Crime victims hold vigil to honor loved ones they've lost

To mark the end of National Crime Victims Week, victims of violence and their families held a vigil Saturday night in east Austin to remember those they have lost.

Shelia Matthews stood in a circle of people who all had similar stories each one facing pain brought on by violence.

"I do a lot of praying I do a lot of crying I think about the good times that I had with them and in the back of my mind I still wonder why would you take that person's life," Matthews said.

Matthews was 22 when her uncle Harold Gene Carter was killed during a robbery in north Austin. The incident happened back in the summer of 1991; her uncle's case has since grown cold.

"He was the nicest person you will ever know he would give you anything that you asked so to know that someone took his life like that it was, it was hard," said Matthews.

The pain of her uncle's unsolved case still lingers. She witnessed violence claim her nephews life years later. Now Matthews finds refuge in her faith and the support of others.

Matthews also joined an organization called Crime Survivors Safety and Justice. Tricia Forbes, Regional Training Manager said the group advocates for victims’ rights and rehabilitation.  

"I hear over and over that people either didn't know about the services available to them or for those who did know didn't know how to access those or it was too cumbersome,” Forbes said. "What we all want is safety, we want for the things that have happened to us not to happen to other people and the best way to do that is through trauma recovery, healing prevention and treatment."

In honor of national victims’ rights week, supporters lit candles and shared their stories inside the Servant Church. Each person was yearning to be heard praying the cycle of violence will be broken.

"If there is anyone out there who is going through this who's a survivor, don't be afraid to speak up, this is the time for us to speak up and speak out and make things happen," Matthews said.