Student Saraliz Maldonado Receives Victim Rights Leadership Award

April 05, 2017

Saraliz MaldonadoWheelock student Saraliz Maldonado received the Future Leaders Award from the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) as part of the 2017 Victim Rights Month Awards Ceremony at the Massachusetts State House on April 3, 2017.

At the ceremony, Attorney General Maura Healey and MOVA recognized those who have contributed to victim services and rights, as part of Victim Rights Month which is observed in April.

According to a news release issued by MOVA:

The Future Leaders Award was created to recognize students who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in raising awareness of crime or victim related issues in their community.

Ms. Sara Maldonado, a student at Wheelock College, received this year's award for her work with the Now You See exhibit to raise public awareness of child sexual abuse in Massachusetts.

Now You See, started by Jackie Lamont, a forensic interviewer in the Suffolk District Attorney's Office, is a collection of photographs of young survivors' eyes with their stories and messages of resilience—letting other survivors know they are not alone and that help is available. Now You See has been displayed in courts, Child Advocacy Centers (CAC), Massachusetts State House, and other public venues throughout the state.

At the age of 15, Sara was the first survivor to be photographed and share her story in the exhibit. She now serves as a "survivor leader" with the program to help other survivors who participate. Sara attends and presents at every Now You See Bravery Celebration, which honors new sexual assault survivors and participates in their varying awareness events.

Sara also participates in other awareness events in the greater Boston area, recently presenting to policymakers at the State House on the importance of CAC services and the Suffolk CAC's Ginormous Climb to raise money for families impacted by sexual abuse.

"Sara's journey has been a remarkable one. She survived traumatic childhood abuse, withstood the challenges of the criminal justice system, and has become a voice for all people affected by abuse and violence", said Jackie Lamont of the Suffolk DA's Office. "She is a true role model who has shown how much impact one voice can have on a community and has already made a significant difference in this world. She inspires me every day."

"During Victim Rights Month we have an opportunity to recognize those who help some of the most vulnerable and innocent among us. These individuals provide critical services to victims, and we are proud of the work they do in our communities," said Attorney General Maura Healey.

"Sara's courage to share her story of sexual assault and support other survivors in their recovery is truly inspirational," said Liam Lowney, MOVA's Executive Director. "In addition to being a full time student, Sara raises awareness of sexual abuse to ensure everyone understands the impact supportive services can have in a survivor's recovery. Sara exemplifies resiliency and her leadership will continue to impact survivors of sexual violence."

Maldonado is working toward a bachelor's degree in the dual major of Human Development/Developmental Psychology and Early Childhood (B-5 Specialist/PreK-K Focus), with an anticipated graduation date of Fall 2017.

To learn more about Victim Rights Month or this year's recipients, please visit mass.gov/mova or call 617-586-1354.

For more information on Now You See, visit the Suffolk County District Attorney's web site.

Photo Caption: Saraliz Maldonado shared her story at Wheelock in April 2016.

In 2016, the Boston Herald interviewed Maldonado about being honored at the Suffolk District Attorney's 2016 Now You See Bravery awards at City Hall: Watch the 2016 interview

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