Crime survivors share their stories at Mounts Botanical Gardens - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Crime survivors share their stories at Mounts Botanical Gardens

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - People from across our area are taking the time to remember victims of crime. For the first time, we're hearing from survivors and the people who helped them heal.

Their stories are hard to hear.


“He controlled the way i dressed,” said Jinette Cruz. “I couldn't wear mini skirts. He would cut them off with a scissor.”

Cruz spent 22 years with an abusive husband

“He was very smart about it,” explained Cruz. “He only hit me in the Dominican Republic. Only when we were there not in America. He knew here he could get in trouble with the law.”

17-year-old Kayla Restivo read a letter she wrote to her abuser

“When you molested me it was like the whole universe froze and i froze,” said Restivo. “I couldn't breathe.”

Seven crime victims shared some of their most painful moments at a ceremony honoring them at Mounts Botanical Gardens.

It was Tammy McCallister’s first time talking about the violence she endured for four decades.

“In those days he would hit me in places no one would see the bruises,” said McCallister.

With courage and faith, these women turned to Palm Beach County Victim Services for help.

“Seeing all that work, that pain was worth seeing them here today,” said Randee Kogan, a therapy coordinator. “Being able to share with everybody here that they did it.”

They all left the men who hurt them.

“I was divorced from that man,” said McCallister. “It was really a wonderful day of my life.”

And never looked back.

“I'm happy to say i'm not a victim anymore,” said Cruz. “I'm a survivor and strong and i'm happy.”

There was one of several events this week for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Copyright 2016 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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