Abuse victim honored for courage for sparking change in California spousal-support law

Crystal Harris receives Community Hero Award

SAN DIEGO - A local woman who made a difference in the battle against domestic violence was honored Friday for her bravery.

Crystal Harris was recognized for courage by the Center for Community Solutions, and she told the hundreds in attendance, "These things are thrust upon you sometimes."

It was 5 years ago: "You're hurting my neck. My neck. okay, okay."

Five years ago, Harris secretly tape-recorded her husband at that time sexually assaulting her. The recording was evidence that helped convict him of spousal rape.

"No one wants to be the face of a spousal sexual assault or spousal rape. You cannot let injustices stand and this is where I'm able to lend a voice," Harris said.

Shawn Harris was a househusband, while Crystal earned a six-figure salary. She was ordered to pay him support after he completed a six-year prison term.

After Team 10 exposed her story, Crystal Harris won legislative support to toughen state law, prohibiting such payments when violence is involved.

"I had to be willing to speak up. Once I did speak up, it was not hard; not like doors were slammed in my face. It truly was a matter of common sense," said Harris.

Among those proud of Harris was the keynote speaker for the Community Hero Awards -- actress and Oscar winner Marlee Matlin.

Matlin, who is deaf and an abuse victim herself, told 10News through a translator, "I am a survivor of domestic violence from a past relationship before I was married and I recovered from it, for the most part -- you know how those things still linger, but it is important for me to be here to share my story."

She told how important it is to raise awareness.

"It is still a delicate issue; people don't feel comfortable facing it. Every single voice is worth being heard," she said.

Matlin pounded her fist into her palm to make her point, adding, "It doesn't feel good. It's not a good situation to be in."

Matlin just completed filming a Hollywood thriller entitled "Squatters," co-starring James Denton and Paul Sorvino.

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