"But I'll never be a victim of crime! Crime is something that happens to someone else. Crime is certainly a societal problem, but not one that affects me personally."
If only these statements were true. The reality is that most people in America will be a victim of or witness to a crime in their lifetime. The threat and impact of terrorism have had a profound effect on feelings of safety and security...
April 18-24 marks National Crime Victims' Rights Week. For seven days, victim-service providers, justice professionals and others seek to promote greater public awareness about a serious problem that affects our nation. For one week, we share the opportunity to have a serious national dialogue about victims of crime and the impact on us.
The economic impact of crime in America is devastating, damaging victims' abilities to focus, function and work. The psychological impact may be more difficult to measure, but is no less devastating.
Many victims never report crime because of trauma and fear. For those who do report crimes, we have much work to do to validate the harm they have endured, their voices and concerns, and their rights as victims.
And the physical impact results in people whose lives are irrevocably changed - the robbery victim who is left a paraplegic, the family whose breadwinner is murdered, the battered woman who hides her bruises in hopes of hiding her chronic suffering, and the child-abuse victims who hear the threats of their abusers and never disclose their victimization.
Victims and survivors of crime have simple, basic needs. They need to feel safe in reporting crimes committed against them. They need consistent implementation of their core rights to information and notification, protection, participation, and restitution. And they need to be assured that they are not responsible for what happened, and that the persons who hurt them will be brought to justice.
Barbara Thurmond, Augusta
(Editor's note: The writer represents Blacks Against Black Crimes Inc., an Augusta organization.)