Every year, spring brings with it an awareness of new life, rebirth, and hope. Coming out of an often cold and dreary winter, spring reminds us that there is warmth, hope, and light on the other side. It’s fitting then that spring brings with it the observance of Crime Victims’ Rights week. Every April, the nation stops to recognize people whose lives have been forever changed by a crime.
As a newcomer to Empire Justice Center, working as the Program and Marketing Manager for the Crime Victims Legal Network, I have learned that there is life after victimization, especially when victims receive the right support. Prior to joining Empire Justice Center, I worked in the field of education as an English and Special Education Teacher. During my time there I saw firsthand what victims of crime often face. Education is said to be a tool of liberation and at times I found this to be true. However, there were times when even the best lesson, expertly planned, couldn’t touch the real life consequences and traumas that victims face after experiencing a crime.
What called me to this position was the opportunity to empower others through the resources we offer on our website, NY Crime Victims Legal Help. Since starting I have begun the journey of educating myself on the history of crime victims’ rights. What has caught me the most off guard is the sheer number of victims who never report what has happened to them. Whether this is due to language barriers, fear of retaliation, or the complexities of our legal system; there are people who need help and face significant barriers when navigating their way to the resources that they need.
In my role, I hope to bring more awareness to the resources that are available to victims of crime on NY Crime Victims Legal Help. These resources reassure me that victims will no longer have to navigate the consequences of their victimization alone. I envision individuals across the state accessing the site and being connected with both legal and non-legal resources that reinforce and protect their rights. Ultimately, we hope the website will provide access to services that help victims manage all the ways their victimization has changed their lives.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic may feel like an extension of winter, the Crime Victims Legal Network has not forgotten our duty to advocate for everyone to have wholeness, peace, and life. We have resources on our website that address civil legal issues impacted by COVID-19, including access to courts, help with financial matters, and employment issues. In these uncertain and ever changing times, let us hold onto the hope that spring brings and let it remind us of our connection to one another.
*For more information about the Crime Victims Legal Network, please see crimevictimshelpny.org
This was produced under Grant No. 2014-XV-BX-K009, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this product are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.