EL CENTRO, Calif. – You’ve just been the victim of a crime. What’s going through your mind?
Kimberly Gustafson, Imperial County District Attorney’s Office, says it’s a very difficult moment.
“In a state of crisis, they’ve just have something very dramatic happen to them, so they’re confused, they’re traumatized, they don’t know what the next step is.”
Gustafson says victims need a lot of help, “When you’re victimized you don’t know what the next steps are and most people don’t know what goes on in the judicial process.”
The Victim’s Rights Week 5K Run took place this Saturday morning in at Southwest High School to recognize that need. And to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Imperial County victim-witness program. Over 50 supporters came out to brave the 12 laps around the track.
Sandra Ochoa, from El Centro, supported the event because she says crime can happen to anybody, even her.
“If I were to be the victim then I would want somebody to help me and I want to be able to help somebody else,” says Ochoa.
Imperial resident, Rocio Ramirez says she wants people to be free of abuse, “Be able to live in a safe environment free of any victimization.”
Social worker Julie Montano says she knows the look on a victim’s face. It’s one of deep sadness.
Gustafson says the victim witness program served over 700 last year.
“Court orientations so just explaining the whole judicial process to a victim, providing them with updates on their case, transportation to and from court if they don’t have it and the main thing is helping them apply for the victims compensation fund that is a state funded program and that program can reimburse medical bills, provide counseling.”