Crime survivors stage healing vigil

Flyer courtesy: Survivors Speak organization

Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) will host their annual Survivors Speak Healing Vigil at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Quincy.

After a legislative victory Wednesday with the passage of HB 233 — also known as Curtis’ Law — CSSJ members are looking forward to celebrating together and sharing the experiences that brought them together.

“With Curtis’ Law passing, it’s amazing the impact,” said Wendy Strickland-Dawson, a CSSJ member. “People were crying and everything. The bottom line is, this is where healing begins and that’s why it’s called a healing vigil.”

Co-creator for the CSSJ Quincy chapter, Deborah Porter, said that the importance of the event is for people to honor themselves and to honor those lost to violent crimes. Porter hopes the event will inspire others to join in on the movement of creating healing communities that shape public policy.

“To be around people who have a common interest in what they are going through and, to be around folks and hear their story can be so impactful to them so that they are able to help others,” Porter said. “Healed people can heal others. We are coming together as a community to heal and to show that we do care. There is an organization out there fighting for victims of violent crimes.”

At the event there will be a variety of speakers from violent crime survivors telling their story to legislative officials discussing bills proposed to support victims and families of victims. There will also be entertainment, resources to assist with healing and a balloon release to honor loved ones lost to violent crimes.

Paula Smith, a CSSJ member and violent crime survivor, said this will be her first time attending the Quincy chapter’s healing vigil. However, she has attended other events by the organization and is looking forward to coming together with other survivors to share her story.

“The cool thing about CSSJ and what I like about it is as a crime survivor is, you know that you’re not alone, especially with domestic violence, but sometimes you feel so alone,” said Smith. “Then you go to a CSSJ meeting or event and when we every year go to the capitol to support whatever bills we are putting forth for change for victims’ rights, you look around and see hundreds of other people. We all have a different story, some of us are domestic violence survivors, and some of us are gun violence survivors, but you look around and you know you’re not alone.”