‘Support one another’: Salt Lake City kicks off week honoring crime victims

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SALT LAKE CITY — Suzy Sammann knew that not everyone who stopped by her information booth Monday at the National Crime Victims Rights Week kickoff would be a victim of domestic violence.
But the odds are that most people at least know someone who is such a victim, she said.
Even in reaching out to those who are indirectly affected, Sammann said it bolstered the Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center at YWCA’s opportunities to help those who suffer violence at the hand of a loved one — whether it be days, months or years down the road.
“It really gets the word out so people can help friends and family who have been in (bad) situations,” she said.
For victims of domestic violence, “it really helps to know someone who knows someone,” Sammann said.
Several other organizations that serve crime victims were on hand at the kickoff event held at Liberty Park, including the state Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Utah Office for Victims of Crime, Prevent Child Abuse Utah and Bikers Against Child Abuse.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski read a proclamation saying the city would observe National Crime Victims Rights week over the coming days.
Biskupski said her own life has been touched by crime.
“The reason we’re here is to support one another,” she told those gathered. “Many of us are victims, myself included.”
Supporting victims of crime means alleviating suffering, the mayor said. In 2016, roughly 19,000 crimes were committed in Salt Lake City, taking a deeply personal toll on every victim who was targeted, Biskupski said.
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“Across Salt Lake City, people of all ages and all backgrounds become victims of crimes each year and suffer physically, emotionally and socially,” she said.
Too many victims are stigmatized or even blamed for what happened to them, according to the mayor.
“We really need a new mindset and to change things around,” Biskupski said.
Salt Lake City, she said, has an impressive network of social services designed to reach out to those whose lives are devastated in the wake of criminal activity.
“We support policies and actions that recognize crime victims’ rights,” Biskupski said. “We express sincere appreciation for those who assist victims in finding … justice and peace.”
Prevent Child Abuse Utah and other organizations were on hand to provide information about looking for risk factors of child abuse and how to support children who have been victimized.
Gwen Knight, a school and community outreach coordinator for Prevent Child Abuse Utah, said children need to be listened to when they try to speak out about being abused. Child abuse is more common than most people realize or acknowledge, she said.
“Sometimes we just think it can’t happen to us,” Knight said.
Children who are abused are at greater risk later in life for suicide, developing mental health challenges and substance abuse problems, she said, meaning “we’ll really have a healthier society” if such abuse is prevented or if victims can find help early on.
Monday’s kickoff also featured a pie-eating contest, a visit from the Utah Grizzlies’ mascot, Grizzbee, and several food trucks to choose from.
Also as part of National Crime Victims Rights Week, a free showing of “Moana” will be held 6:30-9:30 p.m. Friday at the Sorenson Unity Center, 1383 S. 900 West.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes will speak about the resilience of crime victims prior to the movie, and attendees will be treated to a performance by the Glendale-based Malialole Dance Group.
Saturday is Crime Victims Rights Night at the Maverik Center, where the Utah Grizzlies will be hosting the Missouri Mavericks. Jake Barney, son of Unified police officer Jake Barney, who was shot and killed in the line of duty last year, will perform the ceremonial puck drop.

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