Introduction: Two Stories
In 1985, Ralph Hubbard's 23-year-old son was shot and killed in New York City. After years of feeling angry, frustrated and powerless, Hubbard resolved to help other families work through their suffering. In a Victim Services support group for families of homicide victims in New York, he began to speak out, telling his family's story to the police, criminal justice officials, social service providers, and the public. He found that telling others what his family had gone through helped him cope with his pain and anger and inspired other victims to address their feelings. He started a self-help group for men who had lost family members to violence. He also became an adviser to New York's Crime Victims' Board, vice president of Justice For All, a victims' rights advocacy group, and a board member of the National Organization for Victim Assistance. A leading spokesperson for victims' rights in New York State, Hubbard feels no less compelled to be an advocate for victims ten years after his son's murder: "It's something I need to do. This is therapeutic for me."
Survivors from the 1993 Long Island Railroad massacre were determined to prevent similar atrocities from happening to others. Colin Ferguson's shooting spree transformed a number of those who were either on the train or lost family members into outspoken advocates for gun control and victims' rights. Today, they speak at vigils, rallies, on television talk shows, and with legislators about the personal impact of the event, and they lobby for a ban on assault weapons, including the model used in the shooting. Tom McDermott, who was on the train that evening, believes he was spared in order to join the fight against gun violence. "I'm a radical now," he often says. "I'm a radical for the safety of us all."1
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