“A right is not what someone gives you; it’s what no one can take from you.” — Ramsey Clark
Each year 18.7 million Americans are directly harmed by crime — and this statistic doesn’t include the countless number of family, friends and co-workers who are also impacted by these tragedies.
Yesterday marked the beginning of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week (April 21-27). Since 1981, the Office for Victims of Crime has dedicated this week to promoting victims’ rights and honoring both victims and those who advocate on their behalf. This year’s theme is “New Challenges. New Solutions” which focuses on OVC’s initiative, “Transforming Victim Services.”
As a national organization committed to ending domestic violence, this is a crucial week for us to reflect upon and think about victims of these and other crimes. Each day we advocate for victim’s rights, and there has been great progress made. It was only last month that we saw the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, with new provisions extending the protection of Native American women and members of the LGBT community.
Still, it only takes a quick look around us — in the media, at our congressional hearings, in everyday dialogue — to see that challenges remain. According to OVC, about 50% of violent crimes are not reported, and only a fraction of victims receive the help they need. Domestic violence remains one of the most underreported crimes, for various reasons. Every day we speak to victims who are in fear of being deported, losing custody of their children, becoming financially unstable, or not being believed. Victims’ rights are not all equal, and often go unenforced or ignored.
As demonstrated through this national week of recognition each year, conversation and collaboration is necessary for further change.
Domestic Violence Is a Crime
In 2010, violent crimes by intimate partners totaled 509,230 — 13% of all violent crimes. Of female murder victims in 2010, 38% were killed by a husband or boyfriend. Sixty four percent of female victims experienced violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
If you or someone you know is a victim of intimate partner violence, call The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE to confidentially speak with an advocate. We can provide you with info on safety planning and next steps, as well as give you resources for learning more about victim rights.
To get more involved, check out the National Calendar of Crime Victim Assistance-Related Events to see if there is anything you can attend in your area, or organize your own event. For more information about victims of assault, domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, sexual assault and other crimes, download the Help Series brochures.
Learn more about the history of victim’s rights (Section 5).
Follow the hashtag #NCVRW2013 on Twitter throughout the week to learn more.