SAVANNAH, Ga- They are the victims we often forget, family members of people serving prison sentences for violent crimes.
One woman tells News 3 she knows what it’s like and that’s why she’s starting a support group for people with loved ones behind bars.
Twelve years ago Charity Lee’s 4-year-old daughter was murdered—the killer? Her 13-year-old son.
She said her life lost meaning, she received very little support and spent years blaming herself. Now she’s helping others struggling with the same loss.
Ella bennet was just four years old when she was stabbed to death by her 13-year-old brother Paris.
It happened in Abilene, Texas back in 2007. Charity Lee, their mother, was at work at the time.
“It was impossible for me to take sides because they are both my children,” said Lee. “As time went on I began to realize that I was grieving for my eldest child, my son, just as much as I was grieving for Ella, my daughter.”
Paris was sentenced to 40 years in prison, the maximum sentence for a juvenile in the state of Texas.
It was through her pain that Lee found meaning in her life. She started the Ella foundation and then moved to Savannah
The move lead her to her latest venture, a support group for forgotten victims.
“No matter what side of the crime scene you’re on, you’re gonna need help because it’s traumatic and to focus on getting that help,” said Lee.
Lee teamed up with Betsy Kammerud at the Full Circle Grief and Loss Center, to bring others what she never had.
“Often time, those people don’t have access to support groups or support mechanisms and theirs a lot of stress that goes along with that,” said Kammerud.
In rooms like these Lee and Kammerud are hoping to create a safe space for forgotten victims in our community.
“When a tragedy occurs every single person involved in that tragedy whether it be the perpetrator, the victim, the families of both, the loved ones of both the community, the community that surrounds both—everyone is traumatized,” said Lee.
Forgotten victims will have their first meeting on August 22nd from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Demere Center for Living. If you’re interested in taking part you can call the Ella foundation at 912-655-8711.