NCVRW - I Felt Like I Didn't Matter

One of our strong survivor victims, Shal continues to bravely share her story with anyone will listen. This NCVRW she penned an opinion piece to help empower other victims and be their voice for change. Thanks for never backing down, Shal. 



The day that I left my husband he became very angry. In front of my children, he punched me, full-force in the head. One would think the situation and all that followed - hospital visits, traumatic brain injury, living in a shelter - was the most terrifying part of my situation. The way our criminal justice system failed me and let me fall through the cracks was nearly as traumatizing as the assault itself. 


Through the entire criminal justice process, I was never notified of any of the court dates concerning my case. Not once was I told that I could be at the hearings. I was never informed on what was happening with the case. Why would it be incumbent upon me, as the victim, to somehow find out the details that affect my life, my well-being, my safety? 


Every day I was involved in the criminal justice process I felt like I did not matter, that I had no value. The system was designed to protect and value the person who brutally beat me and left me with a brain injury. My story is not unique. This is happening to crime victims all across Iowa. Our state can do better than this. 


As it stands now, our system is out of balance. Crime victims in Iowa deserve to have constitutionally protected rights. Rights that would ensure they are informed of any and all hearings, that they are allowed to make their voice heard, that they are guaranteed reasonable protection from the person who hurt them. 


If legislators in Iowa go through one more session and fail to pass a crime victims’ rights amendment, they are failing all Iowans - the ones like me who have suffered this terrible process and those who will unknowingly become victims someday in the future. 


We must give victims a voice in our state constitution. 


Shal-Marie Winter