Victims Are In Trouble
A few headlines from across Iowa are popping up and beginning to tell the untold story of the COVID-19 pandemic – victims are in trouble.
We know that victims who were already in shaky situations prior to the start of the COVID crisis are likely in worse situations now – spending more time with their abuser with increasingly stressful situations. Additionally, children who might have access to a trusted teacher or support person at school or after-school programs are also isolated.
Between these headlines and recent reports of inmate releases, now is an especially troubling time to be a crime victim in Iowa. As the pandemic has moved through the country, it’s shone a bright light on the serious gaps in the system in certain states, and in particular, Iowa. Currently, Iowa crime victims are not provided enforceable rights in the state’s constitution and the rapid spread of COVID-19 in our state has further illustrated why statutory rights are no longer good enough for crime victims.
Victims need to know that if they are in a situation where they must escape, the justice system is set up to treat them fairly. As it stands now, Iowa crime victims are not provided enforceable rights in the state’s constitution and many domestic violence victims feel like the system favors their abuser. Victims are not required to be notified of trial or release of the criminal; they’re not always allowed to speak at trial; they are not given the right to reasonable protection from the accused. As we can see by this COVID situation hitting our state, constitutional rights for victims is more than just the right thing to do – it’s about life and death.
If you are a victim of abuse and need assistance during social distancing or quarantine, you are not alone. Please call the Iowa Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-942-0333. We know violence doesn’t stop for viruses and we’re here to help.