WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s sexual assault awareness month and national crime victims’ rights week. Thursday night dozens gathered for a solemn ceremony to honor local victims of crime and their families.

Melody Bartusek’s brother Bryan Kocis was murdered on January 24, 2007. Thursday, she shared her family’s story in front of a crowd of community members at the Luzerne County Courthouse.

“It means a lot for me because my brother was such a huge part of our lives and we loved him dearly. I finally feel free to be able to talk about it and move through the pain and be able to accept that he’s still with me, just not the way I want him to be, but he’s still here,” said Melody Bartusek, Newport Township.

Her speech was part of the ‘Start Believing Rally’ put on by the victim’s resource center. This organization provides free, confidential services for victims of all crimes and their loved ones.

Bartusek says the darkest days of her life were aided by advocates at the center, following the loss of her brother.

“I needed help, and they were there to listen, understand and care and that is so invaluable to somebody who really needs comfort and support,” said Bartusek.

Solemn support could be felt throughout the rotunda as Amazing Grace was performed on the bagpipes in memory of all local lives lost that will never be forgotten.

“It’s really important because we have to remember that just because the crime or the story isn’t in the headlines anymore, we still have an impact on victims and their families and their lives,” said Suzanne Beck, CEO, Victim’s Resource Center.

Statistics show that many sexual assault victims never come forward or report the crime. The global Start by Believing campaign encourages everyone to treat victims with care and consideration.

“All you’ve got to say is ‘I believe you, how can I help you,” Beck stated.

The Victim’s Resource Center is committed to helping men, women, and children. It has three offices in our region in Luzerne, Carbon, and Wyoming Counties that you can call 24-hours a day, 7-days a week for help.