National Crime Victims' Rights Week begins Sunday. Communities all around the country, including Rochester, will mark the week with events. While advocates agree we've come a long way, they also agree more needs to be done to help and protect victims of crimes.
From the crimes that make the headlines to those nobody knows about, some person, some neighborhood, some community has been affected.
According to the latest FBI numbers, violent crimes in the U.S. in 2012 were slightly up from the year before- up from an estimated 1.2 million violent crimes in 2011. Those crimes include murder, rape, robbery, and assault.
"The shooting of innocent children and their teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, firefighters here in West Webster, the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn Sate last year, and the Boston Marathon bombings show the public what we see every day: the searing impact of crime on victims and the inadequacy of the tools to meet their need," said Peggy Duffy, coordinator of Monroe County's STOP DWI program.
While laws have changed for the better, advocates say about half of all violent crimes are still not reported, and there's a long way to go to get victims the help they need.
That's why agencies across the country recognize Crime Victims' Rights week. Monroe County will hold its annual Crime Victims' Rights Walk April 27.
"All crimes are different, but you have circumstances of crimes; for example, sexual abuse types of cases where people live with it for their entire lives. It's important for us to be advocates for them, to help them, to provide whatever services or assistance we can to help them get through their ordeal," said Deputy Police Chief Mike Wood of the Rochester Police Department.
Carrie Noble is the director of Victim and Witness Services at the Monroe County District Attorney's Office. She helps families and victims navigate the complicated court system that often follows these crimes.
"My priority is always to think to myself, 'What would I do if this happened to me or happened to a family member? What would my needs be?'" asked Noble.
From the simplest thing to 'I don't know how to get downtown and I need to be there for court,' to the hugest thing like, 'I don't know how I'm going to pay for the funeral of my loved one.' We try to walk people through every step of that, to make sure they understand in simple terms, to recognize where they're at, the stress that they're under."
Wood said the Rochester Police Department has been a leader when it comes to working with victims of crime, providing advocates who step in shortly after a crime is committed.
He admits more needs to be done.
Noble does too, and both agree getting the message out about it is a good first step.
"A crime victim can be anybody. It can be me, it can be you, it can be your neighbor. It happens to everybody," Noble said.
Coalition for Crime Victims