Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians since October 2023 with bombings, shootings, and deliberate starvation. Additionally, the IDF has killed 234 aid workers and 95 journalists. This is the highest number of killings of aid workers and journalists ever recorded by a single country since global tracking began. One organization that is deliberately targeted by Israel is UNRWA, a UN agency established in 1949, which provides life-saving supplies and health care services to Palestinians in Gaza. 

In the last 6 months, the IDF has killed more than 165 UNRWA workers and bombed at least 150 UNRWA facilities. Israel also falsely accused the relief organization’s employees of terrorism, which caused at least 10 Western countries to immediately suspend their funding. Israel has never provided proof of its terror claims, and a massive international investigation concluded on April 22 there is no evidence of ties between UNRWA workers and terrorism

Despite overwhelming proof that Israel lied about UNRWA to decimate international funding and ensure its genocide of Palestinians destroys as many lives as possible, the United States still has not resumed funding.

Please consider giving to UNRWA to fight this devastating genocide, especially when our government will not.

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Ellen Halbert’s Survival & Fight for Restorative Justice


Ellen Halbert speaking about her assault in Texas

Ellen Halbert speaks about her work with restorative justice in a 2001 documentary called “Meeting with a Killer.” (Source)

June 11, 2021 ~ By Shari Rose

After surviving an attack in 1986, Ellen Halbert worked with survivors of violent crime and became an advocate for restorative justice

In 1986, an 18-year-old man broke into Ellen Halbert’s home in Texas and spent the night undetected in the attic. The following morning, Halbert’s husband left to play golf while her son spent the day at a friend’s house. As she stepped out of the shower, Halbert came face-to-face with the intruder. Her attacker wore a “ninja suit” and carried a hammer and a large knife. Halbert said in a later interview it was “the biggest knife I had ever seen.”

She told him to get out of the house, but he knocked her to the ground and tied her up. Over the following two hours, Halbert was raped, stabbed, and beaten with a hammer by her assailant. Halbert said she didn’t know how many times the man hit her in the head, but the surgeon who “put her head back together” estimated that she endured “8 to 10 areas of impact.” 

Halbert’s assailant stabbed her multiple times in the neck and chest before stabbing her in the head in a final blow. She said he had to put his foot on her head to wrench the knife out of her skull. Believing she was dead, the man escaped Halbert’s home with an $800 check he forced her to write. 

Against all odds, Ellen Halbert not only survived the vicious assault, but remained conscious enough to drag herself to the phone and call her parents. They quickly arrived at the house and called the police. Halbert’s attacker was caught later that day as he tried to cash a check he forced her to write earlier in the morning. 

Ellen Halbert’s Path to Healing 

After the brutal attack, Halbert underwent multiple extensive surgeries to repair serious wounds to her head and neck. She additionally endured a range of “stress-related illnesses” as she healed from the murder attempt.

“I had been ripped inside out in every way possible: physically, spiritually, sexually, and emotionally,” Halbert said. “I didn’t know how I could ever recover from such violence and I cried for many, many months.” 

When the case went to court, Ellen Halbert chose to testify against her attacker. At trial, prosecutors failed to charge the perpetrator with rape because she was “too sick to have a rape test” at the time of the assault, as she put it. However, the sexual assault was still brought up in court. Halbert’s assailant was found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison. 

With the court case behind her, Halbert’s road to recovery was still just beginning. As she continued to navigate the traumatic aftermath of her survival, her marriage ended and she lost her job. Eventually, Halbert connected with other crime victims and sought therapy as part of her recovery. 

“I actually wanted to come out of it stronger than I was before,” she said. “It took me a long time.”  

More stories: How Kara Robinson Outsmarted A Serial Killer

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More stories: How Lisa McVey Survived an Abduction by Bobby Joe Long

Halbert Embraces Restorative Justice for Victims of Violent Crime

Over the years, Ellen Halbert began speaking publicly about the attack, and people listened. In 1991, Texas Gov. Ann Richards appointed Halbert to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice for a six-year term. Halbert was the first (open) victim of violent crime to serve on the board. While serving, she taught herself about the justice system in Texas and potential treatments for rehabilitating sex offenders. 

In 1995, a substance abuse treatment prison for women in Burnet, TX, named its 600-bed ward the Ellen Halbert Unit. Two years later, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno presented Halbert with a National Crime Victim Service Award.

Ellen Halbert with Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez

Ellen Halbert poses with Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez after speaking with students about restorative justice in May 2017. (Source)

After her term at the Texas Board of Criminal Justice ended, Halbert became heavily involved with restorative justice for victims of violent crime in Texas. Restorative justice can take many forms, but it typically involves conversations between victims and perpetrators that are facilitated by a trained mediator. 

One of the goals of restorative justice is to give agency back to victims, allowing them space to speak with their attackers as part of a greater healing process. Additionally, another goal of restorative justice is to have offenders come to terms with the level of harm their actions have caused. 

For the last 20 years or so, Halbert has worked with a program called Bridges to Life. She and other survivors of violent crime visit with inmates across Texas and share their stories. They focus on the “victim impact,” that is, how a perpetrator’s actions have harmed not only victims, but their family, friends, and larger community. 

That being said, restorative justice is not for everyone who has experienced violent crime, as Ellen Halbert has said herself in past interviews. Every survivor’s recovery is different, and while some may benefit from a victim-offender dialogue, others may not. Furthermore, offenders must be willing to admit guilt for their crimes, something that many never truly reckon with. 

Halbert has never spoken with her assailant as part of a restorative justice process – he has denied guilt for his attack. 

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More stories: Jennifer Holliday: A Story of Survival in East Texas

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More stories: How Constance Kopp Became First Female Sheriff’s Deputy

Shari Rose

Shari Rose

Owner of Blurred Bylines💖💜💙

I created Blurred Bylines in an effort to bring stories from marginalized perspectives into the national conversation. As a former copy editor at the largest newspapers in Arizona and Colorado, I’ve seen first-hand the potential of accurate and accessible information to change minds and affect national policy. 

My stories focus on individuals fighting for justice and their own rights as Americans, survivors of violent crime who rebuilt their lives after tragedy, shifting political trends that seek to strip the LGBTQ+ community and other minority groups of their freedoms, and forgotten figures in U.S. history whose fights for equality persist today.

Through writing these articles, I stumbled upon the power of search engine optimization (SEO) to attract interested audiences to my writing. In addition to the ad-free and paywall-free stories I write at Blurred Bylines, I also perform SEO services for businesses, nonprofits, and fellow freelancers around the country so they can grow their organizations through search engines. 

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1 Comment
  1. Alyssa Shaw

    This story was told to me personally by Ms. Ellen Halbert at the unit she has in Burnet, TX. I’m so glad to read this article to know that her story is out there and her goal for the TDCJ system to change the way the state may not be providing within the prison systems. Her courage and will to live is proof of God’s hand over her to make a difference. Thank you for this article & letting her story out there! She changed my life, just as her program did.

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