The hidden cost of surviving gun violence

We bring you this guest post from Courtney Weaver, a local domestic violence survivor.

Photo by SevenSeven Photography
Photo by SevenSeven Photography

On January 15th, 2010 I was shot by my boyfriend point blank with a hollow-point .45. He was sentenced to 10.6 years in a federal prison in California. I have had 13 reconstructive surgeries on my face and right arm, hundreds of doctor appointments, and debt totaling at $440,605 as of May 2013. My ex, as is common with many perpetrators, has chosen not to work nor receive money while incarcerated to avoid paying restitution. This in turn has left me financially crippled and unable to rebuild my life.

One of the most insulting realities survivors like myself grapple with that most people are unaware of is how little victim compensation programs actually pay for. For instance, I was shocked and dismayed when I was left to clean up my own crime scene. Not much is more degrading than having to scrub my own dried blood off my kitchen floor 3 weeks after the shooting. Also, my landlord informed me I would have to pay for the damages caused by the bullet holes in my apartment or I would not get my security deposit back. Unfortunately that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the injustices I have faced as a survivor of such a horrific act of violence.

There is a very large discrepancy between how much compensation is allotted to a victim of a violent crime versus how much the perpetrator of that crime receives annually in state tax dollars. The numbers are very surprising and also telling of how society and the system supports the abuser while re-victimizing the victim. For example, my compensation was limited to $70,422 by the state program. The perpetrator on the other hand is given approximately $47,000 a year of tax payer dollars, $12,442 of that being in healthcare alone including mental health care. To date the taxpayers have spent over $141,000 on the man who shot me. By the time he is released in 2019 tax payers will have spent $498,000 rehabilitating this violent offender. Is his life more valuable than mine as a victim? What if victims received the same amount of financial support as the assailant?

3 thoughts on “The hidden cost of surviving gun violence”

  1. OH COURTNEY……YOURE AMAZING FOR RAISING AWARENESS THROUGH YOUR TRAGEDY…I LOVE YOU FOR THIS…ALWAYS HAVE ALWAYS WILL….THE NUMBERS ARE CRAZY!! I HAD NO IDEA….MAY YOUR WORDS AND EXPERIENCE SHED LIGHT AND BEGIN TO TURN THINGS AROUND!!!!

  2. I’ve no words for such an outrage. Geez, I didn’t know the details before, Courtney–You’re such a brave and fierce one, launching against this pervasive culture of injustice that would have broken a lesser warrior. Your relentless campaign against the worst of the worst things in life, the pain and betrayal of violence from the one you love the most, is awe-inspiring. [I could probably learn a thing or two from you about being more succinct, too :) How’ bout: Nobody does more with a raised fist than you do, doll!]

  3. Thank you for writing this! Truly shocking just how deeply flawed our country’s response to horrible tragedies when it is intimate partner violence. You are an amazing woman and I hope a ton of people read this!

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