Shooting victim's story shows financial strain on victims - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Shooting victim's story highlights larger issue of crime victims' financial strain


MADISON (WKOW) -- The recovery story of the surviving victim of a deadly shooting outside a Mauston bar sheds light on a larger problem among crime victims.

Ebony Lasher, 23, spoke exclusively with 27 News this week about how her life has changed forever after police say Cody Treul, 29, shot her and her friend Gail Howland on May 31.
Lasher was instantly paralyzed from the chest down by the first shot, the second she couldn't feel. Howland was killed. Lasher says the bullet severed her spinal cord and she'll never walk again, but she's working hard to regain the strength she's lost in the past month and learning to adapt to her new life. 
"I had dreams for my life and when [Treul shot me] he took a lot of my dreams away," Lasher says. "I think that's hard to live with, you know, I wanted to do a lot of things and I can't anymore."
That new life will come with expenses Lasher says she can't afford. She and her mother Pam Kissner both lost their jobs spending the month in the hospital, and are now working to find a place to live when Lasher is released on July 17, but the two say they don't have the money. 
"We do not have housing at this point. We've both been displaced we have to be together," says Kissner, who will be Lasher's caregiver. "I'm a certified nursing assistant; I never thought 20 years ago when I got my license it was going to be to take care of one of my own children."
Crime victim advocates say the financial costs of violence are a drain on victims and the community. Every year in the U.S., crime victims face billions in medical bills and lost wages.
"When you think about the medical bills and the lost productivity and the counseling that victims often need for many, many years after the incident," says Tony Gibart, with the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "It's significant and something we need to understand as an impact of crime and violence in our communities."
There are resources out there for crime victims, like the Wisconsin Department of Justice Office of Crime Victim Services. Family members and victims of violent crimes can apply for compensation to pay for expenses from crimes that caused injury or death. The fund covers medical, dental and prescription expenses, mental health counseling, lost wages, and more, but only up to $40,000.
In many cases, $40,000 may not be enough to even cover medical costs of a long hospital stay and continued treatment. 
Other resources include disability insurance and transitional housing programs offered through domestic violence or homelessness agencies, but unfortunately Gibart says those resources are also limited.
Some crime victims can get restitution as part of a sentence for the guilty party convicted in the incident. Although, that process could take more than a year in many cases, and victims financial needs are often immediate.
That's what Lasher and her mother are learning as they search for help. Now, they're asking for any help from the community. Kissner has set up a fundraiser online to help them pay for a place to live once Lasher is released. 


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