We often follow what happens to the perpetrator in the wake of a violent crime, but seldom do we hear the victim’s story.
We’re sharing the story of a Mandan woman, and what resources are available for all victims in North Dakota.
Mandan victim Stephanie Ashley says, “I remember getting into the back of the ambulance and asking them if I was going to die.”
Things turned upside down for Stephanie Ashley after she, her 20-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter were stabbed in their home. Ashley says she invited Cortez Lyons in a couple of times prior to the incident for bible study.
On the morning of September 7th, he came over and was acting strange, so Ashley asked him to leave. Then he attacked.
Ashley explains, “I was stabbed over 20 times, and then he went out to the living room and was going to try and stab my 8-year-old granddaughter. And my daughter threw herself in front of the 8-year-old and spread her arms out. He proceeded to stab my daughter in the lungs.”
The day after the attack, Ashley was given an eviction notice. She’s now living here at the Baymont Inn with her kids until they can afford a permanent solution.
Ashley says she has received some assistance by reaching out to the Abused Adult Resource Center.
AARC Victims Services Supervisor Michelle Erickson says, “I think that a lot of the times, not only is the place they live not safe anymore, but also holds maybe some not so good memories. And so trying to find them someplace where they feel safe, whether it’s our shelter or relocating, or getting a new apartment. We’ll try to help them however we can.”
Erickson says the AARC gets referrals from both Mandan and Bismarck Police Departments daily, but many victims don’t reach out for help like Ashley has.
Erickson adds, “There’s a stigma of being a victim. I prefer even sometimes to say survivor instead of victim. And I think a lot of people don’t want to admit they ended up in a situation like that.”
Ashley says, “The reality of it is, we don’t have much money right now, you know. And if weren’t for the people helping us right now, we wouldn’t even be here, we’d probably be sleeping in a van.”
The North Dakota Department of Corrections does allow for crime victims compensation, especially in cases like the Ashleys, who have undergone multiple surgeries for their injuries.
We also spoke with Mandan Deputy Chief Lori Flaten, who told us victims are provided with a Victim’s Advocate from the State’s Attorney’s Office following any type of assault.
If anyone is interested in helping out the Ashley family, here’s the link to their Go Fund Me page: