VALDOSTA — Chairman Rod Casey of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners read a proclamation naming April 23-29 Victim’s Rights Week in Lowndes County at the annual Victim’s Rights Program Wednesday afternoon.

Victim’s Advocates from the Southern Judicial Circuit’s District Attorney’s Office sponsor the event to increase awareness about the devastating impact crime has on individuals, families and communities. The program also highlights the ongoing efforts of victim service providers in Valdosta and Lowndes County.

The event, held on the front lawn of the Lowndes County Courthouse, featured Brad Shealy, Chief Assistant District Attorney, as the master of ceremonies. Shealy reinforced the theme for this year’s event, “Victim’s Rights: Strength in Unity,” as he explained the necessity of putting a victim’s face in place of countless crime statistics. Shealy read off a number of staggering statistics regarding crime in the United States, but noted that however shocking the statistics are, numbers are unable to fully convey the impact of a crime on victims, their families or their friends.

“Victims give a name and face to every crime that has occurred,” Shealy said.

Shealy then introduced Terri Hundley as a face to put to the numbers and deemed her a crime survivor. Hundley told her story of the burglary and sexual assault that she fell victim to on July 23, 2002. Hundley described her struggle with her attacker, noting that she fought so hard that one of her acrylic fingernails was pulled off along with her actual thumb nail. Despite the struggle and the realization that she had become the victim of a crime, Hundley refused to let it consume her life and she offered support for anyone who has been victimized.

“Anyone who has gone through rape or sexual assault, I have to tell you, please do not blame yourself,” Hundley said.

She also encouraged victims to speak out about their situation. Hundley said she utilized some of the services offered by The Haven battered women’s shelter, but gained most of her strength from the support of her family, church members and friends.

“That’s my recovery. When I am able to talk about it I feel better each and every day,” Hundley said.

Following Hundley’s testimony, Logan Henderson from the Echols County Sheriff’s Office presented this year’s Lynn Futch Blocker Memorial Award to Jason Sunday, a detective with the Valdosta Police Department. Henderson was last year’s recipient of the award, which is given each year to a law enforcement professional in recognition and appreciation for dedication to duty, professional standards and genuine compassion for victims of crime in this area. Sunday accepted the award by saying, “(Law enforcement) is what I was put on this earth to do and I do the best I can do at it.”

Hundley thanked Sunday for his hard work and continued support as the detective who worked on her case in 2002.

The event concluded with a lunch inside the lobby of the county courthouse.

For information of crime victims’ rights and services or to volunteer for victims of crime, call 229-244-7170.

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