None of us has the power to insulate ourselves entirely from criminal behavior. No matter how safely we try to lead our lives, there is always the risk that one day we – or someone we know and love – will be victimized by a fatal car crash, sexual assault or more violent crime.
What we do know, however, is that criminal acts turn spouses, siblings, parents and loved ones into crime victims. This is not a welcome label. Instead, it’s a reality that forces victims to deal with the trauma, uncertainty and consequences that come with it.
I understand this reality because I’m a crime victim. At age 14, I was raped by an 18-year-old, a man who raped young girls before and would do it again. He was ultimately convicted and sentenced, but my experience as a victim left me frustrated and a sense of being relegated to the sidelines of our justice system.
During this process, I did not feel like I always had an active voice, and furthermore, I felt that my rapist and his family were given better treatment throughout the proceedings. Only because my uncle is an attorney was I made aware of what my victim’s rights were and are throughout the entire process. And, only because my family is persistent, were we made aware of hearings so that my voice could be heard. Throughout the entire process, it felt to me as if I was being treated lesser than my rapist.
Today, I am an advocate for strengthening victims’ rights in Idaho’s constitution to ensure that the victims of tomorrow do not have to endure an experience like the one I had. . Being a victim of a sexual assault/rape is the worst thing I have ever experienced; being left out of opportunities to testify, having the offender violate no-contact orders with no repercussions, not having forewarning of upcoming hearings, being paraded in front of my rapist’s family and being forced to sit in cafeterias and waiting rooms only made it worse. It re-victimizes a person all over again.
I ask that you respectfully consider my perspective, to take some time to empathize with victims and the victim experience. Finally, I urge you to support enumerating rights for victims in Idaho’s constitution and guarantee that victims of crime will be afforded rights just like accused and convicted criminals.