Austin group striving for safety and justice among crime victims gathers to highlight desire for change

The Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice hosted a healing vigil as part of the 5th Annual Survivors Speak Healing Vigil Day of Action.

AUSTIN, Texas — Clarence Watson does his part to bring survivors together, because he is a survivor himself. 

“I was 9-years-old when I survived a sexual assault,” said Watson.

Watson is the Co-Chapter Coordinator for the Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) in Austin, and has been using his role to advocate for others.

Watson said it took him years before he could come to terms with what happened to him. 

“A lot of shame,” Watson said.

But he persevered, and shares his story continuously, even if it touches just one person. 

“If one person hears my story and it brings them to a point to where they’re able to break out of that cocoon of trauma, then I feel like I’ve done what I’ve been placed here to do,” said Watson.

On Saturday, a healing vigil was hosted where people shared their own traumas and explained why it doesn’t define them. 

The vigil is part of of the 5th Annual Survivors Speak Healing Vigil Day of Action, and also marks the end of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Each person came together in a circle with a candle and dedicated the light to fellow survivors, and to themselves. 

“We come together and we share our stories and figure out how to heal,” said Watson.

CCSJ plans to spearhead the first Crime Survivors Speak March in Washington, D.C. in September.

Until then, they hope to urge lawmakers at the state level to pass urgent measures to help victims and implement public safety solutions.

Through their stories and unity, they are hopeful some change will be ignited.

“[To be able to] listen to somebody’s story, what they’ve been through and being able to sympathize with what they’ve gone through and be able to say, ‘I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I’m here for you if you need me,'” said Watson.

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