Crystal Matheson, a victim of domestic violence, a beneficiary of Marsy’s Law, and now a victims’ advocate, shared her story in a short interview. She discussed her belief in God, her experiences as a crime victim in the court systems, and how the Crime Victims’ Rights Bill (Marsy’s Law) is changing victims’ lives for the better.
“My name is Crystal Matheson. I am 46 years old. I consider myself pretty ordinary. I try my best to have a good outlook on this life God has blessed me with. I work full-time as a front office receptionist. I love going to church and ministering as a worship leader. My life has had ups and downs like anyone else but the past two years took me on a path I didn't ever imagine. I never thought I would be a victim of domestic violence. But life has other plans for us sometimes. I was mentally abused, strangled, and finally shot. Things I never thought of, but now can't get away from. But I believe that God has a plan for me, and I hope that maybe I can help someone along my way.”
Q: Can you describe what it was like for you as a crime victim in the Georgia court system?
A: Being a victim in the Georgia system, at least for me, was of course somewhere I never wanted to be. But I have encountered wonderful and caring people all along the way that know their job and do it well. I felt like I was a human being and not just a case. Everyone tried their best to keep me informed and explain things so I could try to understand them (although I don't know if that's even possible for a regular person). But the point is they tried. One thing that stood out to me was the encouragement. They listened to how I felt.
Q: What did you find to be the most frustrating aspect?
A: I think the unknown. Not knowing what might happen. Nothing is ever certain, coupled with the fear and anxiety that is already there from the trauma is extremely hard mentally. Sometimes it feels like a victim has fewer rights [in a court of law as opposed to the accused who is assigned an attorney].
Q: How do you believe Marsy’s Law for Georgia is helping crime victims in the state?
A: I believe that victims should be informed when there is a movement within the correctional system whether it be from facility to facility or release. No one should ever have the possibility of coming face-to-face with their assailant out of the blue. They should always be kept informed.
Q: Do you have any words of encouragement for other crime victims?
A: I think of all the words of encouragement I have received. But if I use my own it would be to never let "give up" be an option. People may tell you you’re strong (and you are...more than you know) but you don't feel like it. Don't give up because you don't feel like it. Take the time to not feel like it ... cry, scream, pray. Whatever you need to do but don't stay there. Give it a moment but don't stay there. It doesn't mean that is the only moment you can have. Just have it and then get up! And I know it feels like you are alone at times you aren't. Try to find some way to occupy yourself and put your focus on the good things. I believe there is more good than bad. Sometimes you have to purposefully work to find it. I also believe what you feed grows. I fight every day to feed the good. Sometimes I win and sometimes I don't. The point is to keep fighting.