State`s Attorney Alvarez honors victims of violent crimes - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

State`s Attorney Alvarez honors victims of violent crimes

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

There were lots of tears Tuesday night at a ceremony honoring victims of violent crimes.

Instead of reliving what happened to them, they were honored for the strength and courage they showed on the journey for justice.

Mothers who lost their sons and daughters to gun violence, women who've been raped, and a woman permanently disfigured after having acid thrown in her face were in attendance.

They all had horrible stories to share, but they also wanted to thank the people who helped them smile again after tragedy.

"We aren't different," says Esperanza Medina, a Courage Award Honoree. "We are the same and just because this happened to us doesn't mean we have to hide ourselves. We have to go on."

The Cook County State's Attorney's office gave Esperanza Medina the courage award.

5 years ago, Medina was walking to her car, headed to work one morning, when prosecutors say a jealous ex-wife, paid three teenagers to beat and burn her because Medina was living with a scorn woman's ex-husband.

While two teens kicked her, the other threw a cup of acid on her.

"I thought it was coffee and I started screaming because I felt burning and then I felt somebody hitting me in the back," Medina explains of the attack. "Then I fell and then I was trying to get up. Finally, I went down again and this boy hit me in the back with a bat and the girl dropped the rest of the sulfuric acid on my back."

Esperanza suffered second and third degree burns on her face, arms, back and chest.

"I see myself and I say, ‘yeah, I'm still beautiful," Medina says. "Older, but this is another time. This is me now."

A video helped catch and convict the teenagers who committed the crime and the two women who came up with the plan.

Medina wants to make sure what happened to her doesn't happen to anyone else. She's fighting now to keep sulfuric acid out of the hands of teens. They can't buy it, but Medina says if it's in your home, it should always be locked up.

State's Attorney Anita Alvarez says that's why Medina was awarded.

"I think it's awesome that she has that strength and courage to wanna continue to get out there and speak about what a horrific substance this can be when it's used the wrong way," Alvarez says.

Anita Alvarez says in 2010 when Medina came to the victims' rights group for counseling, healing and to begin the long journey of seeing the defendants in court, she was shy and ashamed of her appearance.

Weeks later, on the day the verdict was read, the honoree showed up in a black strapless dress with her hair down.

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