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Rape crisis counselor honored for work with crime victims

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 April 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Christi Waldron, a rape crisis counselor with RESTORE, addresses the crowd at a crime victims’ rights gathering Friday night at the Orleans County Courthouse. Waldron was presented with the 16th annual Milford Phinney Victim Advocate Award.

Orleans County First Assistant District Attorney Susan Howard, left, presents Christi Waldron with the Milford Phinney Victim Advocate Award. The late Phinney was an assistant DA.

RESTORE, which was previously called Rape Crisis Service, displayed T-shirts made by victims of sexual assault.

ALBION – Christi Waldron has earned a reputation as a passionate advocate for victims of sexual assault in Orleans County.

Waldron, a rape crisis counselor with RESTORE the past 2 1/2 years, often speaks on behalf of victims with the district’s attorney office, will help them get needed medical care and sometimes will just sit quietly by them during a court appearance.

“She brings a lot of energy and passion to her job,” said Susan Howard, the first assistant district attorney for Orleans County.

She presented Waldon with the Milford Phinney Victim Advocate Award during a crime victims’ rally on Friday evening at the Orleans County Courthouse.

Waldon works with rape and sexual assault victims in Orleans County and also in Brockport.  She worked with 51 clients in 2013, including 16 children abused sexually, 12 adults abused sexually and four adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

Seventeen of the cases involved in criminal charges with seven resulting in convictions. Waldon said sexual assaults largely go unreported.

“We live in a culture that still blames victims of sexual violence,” Waldron said when she accepted her award. “A culture that says these acts are somehow a result of the victim not being careful enough, or too drunk, or dressed inappropriately. Rarely is the focus ever on the perpetrator.”

Waldron said some schools only educate girls about sexual violence. Men are affected by the crime as well.

“Sexual violence affects most everyone at some point in their lives,” she said. “This is everyone’s problem.”

She participated in 25 community education programs and connected with 1,300 people through outreach events in 2013. Cultural norms need to change to reduce sexual assaults, she said.

Waldron thanked other agencies and staff for working with crime victims. She said she is committed to her job and seeing a change in society.

“I do this in hopes that one day the culture will change and the myths about sexual violence and blaming will disappear,” she said. “But most importantly I do this for the victims who feel they don’t have a voice or any options when something like this happens.”

Friday’s event at the courthouse culminated Crime Victims’ Rights Week in the county.

Howard said the week is empowering for those who work in the criminal justice system.

“We gather to give ourselves energy to get through the difficult things we have to deal with,” Howard told the group.