Hundreds of people in New Iberia rallied around crime victims and their families Tuesday for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
The group hosting the event is called VOICE, which stands for Voices of Innocent Citizens Empowered. VOICE is a support group for families of innocent victims of crimes or survivors of crimes.
Group members say when you lose a loved one in a sudden and violent manner, it can seem like no one understands.
"For our family, it was tragic because we were a very close-knit family. I used to tell people all the time, my brother was kind of the right arm of our family. He was the foundation," says Lisa Duhon, a VOICE member.
Catalene Theriot lost a loved one too when her son was murdered in 1994. This is when she saw the need for a support group.
"Every time I would hear about a murder I’d call that family, let them know they’re not alone, that I’ve been through it. It was myself and two ladies, they both lost loved ones and we got together then we saw a need for a support group and that’s how VOICE got started," says Theriot.
"It just makes you like a part of a family because other people here have experienced a death to their loved one also, so you just become a big family," says Duhon.
In the group’s fifteen years, much has been accomplished lobbying for crime victims’ rights and finding peace in a shared experience.
"One of the greatest fears is that people will forget your loved one, so this is an opportunity for people to come, say their loved one’s name, the day they died, and how they actually died, and other people at that time will remember who your loved one is," says Duhon.
There were a few speakers and a balloon release, honoring lost victims as well as survivors of crimes.