirational individuals,” explained Craig.

Courtesy: Nashville Voices for Victims

Craig told News 2 the event is open to the public and people in all stages of grief will be in attendance.

“There will be people there who are very, very fresh in their journey and there are people who are thirty years in. And having that hope of recognizing that.. even in this really fresh spot.. that there is a light and we can get there.. and we can definitely get there together,” said Craig.

The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. Sunday. If you cannot make it, feel free to watch a stream on the Nashville Voices for Victims Facebook page.

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