Patricia Wenskunas is the founder of Crime Survivors (www.crimesurvivors.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing hope and healing to victims and survivors of crime. Her organization works to ensure that victims and survivors are protected and their rights supported by working closely with law enforcement, the judicial system and the community.
Patricia nearly died in 2002 when she was viciously attacked in her own home by someone she trusted. A personal trainer, whom she knew and trusted from her local gym, arranged to stop by her condo one day, ostensibly to help her sell Patricia Wenskunasa piece of exercise equipment. Once there, he rendered her unconscious with a pill that he claimed would help her lose weight. When Patricia came-to, she found she was undressed, with the trainer on top of her. While she struggled to get away, the trainer threatened to kill her 12-year-old son, who was not home at the time. Now enraged, the attacker attempted to suffocate her with plastic kitchen wrap. With her last surge of adrenaline, Patricia broke free but found herself with nowhere to run. With her life hanging in the balance, she she made a daring 12-foot leap from her balcony to the hard kitchen floor below. After what seemed like an eternity, she finally made it to the door. Once outside, she screamed into the street for help.
This was not to be the end of Patricia’s ordeal. What ensued was her labyrinthine journey through the criminal justice system. At times it seemed that the system was far more interested in protecting the man who attacked her than it was in securing justice for her. Equally important, it didn’t seem to care about protecting society from her attacker being released to commit additional attacks on other women. Perhaps next time, she thought, he might even be “successful” at killing one or more of them. In the end, Patricia’s attacker served all of 120 days in prison for assault with a deadly weapon and making criminal threats. The judge threw out the charges of attempted murder.
Patricia vowed to do something about the attack and its aftermath by founding Crime Survivors. Always referring to herself as a survivor – never a victim – she became a tireless advocate on behalf of those of endured situations similar her own. She does it with an optimistic tone, believing that life after a violent attack begins in one’s state of mind. A frequent public speaker on the subject, she is dedicated to the notion that with community support, respectful advocacy and hopeful healing, one can survive a violent crime, and even thrive in their personal lives.
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