Victim of violent crime encourages others to seek help

Victim of violent crime encourages others to seek help

REDDING, Calif. - This week is National Crime Victims' Rights Week. Both crime victims and people in law enforcement are working to share their stories so people realize there are resources available to help.

Many people in Shasta County know Captain LeeAnne Smith for the work she does saving animal's lives with Haven Humane Society through the city of Redding. But in 1993 she found herself fighting for her own life.

"My husband attacked me and stabbed me 14 times with a knife," said Smith. "My then 9-year-old daughter was in the house and she tried to stop him. She got in between us and literally saved my life."

Smith said the resources in the county helped her get back on her feet.

"One Safe Place has been astronomical in helping me," Smith said. "You don't realize there's issues you have to deal with, paying your bills, having to make ends meet, law enforcement."

But while the Redding Police Department says violent crimes in the area are up, victim's assistance is going down.

The Shasta County Sheriff's Office hands out two pamphlets to all victims of violent crimes.

"After we conclude our investigation we give them two packets," said Sergeant Jose Gonzalez of the Shasta County Sheriff's Office. "The first part is from the attorney general's office and it gives a lot of the national resources they can obtain. The second one is our local resources."

According to the California Victim's Compensation and Government Claims Board in 2013 there was $472,310 given for victims of violent crimes assistance in Shasta County.

In 2014, that number dropped to $357,327.

In 2015, that number was $322,530.

"It's accurate to point to the existence of the Affordable Care Act for the drop," said Mindy Fox of the California Victim's Compensation and Government Claims Board.

According to Fox, now that more people are insured they don't require as much compensation. In fact, if insurance pays for victim's assistance, such as medical bills, the board legally cannot because they are a last resort payment method.

However, Fox points out that many victims and their families don't know they can be reimbursed for co-pays.

They can also have many other costs covered such as funeral and burial costs, crime scene clean up and relocation for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.

Smith wants to tell other survivors to reach out for help.

"What really held me back from seeking help from people was the fact that I was embarrassed  that somebody who worked in my job and knew people in the community wasn't able to stand on my own two feet, in my mind," said Smith. "You just have to rise above that fear and embarrassment and reach out to somebody. They'll be there to help you."

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