NCVRW - A Good Start
Our friend and supporter, Dr. Kit Ford, Director and Founder of Argrow’s House of Healing and Hope in Davenport, penned an opinion piece in the Quad City Times for National Crime Victims' Rights Week. We're so thankful for her support and her powerful voice that she shares for Iowa crime victims.
As a child I witnessed my grandmother as a victim of violence. As an adult, I became a victim myself. I know the struggles, hurts and hardships that victims deal with on a daily basis which led me to create a safe place where women of violence and abuse can heal and grow. With support from the community, Argrow’s House has been serving women in Iowa for the past two years.
Each and every day I work with the women that we serve who are fighting to be survivors, rather than victims. I see the struggles these women deal with and how a court system that should be giving them a voice is actually retraumatizing them, over and over again.
Across the country, April 19 thru 25 has been designated National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This is a week where we can turn our attention to the fact that we can do more for crime victims.
In particular, we must do more for Iowa victims. It’s true that there is currently a law in Iowa that is supposed to give crime victims a say in the process. In reality, the current law is not enough and victims are falling through the cracks. Women I have worked with have been kept out of important decisions in their case, many times not even informed of when the hearings will be held. Many women are not given protection from their abusers, several have not been given the opportunity to be heard in court and all of them feel like the justice system that was meant to protect them instead failed them.
When someone becomes the victim of a crime and enters the court process in our state, they are thrown into a system that is tilted to favor the rights of the accused, based upon the elevated rights outlined for them in our state constitution. The system is automatically set up to fail the victim because their rights are not enshrined in the constitution, alongside the rights of the accused.
A crime victims’ rights amendment would balance the scales of justice. Not only would this give crime victims the enforceable right to be heard at trial, to be informed of hearings, to be reasonably protected - this measure would empower victims and allow them to reclaim a sense of self-worth, a sense of dignity and respect, knowing the court system values them and makes them a priority.
This is not just a law, it’s a person’s life, their safety and well-being. During this National Crime Victims’ Rights Week we must recognize that passing a crime victims’ rights amendment is a good start for Iowa victim survivors.