By: Tiffany Lewis | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 13, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Florida crime survivors marched and rallied at the State Capitol on Tuesday, hoping to influence policy change.
They shared stories of heartache and gave each other a safe space to talk.
"My son was murdered in 2006," said Miami resident Queen Brown, "I still have the crime scene tape that they put around his body. I have his arm band from the hospital when he was born and I have this tape from when he left us."
The survivors hope that through their stories, they can influence legislative change for future victims.
"We deploy law enforcement to apprehend the perpetrator, but we don't deploy therapists and healers and counselors to help people heal from the after affect of the violence," said Survivor Speaks co-founder Aqeela Sherrills.
In fact, it took Brown nine months and a chance encounter to even hear about available services after her son's death.
"I was at his grave and he didn't even have a tombstone, just a patch of dirt where I would go sit everyday," Brown said, "And another mother who was visiting her son asked where my son's tombstone was. That's when she told me about the available resources."
But for Brown, the help unfortunately came too late.
"Once I filled out the paperwork and it went through, they told me I had missed my window," Brown said, "In Florida, you only have a year to get services after a family member's death. We need to change that."
Others, like Tallahassee resident Doris Strong, received the services more quickly, but still fight for those who didn't.
"I fortunately knew about the services after my father's murder and used them," Strong said, "But, there's other people that I've heard that didn't get some of the services I got as quick as I did and that's why I want to be a part of the crime survivors."
For more information on the organization, click here.