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Donna Ferres

2005 Volunteer for Victims Award | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards

Donna Ferres | Volunteer for Victims Award
Lee County Rape Crisis Center
Fort Myers, Florida

In 1979, working nights at a convenience store in Maryland to put herself through college, Donna Ferres was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, brutally beaten, stabbed multiple times, and left for dead. She fought her way through the woods seeking help and her life was saved. 

Ferres' perpetrator was caught after he confessed to a friend, "I think I killed a girl last night." The District Attorney was set to plea bargain the case, eliminating the sexual assault and kidnapping charges. Ferres was informed, and while still emotionally and physically injured, traveled alone to his office to "put a face on the victim" and demand that no charges be dropped so that the maximum sentence could be imposed. 

Her attacker was sentenced to two life terms plus 60 years. Unfortunately, he comes up for parole every five years. Ferres mobilized letter writing campaigns to the Maryland Parole Board on behalf of herself and other crime victims to ensure that her attacker would remain incarcerated. 

In 1998, Ferres published Undying Will: A True Story of How One Woman Survived a Brutal Rape and Near Murder to Bring her Attacker to Justice. That same year, she became involved in the Lee County Rape Crisis Center in Florida as a volunteer victim advocate. Ferres has spent countless hours advocating for the rights of victims that she assists. Although the work takes a toll on Ferres because of her past, she never hesitates to give of herself fully. 

Ferres has received the Survivor Activist Award from the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence and has earned the Florida Attorney General's Designated Victim Advocate Certificate. In addition, she educates victims about sexual assault. 

Ferres was nominated by Dr. Roxann Sangiacomo.