Voices heard

Display focuses on people affected by crime

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Shirts hang along South Washington Street as part of the Clothesline Project Wednesday morning.

Those affected by shaken baby syndrome, domestic violence and sexual assault were heard Wednesday.

Seneca County Victim Assistance Program set up a display on Courthouse Square along South Washington Street Wednesday as part of the Clothesline Project, which began with a display of 33 shirts in Massachusetts in 1990.

“This is their voice. … Victimization happens,” said Joyce Randell, a victim advocate.

It was the first time the local victim assistance program participated in the project, and the 17 shirts displayed messages from local victims.

“This is our first year. … Who knows what next year’ll bring,” Randell said.

Randell and Lidia Lee, director of Seneca County Victim Assistance Program, said they would like to see the display become an annual event. Victim advocates didn’t guide the victims they contacted to participate, Randall said.

“It’s your voice. … They did it,” she said.

The display was part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Seneca County Victim Assistance Program has five full-time advocates and one part-time advocate who provide support to people affected by crimes such as homicides, sexual assaults, domestic violence and criminal trespassing.

Lee said the situation does not have to involve a criminal case. A victim advocate still would provide assistance if the situation is not considered a crime under the law, she said. 

“We provide assistance to anyone,” she said.

Also, a victim advocate can continue to work with a victim after a case is complete. Advocates sometimes are in contact with victims for years.

Randell said the court system is foreign to most people.

“It’s really overwhelming,” Lee said.

The victim assistance program offers an free, eight-session, faith-based support group at its office Friday afternoons.

“It’s just based on how to build, develop and maintain health relationships,” Randell said.

For more information, call (419) 448-5070.