Decades after their cases were closed, Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh has kept in contact with some crime victims who are now in their early 30s.
While some continue to need help, others become counselors to help those who face similar issues.
“If you know victims who are young and are growing and becoming young adults, they need your friendship,” Darragh said. “They need your support. They need your help.”
Hall County officials gathered Friday at Kenyon Plaza outside the Hall County Courthouse for the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Volunteers disseminated dozens of white carnations through the crowd. Attached below the flower’s petals were quotes from crime victim survivors.
“You have taught me that I don’t have to be a prisoner to what happened to me anymore — my feelings and fears have already been transformed into hope through our conversations,” one anonymous survivor said.
Rape Response Executive Director Jeanne Buffington said it takes female victims often 10 years to disclose and almost double for male victims.
“To any of you victims that are here, I just want to say I’m so proud of you for surviving the crimes that have happened in your life,” she said.
Solicitor Stephanie Woodard presented the 2016 Victims’ Rights award to Steve Collins, the founder of Adults Protecting Children.
“He has made it his life’s mission to educate our community to be adults protecting children, to be stewards of our children,” she said.
Calling the award “a shock,” Collins said preventing even one child from suffering sexual abuse will have been worth it.
“There’s going to be a day in the future when they look back at our generation and say that they stopped child sexual abuse and they’ve changed the culture,” he said.