Story by: Claudia Coco
Victims are entering a confusing and difficult process when their case goes to court. Thanks to victim-witness coordinators and victim advocates they go into this process with a source of information and a support system.
Sherri Bradford works with victims of crime daily.
“It is so hard to be a victim, you’re taking this horrible thing that has happened to you and try to make sense of it,” said Bradford.
She’s a victim-witness coordinator for the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office.
“We deal with the victim and the witnesses, and when cases first come to this court, we answer all the questions we have. We’re the person they reach out to,” said Bradford.
She helps victims navigate the court process, and also caters to their needs when it comes to talking with attorneys.
“If we tell them, hey we have a victim, she’s upstairs she doesn’t really want to wait down here, they will work with us on letting the judge know and the defense attorneys,” said Bradford.
It’s not just witness coordinators helping victims, Bradford says it’s a team effort. Organizations like Partnership and the Family Justice Center are advocate resources for victims.
“We try to work together to make sure court is not a super scary process,” said Ruben Muriente.
Muriente is one of the interim directors at the Family Justice Center. He says they’re working with victims of domestic violence during and after the court process. They even provide free trauma counseling, and resources for legal aid.
He says they never close a case on their victims. They will even check up on them to make sure they’re alright.
“The perpetrator might years later come back into their lives and reassert themselves into the lives of the victim,” said Muriente.
Bradford also never closes the door to victims. She has a true passion to help them.
“I will have a call everyday from someone that I’ve handled their case that is over, and that is absolutely fine. I have some that I will periodically just call and check up on,” said Bradford.
She says the process isn’t easy and can take a long time, but there is support.
“It is a difficult process but there’s people to help you along the way,” said Bradford.
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