Tonight I have the very special honor to speak for the Candle Light Vigil during the event for Restoring the Balance of Justice; held & coordinated by Rescue & Restore of Southwestern Illinois & Hoyleton Ministries. This event made possible by a grant for National Crime Victims Rights Week 2014 and the amazing work of Miss Kristen Eng.
Most of my life I lived as a VICTIM, never once realizing I had any RIGHTS to change what was happening or seek safety through some form of resource or justice. Actually when I think back on all that encompassed my life and the many different types of crime I was trained to tolerate, it makes me wonder today the ‘WHAT IF’ there would have been just one day that I believed I could take back control and reach out for help?
I was a VICTIM at five years old when my stepfather first attacked me with vicious sexual abuse.
I was a VICTIM at nine years old when my mother began training me as the family slave in forced child labor.
I was a VICTIM at eleven years old when my stepfather began trading me out in child sex trafficking.
I was a VICTIM at twelve years old when my mother refused any form of basic human necessities and the child neglect of all medical care left me scarred from head to toe; inside and out.
I was a VICTIM at fifteen years old in a life that was filled with brutal physical abuse day in and day out, which was witnessed by family friends, neighbors, school mates, and siblings.
I was a VICTIM at 17 when I left home to live with a man who then began to beat me and I suffered severe injuries by his almost murderous attacks for two years.
I was a VICTIM at 20 years old when I married an emotionally abusive and constantly degrading man who then became father to my three children.
I was a VICTIM at 30 years old when my second husband beat me during his repeated alcoholic rages and left me permanently injured.
I lived as a VICTIM for over 30 years, trained to believe I had NO VOICE, NO FREEDOM, NO RIGHTS TO JUSTICE to change what had happened to me throughout all those years filled with pain, terror, sadness, isolation, and silence.
Tonight as I stand up here and we light our candles, I pray all of you who have been touched by some form of violent crime can feel the power of freedom with me. There is a huge swing in our pendulum of justice today. A new generation is taking charge and we are creating awareness, resources of help, support in our recovery, and the ability to claim our VICTIMS RIGHTS through our system of justice.
No longer can we live in the past and teach our children, our partners, our spouses, neighbors, families, and friends to be silent and to continue tolerating the attacks against our sense of personal safety. When a crime, any type of crime, invades your sense of safety you then are left to feel powerless, without a voice, shame in your vulnerability, and blame by those who abandon you. Tonight this is our time to reclaim our freedom, to take back our power, to allow that sense of power to embed itself deep down in your soul that you are able to raise your head up, release yourself from any sense of shame. When you are a VICTIM, this is NOT something you wanted, this is NOT something you did; this is an act that some other person CHOSE to commit AGAINST you.
In the state of Illinois, along with 30 other states in our society today, we are taking back our RIGHT to be aware of the resources available to help us. Taking back our RIGHT to seek justice and have our court system enforce our VICTIMS RIGHTS. We as a human society have a grand opportunity to begin teaching the next generation their true right to be safe, live safe, and respect the HUMAN RIGHTS given to all persons in our nation.
Tonight here among all of those in attendance, the US Attorneys Office, State’s Attorneys Office, FBI Services, Resources for your Victims Rights, Survivors & Victims –tonight with you we claim our freedom and in lighting your torch may it be a source that you take with you always and pass on to those in your family, your neighbors, churches, workplace, and in our daily lives. Tonight we light our torch in memory of those we’ve lost, but also in memory of the power you hold inside to change what generations before us have taught in tolerance and silence, we take back our voice and we pass forward the torch of freedom. Thank you for carrying your torch of a new beginning.
We claim our VICTIMS RIGHTS!!!
Here’s to teaching the pattern of love, life, happiness, and most of all SAFETY to the next generation!!!
©Patricia A McKnight
Author: ‘My Justice’
Butterfly Dreams Abuse Recovery