25th year of Crime Victims' Rights Week - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

25th year of Crime Victims' Rights Week

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - National Crime Victims' Rights Week is in its 25th year. It commemorates the signing of the Victims of Crime Act in 1984, which created a federal victims' compensation program.

Cedar Rapids police were joined by friends and family on Sunday, whose loved ones were taken or impacted by homicides and other crimes.

"Until you are the victim of a crime, you don't give it much thought," said Sharon Balvanz, whose daughter brenda was killed in October 2005. It was then she realized how difficult it was to be a victim of crime, whether directly or indirectly.

"We were not allowed to make our daughter sound personal, because that would be waiving the opinions of the jury. And that was a very difficult thing to do, because she was a person."

At age 60, Balvanz became a mother of two, adopting her daughter's two daughters. "I'm raising two children, and I'm scared to death every time they go out."

Victim Service Coordinator Linda Sorenson helps people like Balvanz all the time. She noticed new faces in the crowd for this year's event, describing it as heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

"Heartbreaking in one way, because I know there's still new victims, and yet in another way, it's good that they feel they have some place they can come for that recognition, to be validated."

After a wave of crime in Cedar Rapids during the past weeks, she knows there are more victims out there. A ripple effect, she calls it. "It's the rest of the family, it's the people in the community, friends, neighbors, everybody."

She says the biggest hurdle for victim services right now is funding.

"When funds get cut, the first thing a lot of times that get cut are advocates' wages, so they can't do the things they need to, the money they need for shelters for women, all those things."

And as the nation's economy continues to falter, she fears the rate of victimization will only rise.

"People are desperate, so they do desperate things."

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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