April 2-8 is National Crime Victims Rights Week. Established by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, communities across the United States observe this week to consider the plight of the victim, and to show support for them.
When you are a victim of crime, your life is totally upended. Many times there are physical consequences that must be overcome- on top of the always present grieving process that has to occur after a victimization. Restoring a shattered life is hard and time consuming and made more difficult because all the pain was caused by someone’s selfish and cruel motivations. The victim’s trust is totally compromised. The emotional rush is powerful and unrelenting. Fear and anger play tug of war with the psyche in every waking moment. There’s no reprieve from the torment. Even in sleep, the violence, pain, and grief re-play in nightmares. It feels like insanity, with no hope for escape. And then there is the justice system.
Most people have no idea the frustrations victims face in trying to obtain justice. From legal maneuvering by defense attorneys that re-victimize the victim to the endless delays in bringing the case to trial, some victims are “lucky” if they get through the system in 2 years. Other victims are suspended in limbo for years longer, like the victim in the Vanderbilt rape case who was victimized in 2013. She has endured two trials, is scheduled for another, and still has other offenders charged but no trial dates set…yet. Or the family of Brooke Morris in Roan County who waited 5 years to finally go to trial. Or victims like Gail Chilton, a mom who is struggling to see justice for her daughter who was murdered in 1996! And, after the victims finally receive their trials? Assuming there is a conviction, they now deal with the parole system where they will have very little rights. Victims have made some gains for considerations in the justice process over the years, but the system still holds many inequalities. The fight is far from over as each year advocates for justice are forced to work tirelessly to get “common sense” victim bills passed. Thankfully, President Reagan acknowledged this struggle and set aside a week each year to remember victims on a National level.
Victims should have rights. After all, THEY are the INJURED party. It is their life that was destroyed. They didn’t choose this cruel path, it was forced on them. We all should be concerned about their injustices, as our world grows more violent with each passing day. In reality, we are not immune to experiencing the same kind of injustice.
National Crime Victims Rights week events are being held across Tennessee. All are welcomed as these events are open to the public.
On Sunday April 2nd at 2:00, Nashville Advocates will gather at the large pavilion in Centennial Park near the train and airplane to acknowledge and honor the strength of victims of crime. This ceremony will feature survivors sharing their stories of empowerment.
From Friday, March 31st to Sunday, April 9th, the Homicide Boards for Davidson County will be on display at the Downtown Nashville Public Library. These boards will be located on the 3rd floor during normal operating hours. Validated parking is available in the parking deck attached to the library.
Additionally, the Tennessee Board of Parole along with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Department of Correction, and TRICOR will be hosting Tree Planting Ceremonies throughout the state during the week. Click the link below for additional information about these ceremonies in your area.
If you know of other ceremonies in your area in honor of Crime Victims’ Rights Week, please leave the information about them in the comment section below and feel free to share this blog so everyone can have the opportunity to support victims during this important week.
Written By: Verna Wyatt, Co-Founder, Tennessee Voices For Victims firstname.lastname@example.org