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Having informed conversations regarding sexual assault with attendees at the Century Village Community Services Health Fair. Palm Beach County Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center, Sharon Daugherty with Consumer Affairs colleagues, Jeff Eidelberg & Anthony Gregory.
WPTV featured a piece on the Palm Beach Victims’ Coalition’s National Day Of Remembrance 2017:
PALM BEACH SHORES, Fla. – Families and friends of people lost to homicide never forget the tragedy of losing loved ones so senselessly.
On Sunday, the Palm Beach County community came together to remember those victims.
The Palm Beach Victims’ Rights Coalition hosted a ceremony ahead of the National Day of Remembrance on Monday.
The ceremony was held at the Palm Beach Shores Community Center and honored victims of violence. Families spoke about the grief and their experiences in the wake of tragedy.
“People are affected by this on a daily basis. It’s not a short-term problem — it’s long-term. It’s eye opening for people that haven’t been touched by violence to know that it exists and how these people are affected by it. It affects us all,” said Annette Andre of the Palm Beach County Victims’ Rights Coalition.
Families traveled from other parts of Florida to attend Sunday’s event in Palm Beach County.
As the Certified Rape Crisis Center for Palm Beach County, Victim Services is responsible for assisting inmates at the Sao Palm Re-Entry Center. To cooperate with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, (PREA – the first United States federal law passed dealing with the sexual assault of prisoners), crisis responders took a tour of the prison and met with the warden.
What is Sago Palm Re-Entry Center?
Sago Palm Re-Entry Center is classified at the lowest custody level for a facility. Minimum security prisons or prison camps are comprised of non-secure dormitories which are routinely patrolled by correctional officers, it has it’s own group toilet and shower area adjacent to the sleeping quarters that contain double bunks and lockers. The prison has a single perimeter fence which is inspected on a regular basis, but has no armed watch towers or roving patrol. There is less supervision and control over inmates in the dormitories and less supervision of inmate movement within the prison than at any other custody level. Inmates assigned to minimum security prisons generally pose the least risk to public safety. The camp is considered the best situation to be in if you have to be incarcerated. Inmates must have less than 10 years on their sentence, be non-violent with a clear disciplinary history to qualify for camp designation. Long term inmates at higher security institutions within the system are incentivized to “work their way down” in the custody levels to be eligible for transfer to the camp.
In April, following the Ceremony in the Garden event for Victim Rights Week, the Palm Beach Post featured this article:
By Mike Stucka – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Posted: 1:44 p.m. Thursday, April 06, 2017
WEST PALM BEACH —
After a childhood of abuse was followed by a rape that battered most of her body, Bridgit Stoffer has accepted she’ll never be the person she was. But she still has hope, the Palm Beach State College art professor said at a Thursday ceremony for crime victims.
“Some days I feel completely broken and wonder if I’m worth fixing. I’m haunted by memories no one should have to think about, much less relive,” she said at the seventh Ceremony in the Garden. But she offered a thought: “If we believe tomorrow will be better, we can bear today.”
Later, she told a reporter, “I will always be changed. I don’t know that it will get better, but I can be better.” And from volunteer work, becoming an art professor and drafting her memoirs, Stoffer, 34, of Delray Beach is finding ways to better herself and rebuild her life.
Thursday’s annual event, part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, melded falling blossoms from trees at Mounts Botanical Garden just west of the city with the comfort of therapy dogs and guided relaxation lessons. Boxes of tissues were scattered among the audience of about 60.
A survivor of domestic violence who asked to be identified only as Christine from of southern Palm Beach County said, “My ex-husband was very very sick, and was dangerous,” when she sought help at a police station for herself and a child. People around her didn’t believe her story because her husband concealed his alcoholism.
“True strength is keeping it all together when everyone around you would understand if it all fell apart,” she said. She said she learned to take life day by day when she had to. Sometimes, it became hour by hour and even minute by minute.
Angela Johnson, whose son was gunned down in South Bay one morning as he walked his dog two years ago, realized she only talked about Harry Johnson, 35, if she was talking about his murder. She’d never thought of herself as a victim until someone referred her to Palm Beach County’s victim services department, which helped her.
“When I need to cry, I cry. But I choose to live,” said Johnson, whose voice broke as she described finding her son’s body at the crime scene. “… You are stronger than you think. You are stronger than you know.”
“Those messages can help other victims,” said Nicole Bishop, director of the county’s victim services department, which helps about 3,600 people a year.
“Some hope can come from sharing those stories,” she said.
The organization offers advocacy, therapy, support groups, help with restraining orders, and other services. People needing help can call a 24-hour hotline at (561) 833-7273.
Other local events in National Crime Victims’ Rights Week include a Walk For Victims’ Rights, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday at Currie Park, 2400 N. Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach. People can learn more at www.sa15.org online.
“I’m honored to be chosen among my peers for this position,” Elizabeth said. “I can’t wait to get my hands on as many activities as possible to further promote forensic nursing.” As a sexual assault forensic nurse, Elizabeth specializes in the education and clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of a victim who has experienced sexual assault or abuse.
IAFN, which is divided into U.S. state chapters, is an international membership organization comprised of forensic nurses working around the world and other professionals who support and complement the work of forensic nursing. The chapter president-elect, in the absence or disability of the president, performs the duties and has the authority to exercise the powers of the FL IAFN president.
In preparing for her first Florida IAFN chapter meeting of 2017, Elizabeth will learn more about the responsibility and tasks of her new position and start planning the 2017 state conference. Topics expected to be addressed include skills verification, giving court testimony and peer review of the medical-forensic records.
As a SANE, Elizabeth collaborates with other disciplines in the community such as law enforcement, crime lab personnel, child protection, attorneys, and directly with Palm Beach County Victim Services advocates, who all provide unique and compassionate, victim-centered services to sexual assault victims. Congratulations!
Elizabeth Marlow, RN, SANE-A
Victim advocates Chandra Cosby and Angeletta Sewell were there as representatives of Palm Beach County Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center to provide information about services available to crime victims.
In keeping with Victim Services’ victim-centered approach and services, the advocates responded appropriately as they interacted with the diverse population together with other local agencies who also provided education and free resources to the community.
The Glades Family Fun Fest was a true, healthy success for all who attended. In addition to receiving important information, guests enjoyed free food, and a variety of free games and activities, music and dance, bounce houses, face-painting, rock climbing, and team sports.
Chandra Cosby and Angeletta Sewell at the Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center booth