Friday, September 7, 2007
Don't Be a Victim: Victim's Advocate
The road to recovery is a hard one for victims of violent crime. But a service provided by the state is helping to turn lives around. Seven's Richard Lemus explains in tonights Don't be a Victim.
WSVN -- "Every 60 seconds ten Americans become a victim of a crime."
It's a hard reality.
Kattia Castellanos: "In the year 2005, there were 23 million crime victims, out of those 2.5 [million] were violent crimes. That's a staggering number."
Kattia Castellanos is a crime victim advocate with Coral Gables Police. She puts names to those numbers everyday.
Kattia Castellanos: "When someone is victimized you're lost, you're in shock. We are here to inform them of their rights."
But many crime victims don't know their rights and don't know they are entitled to help.
Lost wages, medical expenses up to $10,000, mental health counseling services and relocation reimbursement up to $1,000, and they help guide victims through the court system.
Kattia Castellanos: "We are there for them to basically do the crises from the beginning, to be with them, inform them that they can navigate through the system. We can help them trough that legal system."
Money for the program comes from court fees the offenders pay. The money in turn is used to provide services to their victims.
Kattia Castellanos: "You don't forget anything like that. This event scars you for life."
Lietty Pubillones got help. When she was pregnant her husband physically assaulted her. The program helped her financially, but, she says, even more important was the support she received.
Lietty Pubillones: "The support that I received from Kattia was in the form of emotional support, like a friend, a counselor, like someone that really connected with me and understood exactly what I was going through."
It's a way of giving power to those who feel they have lost it all at a time when they need it most.
Richard Lemus: "The Victim's Advocate Compensation program is now nationwide. If you have been the victim of a crime, you should contact your local Police Department."