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Groups Spotlight Services for LGBTQ+ Victims of Crime in MI

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022   

It's National Crime Victims' Rights Week, a time to raise awareness of victims' rights and services.

Equality Michigan is holding three community resource fairs this week in Bay City, Grand Rapids and the Detroit Metro Area, geared toward LGBTQ+ and HIV-affected communities experiencing violence, discrimination or harassment.

Serena Johnson, director of victims services for Equality Michigan, works to provide equitable, culturally appropriate and gender-affirming support to LGBTQ+ victims of crimes.

"We will be providing resources, tangible resources, free resources, for support for our victims," Johnson outlined. "And just to note, justice means something different to everybody. So it's not just one size fits all."

She pointed out the resource fairs will include a variety of community partners, so attendees can see the range of services available.

According to the U.S. Office for Victims of Crime, it is still a struggle to ensure survivors receive case notifications and updates on their options within the criminal justice system, and those in underserved communities who experience crime are often unaware support is available, or even compensation.

Johnson added justice can take various forms for victims of crimes, and it is important to take it into account.

"I've learned by going across the state of Michigan and sitting in different courtrooms that even with us being under the same state of Michigan criminal justice system, the approaches are very different," Johnson observed. "I think that what is most important is that person-centered awareness and support is necessary."

She noted there is a growing awareness of the need for person-centered approaches, both for victims and offenders. She stressed it is important for the criminal justice system to view everyone as a person to reduce recidivism and support victims equitably.


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