If you or a close friend or relative has been a crime victim, you know the pain can go beyond physical and financial injury. There is an emotional aspect to being victimized by someone else.

Victims of rape, assault and abuse deal with a range of feelings and thoughts that add to the pain.

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of victims' rights. Today starts National Crime Victims' Rights Week. This year's theme is "Victims' rights, America's values," and will be explored locally through several events.

Today, churches are urged to have a moment of silence and prayer for victims.

Monday, the community will observe Service Providers Appreciation Day, sponsored by South Georgians for Victim Justice.

Thursday, a candlelight vigil starts at 6 p.m. at the Children's Advocacy Center. All those who attend will be invited to light a candle in honor of someone they know who has been victimized. Guest speakers will include District Attorney J. David Miller; Mandy Rowe, executive director of The Haven; and Laurie Anne Bajalia, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center.

Friday, Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, sponsored by the District Attorney's Office, will be observed.

We commend the people who work daily to prosecute criminals and defend victims.

The National Center for Victims of Crime also takes this week to urge voters to push the U.S. Senate to pass the long overdue "Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act of 2003" (H.R. 3214).

This legislation would provide $1 billion to eliminate DNA evidence backlog, train law enforcement, and support sexual assault nurse examiner programs, according to the Web site for the National Center. Passage of this bill could prevent countless number of crimes and put rapists behind bars.

The Center also says it's time to eliminate the misconceptions and confusion surrounding Rape Shield Laws, and reaffirm their importance in encouraging sexual assault victims to report by protecting their privacy and dignity as well as the integrity of our criminal justice system.

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