From the Courier-Journal
Survivors of sexual assault are often asked to tell their stories. Asking for their advice is more unusual.
That’s why Clorissa Novak, a 28-year-old from Louisville, decided to take part in a new initiative Attorney General Andy Beshear has launched that invites the victims of serious crimes to weigh in on important issues.
Beshear just formed a “Survivors Council” – comprised of people like Novak who have survived sexual assault as well as people who have lost loved ones to violence – to advise his office on how to better support crime victims in Kentucky.
“I thought it was a really good idea to actually ask (survivors), ‘What would’ve helped you?’ ” Novak said. “I think it’ll help with the stigma.”
Novak would like to see the council work on helping get more crime victims to attend and offer their expertise at training sessions for people who work in a variety of fields.
The Survivors Council, which Beshear announced Monday afternoon, includes sexual assault survivors like Novak as well as people who have experienced domestic abuse or lost a child to gun violence. The 27-member council will meet quarterly and focus on issues that impact crime victims.
“They fight for others because they know just how hard that fight is,” Beshear said of the council’s inaugural members. “They fight for us all, for each of us, because each member of our families could also be the victim of a crime.
“They are the voice of the lost and the lonely, the left behind,” he said.
No other attorney general in the country has established a board like this one, Beshear’s office said in a news release. The U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking was an inspiration for Kentucky’s fledgling Survivors Council.
Theresa Martinez of Louisville lost her 23-year-old daughter, Ashley, when a drunken driver hit her on Hurstbourne Parkway in 2012.
“She is my inspiration,” Martinez said of Ashley. “He walked away with a broken leg and my daughter died from a severed brain stem.”
This council is bringing people who’ve dealt with different kinds of violence together, she said. Their experiences may vary, but they’re all fighting for the same cause.