Tricia Forbes is the Texas-based Regional Training Manager with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. She shared her story in The Hill in December 2018. You can read the full article here.
My experience as a survivor of violence is similar to that of many survivors. The first time I was raped I was in college. I was sexually assaulted twice more in my early twenties. I have struggled with panic attacks and depression, and for many years I used drugs and alcohol to cope. Now in recovery and 10 years sober, I work with other crime survivors to fight for policies that promote healing over retribution.
I have learned through my past work as a victim advocate that preventing crimes like sexual violence and creating a more humane criminal justice system are not opposing goals. They are actually mutually beneficial.
Twenty-five years ago, my work for a family violence program in Asheville, N.C., took me to halfway houses, where I spoke with women returning home from prison. Almost all of them suffered domestic or sexual violence, often times both. Their crimes were generally low-level drug offenses. This has not changed. The vast majority of incarcerated women–and a large number of incarcerated men–are themselves victims of physical or sexual abuse who need mental health services, addiction treatment, counseling, and support rather than longer prison sentences.