In my three plus decades of volunteer service to crime victims, I’m sure there have been those who think my passion is beyond healthy. However, in the scheme of things, I couldn’t be healthier with my juggling act. Yes, often it is a solitary act. But, I do have priorities such as healthy eating, personal hygiene, paying all the bills on time, showing up for work and giving my all to my clients, taking care of home chores, projects, doing laundry, make my bed every morning!
As a people person at heart, I enjoy communicating with everyone, try to plan ahead for the next chapter in South Carolina and try to get sleep, but admittedly could use more. I tend to put other’s need before my own as it gives me a sense of accomplishment when I can help others. But, I have drawn some boundaries with age. The social arena tends to be at the bottom of the list, and that’s not great, but I deal with it. Unfortunately, relaxation for relaxations’ sake, is something I can never achieve for more than an hour or so. That’s the kind of skill a future life partner could teach me, but that’s another story.
In contrast, I have met and conversed at length with a different breed of crime victim advocate. There are many law enforcement professionals who also take on pet projects in the form of cold cases. They perform their paid work, or may be retired and become consumed by a case which called to them. It often is a case they worked on previously and just can’t let go. They have promised the family they will stay with it pro bono. They may go through the motions of life, but in reality, THAT CASE is never far from the forefront of their minds. They may have to drop everything in favor of a new thought, a chance meeting, a bright idea. Weeks, months, years pass. The mundane things in life appear to fall by the wayside in favor of the next angle, the next lead. They cut off people, they may live on junk food and caffeine. They pursue every free resource available that may give them an edge in order to bring the case to the next level.
They often are the one lifeline left to family members who have entrusted valuable information, which perhaps the police have neglected or have no time to review in-depth. Trying to find other family or friends who are on the same page, who can help, is mostly an exhausting, thankless task. Perhaps other family members do not agree, have secrets of their own and view you, the dedicated one, like that pesky fly worthy only of a swat!
Although they are trained in their craft, with a cold case that spans years with little if any action, the key is often to blow off the dust, to give it new life, to rise from the ashes if you will. How does one do that, you ask? Attention from interested colleagues, writers, publishers, social media or those with something else to offer like a prolific blogger, newly published author, and national radio show host! Enter me, stage left, sometimes when it’s a good fit. At other times, as I’ve been told, it’s enough just to have someone else listen, to know the story for the sake of posterity.
Recently, I was asked by such a dedicated person about the nuances of how to tell a story, how to maintain loyalties, knowing how far to push the envelope with others. What an honor to be able to offer my opinion! It takes lots of time, measured thoughts, networking, oodles of research, perseverance, thinking out of the box, patience, the flexibility to be able to shift gears at a moment’s notice to do this kind of intense work, most of the time on a shoestring budget.
Although I prefer a broader approach to helping others, I am not here to judge how others choose to spend their time. It is very honorable to be the sole voice, the lone ranger when that’s all a victim has whose trail has gone cold. So, carry on good woman! We need thousands more like you!
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