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Crime Victim Advocates Honored at State Capitol

April 11th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

Crime victims and those who advocate them were honored Wednesday at the State Capitol.

Law Enforcement, crime victims and those who advocate for them gathered for the annual National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Ceremony. Guest speaker Melissa Dohme Hill was stabbed 32 times by an ex-boyfriend in 2012.

“When I opened my eyes, I knew God saved my life,” said Dohme Hill.

Melissa no longer considers herself a victim, but a “surthriver,” a term she coined for a thriving survivor.

“There is life and love and a wonderful life after abuse,” said Dohme Hill.

Awards were given to six victim advocates.

Those awarded included Orlando Police Chief John Mina, for his actions responding to the Pulse Night Club shooting.

“Chief Mina was and remains the epitome of calm in chaos,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Carl Harms was also honored for his work with victims in the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville.

“My father was killed by two drunk drivers. Two separate drunk drivers, 12 minutes apart and that was the moment that changed my life,” said Harms.

The ceremony comes as the state’s Constitution Revision Commission considers an amendment to beef up victims’ rights in the state’s constitution.

Honoree and victim advocate with Hands Across the Bay, Julie Weintraub, says those added protections would be a step in the right direction.

“We have to understand what the victims are going through and make sure that we don’t put the burden on them,” said Weintraub.

Those honored at the ceremony say every person has the ability to make a difference in a victims life, by lending an ear and support through difficult times.

The victims rights amendment, known as Marsy’s Law, is up for a final vote before the Constitution Revision Commission next week. If approved for the ballot it would need 60% voter approval in November.

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