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Heidi Ivey said she always thought of herself as a strong, independent woman. But those three words didn't shield her from becoming a victim of domestic violence. 

"It can happen to anyone," Ivey said as she shared her story of survival during the 33rd Annual Crime Victims' Rights vigil on Tuesday, April 9. 

The event, sponsored by the York County Victims' Rights Coalition, began with a march from the Colonial Courthouse down West Market Street to Trinity United Church of Christ, concluding with a candlelit vigil. One by one, attendees lit a candle in honor of a crime victim or survivor. 

As Ivey shared her story of a brutal attack by her ex-boyfriend that nearly killed her, she reminded victims it is important to speak out. 

"We may think we have small voices, but our voices need to be heard," she said. "By being here today we are all stepping up together to make noise ... to bring awareness and maybe even prevent this from happening to somebody else."  

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Sharing victims' stories can help prompt change, said District Attorney Dave Sunday. 

"The minute we forget them, their pain and suffering is for nothing," he said. 

Charlene Sciarretta, who spoke during the vigil, is using her son's story to push for policy. Sciarretta shared her story of mourning the loss of her son Danny and forgiving the man sentenced in association with Danny's death. 

In 2004, Danny died of a heroin overdose, Sciarretta said. The man he considered a friend, who was supposed to call paramedics, instead left him to die in a car, she said. 

"I began to see this defendant in a different light," she said. 

"That journey began for me in that courtroom, when I saw a young man in an orange jumpsuit turn around looking for his mom in a courtroom, and my heart broke for him. It is not my job to deny anyone forgiveness, because God loves this young man as much as he loves Danny," she said. 

Michael Duke pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in 2006 in Danny Sciarretta's death, according to court records.

Sciarretta told Danny's story to Pennsylvania state senators, who wrote and are fighting for a bill that would change the offense against Danny to a felony, she said. 

If Danny were alive, he would say he's sorry and urge others to keep fighting for change, Sciarretta said. 

"I now speak for Danny; I will be his voice because his work is not yet done," she said. 

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