Story by: Joseph Ostapiuk

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Over 100 Staten Islanders gathered at the Regina M. McGinn Educational Center at Staten Island University Hospital in Ocean Breeze Thursday for the 25th Crime Victims’ Rights Week Candlelight Vigil.

The event, organized by Safe Horizon, NYC Family Justice Center and the office of Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon, is centered around remembering and honoring the victims of violence and crime.

“We serve and honor the victims of crime every day through our work in our office,” McMahon said at the event. “And, joining together in one voice here tonight we create hope for all of those who will come after us.”

McMahon, who was wearing a purple tie at the event, commented that attendees were wearing purple “In honor of Jeanine Cammarata, the young lady who was killed last week in a brutal and horrible act of violence that grew out of domestic violence, as we intend to prove in court someday soon.”

Several speakers at the event who were victims or survivors of crime addressed the audience with poignant words about their experiences.

Katherine R., whose last name is omitted due to privacy concerns, said that she endured physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her boyfriend beginning in July 2009. That’s when “my nightmare started,” she said.

Katherine R. said her boyfriend made “every abuse after that day worse than the one before.” She eventually “made the decision that enough is enough,” she said. In September 2009, when she reported the repeated incidents in a Brooklyn police station, she said.

In January 2011, her boyfriend was sentenced to 12 years in prison, she said.

Mary Ann and Charlie Edkins, whose 18-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driveron Jan. 10, 2006, spoke of their journey towards overcoming a tragic loss.

“The shock of Mariana being killed was severe, and they should’ve written an autopsy report for me and our family also because in a major way we all died that night,” Mary Ann Edkins said.

In 2011, Mary Ann Edkins said she felt the need to “have purpose” in her life, and began speaking of her experience at various events.

Through the act of sharing their experience, she said “we have gained a sense of peace and hope that Mariana did not die in vain, that she still lives in a way.”

The event is held as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. On Monday, McMahon dedicated a garden in St. Georgein honor of the victims of crime on Staten Island.

Counselors were also present at the vigil to aid victims.

Representatives from the mayor’s office and the office of Congressman Max Rose were in attendance Thursday.

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