Healing the Hurt

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Statistically, Meridian is one of Mississippi's safest cities. Most violent crimes in the Queen City are related to domestic violence. However someone is victimized, there are many people waiting to help pick up the pieces. Those helpers met at the Wesley House to honor those affected by violent crime.

"When they are victimized, they stop. Mentally and physically they slow down. All of the pieces of their lives are thrown into the air and fall at will," said Ginger Stevens of Wesley House.

These members of the Meridian community work together to help crime victims heal the physical and emotional scars that violence can create. Each person has a different job to do, from pastors to law enforcement, where everyone helps and the wounds get healed.

"Places like Wesley House, MADD, Hope Village, all of these that help victims," said Stephanie Denham, who helped found the local MADD chapter.

Denham's daughter, Lorien, died at the hand of a drunk driver 12 years ago.

"It's wonderful to come into a room of DUI or incest survivors, and to know it's where people understand," Denham said.

One of the key words used at the tribute was survivor. Victims become survivors when they get help and decide they will live on.

"You never stop feeling the hurt, but you have to be strong and go on because if you're a good example, you can help somebody," said Frances Washington, whose son Lenny was gunned down on a Meridian street in 2000.

Churches opened Wednesday night for an informal prayer vigil for an end to violence.