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Victims speak out against abuse

By LOURDES VAZQUEZ
April 29, 2010 at 10 p.m.
Updated April 28, 2010 at 11:29 p.m.

Cathy Miles reads a poem titled "Letting Go" that she wrote to help her cope with the sexual assault of a family member. Hope of South Texas sponsored Take Back the Night  on Thursday at Victoria Mall.

Hope of South Texas Award recipients

Child Protective ServicesLydia Hobbs

Chrissy Wagner

Victoria Police DepartmentChief Bruce Ure

Hillary Logsdon

Det. John Swenson

Det. Daniel Boots

Lt. Michael Beyer Juvenile unit

Yoakum PoliceCollin Lee Campbell

District AttorneyStephen Tyler

Assistant Criminal AttorneyJohana Stellings

Eli Garza

Brian Hroch

Arnold Haydan

Hope of South TexasBrenda Walterdorff, administrative assistant

Leticia Lechuga, crisis interventionist

Laura Kinnison, crisis interventionist

Robyn Heller

Julie Flessner, executive director

Cynthia Ramirez, forensic interviewer

Bailey Brevning, forensic interviewer

Jennifer Kelley, victim liaison

Sara Palacios, victim assistant coordinator

Also honored, but not present:

Child Protective ServicesGlenn Mutchler, investigator

Cassey Whitfield, investigator

Nikki Nagel, investigator

Kelli Wimberly, investigator

Jarlene Ross, supervisor

Sexual assault nurse examinersEster Trevino

Jennifer Mumphord

Leslie Kallys

Victoria County Sheriff's OfficeSheriff T. Michael O'Connor

Det. Jeffery Hobbs

Det. David Ruiz

Investigator Chris Barker

Investigator Angie Martinez

Assistant Criminal AttorneyVanessa Heinold

The Heart Gallery

The Heart Gallery of San Antonio, friends Bexar County Child Welfare Board, supports and provides photos of abused children who need adoption.

They are having an event in Victoria.

WHEN: Friday

TIME: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE: Victory Christian Life Center, 1607 E. Crestwood, Victoria

Hotline for abuse victims or volunteers

LOCAL: 361-573-3600

TOLL FREE: 1-800-365-7345

Cathy Miles decided she was no longer going to be a victim.

Miles, whose family member was a victim of sexual abuse, decided to speak out during the third annual Take Back the Night program on Thursday. The program was designed to bring awareness to sexual assault, sexual abuse and domestic abuse.

"The hardest part was trying to let go of it all," said Miles, who recited her own poem, "Letting Go."

The program was held to commemorate the end of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, said Julie Flessner, executive director of Hope of South Texas.

Held internationally, the event marks a movement begun 30 years ago where women decided to stand up and speak out against sexual violence, said Lt.Ralph Buentello of the Victoria Police Department.

"It was freeing," said Miles, after addressing the crowd of about 75 people.

She said that when her family member was assaulted, the family also became victims.

"It's a process what these victims go through," said Cynthia Ramirez, forensic interviewer for the Hope of South Texas.

An emphasis during the event was placed on the victims and officials who help.

"It's important that we recognize domestic violence because it affects our children," said Kindrea Briseno, investigator for the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Dana Kemper, a victim of sexual abuse, also addressed the crowd at Victoria Mall.

"I'm no longer a victim of it," said Kemper.

Flessner said she hopes this may encourage other victims to come forth.

"Sexual violence lives and breathes in darkness," said Jackie Patek, volunteer of Hope of South Texas.

Miles agreed with Patek and hopes that her speaking about her experience will help others.

"It's hard sharing your life, but if it can help anyone to free them," then it is worthwhile, said Miles, her voice trailing off.

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