CLEARFIELD – April 13 through 19 is Victim’s Rights Awareness Week. This year’s theme is ‘Justice for victims, justice for all.’
County Victim/Witness programs provide a variety of services to victims of crimes. These include advocacy, keeping a victim aware of the current status of their case, among others.
Recent Clearfield County Victim/Witness Office intern Shelly Reed is familiar with both being a victim and working for their rights.
Reed was a victim of domestic violence in another county in 2003. She worked in a factory and lived with her two boys and her ex-boyfriend.
She related that her then-boyfriend strangled her. Reed said that she was unconscious for around eight hours. She was found by her sons.
Reed said that she had no memory of what happened. She said she felt sick and could hardly swallow, which led her to believe that she had been poisoned. Toxicology tests revealed that was not the case.
Reed said that as she tried to get up from the gurney she was on, she fell. She further related that she showed stroke-like symptoms with paralyzation on her left side.
What doctors found was that Reed had anoxic brain injury with stroke like affects due to a lack of oxygen.
“It was just like a stroke,” said Reed.
She stayed in the hospital for a time then went through rehabilitation before moving in with her parents for a time.
Reed’s ex-boyfriend was charged with attempted homicide and aggravated assault. She said the morning of the trial she was informed that he was entering a guilty plea. Reed said that she was not happy with this, but the guilty plea went through anyway; he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
Reed said that she never got the chance to read her victim impact statement to the judge, which she had intended to do.
He got four-10 years in prison.
Reed thought she could eventually go back to work in the factory but she never recovered the manual dexterity needed in her left hand.
“It was tough, financially,” said Reed. “I thought I was going to lose everything.”
She learned from her victim advocate of a victim compensation program.
“Thankfully Pennsylvania has a victim compensation program,” said Reed.
She found that she was also eligible for social security benefits.
Around this time Reed decided to go back to school and enrolled in Penn State DuBois.
She decided that she wanted to help people. Initially she wanted to be a nurse, but because of her hand, could not. After meeting with a counselor at the university, Reed decided on community human services.
Reed said related that crimes and the impacts they have on people are different. She said that she can never say to someone that she knows how they feel.
“But I can relate to that sense of loss,” said Reed.
She said her experience in Clearfield County’s Victim//Witness program has been wonderful, and said that everyone in the program are wonderful people. Reed said that she has learned a lot from Victim/Witness Coordinator Judy Shirey.
“I’m no longer a victim,” said Reed. “I’m a survivor now.”
“It feels so good … going from being helpless to empowering people.”