Celebrate progress during Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Published 3:52 pm Thursday, April 15, 2021

Alex Otte

Dr. Emily Bonistall Postel

When the pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt, it brought with it a sudden loss of stability and control, isolation, and helplessness. The world as we knew it was no longer the one we lived in. Over the past year, we have had to figure what it means to live our lives now. People began talking about our “new normal” instead of getting back to normal.

This is an all-too-familiar refrain for victims of crime. As we learn to live in our new normal, we look to other survivors of crime to lead the way because they understand the path and can show us what it means to be resilient.

“From the exact moment of the death notification, the person we were just moments before ceases to exist. Survivors will develop new patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting.  Not only will we have to learn to grieve and navigate the criminal justice system, we have to learn to live again.” Melissa, homicide survivor

“The future that little girl would have had before that crash was no longer a possibility. That little girl, and the woman she would have been, that person is not here anymore. And so, I had to figure out how to live my life now.” -Alex, drunk driving survivor

Millions of Americans are affected by crime every year, their lives forever altered by a specific moment in time. It can be a long and winding road to healing and justice after being a victim of crime, but survivors don’t have to walk that journey alone.

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, victim service agencies and dedicated professionals all across the state quickly mobilized and adapted to ensure that services for survivors of crime continued and that they could still participate in the justice system in meaningful ways.

We commemorate these experiences during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 18-24) as we take a moment to celebrate the progress achieved, raise awareness of victims’ rights, and honor victims and the professionals who serve them. This year’s theme – “Support Survivors. Build Trust. Engage Communities.” – is especially meaningful to us as Kentuckians. It emphasizes the contributions that we all can make toward building trust in our community’s capacity to support the healing journeys of crime victims, and this year, our Commonwealth did that in a big way. We passed Marsy’s Law.

We are eternally grateful to the survivors who bravely and courageously used their voice for the voiceless by sharing their pain in hopes that it will help others. Amid a year of much uncertainty, Kentuckians across the commonwealth sent a clear and powerful message that those whose lives are impacted by crime deserve our support and to have their rights protected in our constitution.

In Kentucky, our new normal ensures that victims can participate in our criminal justice system in meaningful ways, and that the rights of crime victims are implemented fairly and consistently for all. We work toward the day when there are no more victims. Until then, we’ll be honoring those we have lost while supporting those who are still here with us, walking with them as they learn to live again.

Dr. Emily Bonistall Postel is the Director of Outreach for Marsy’s Law of Kentucky. She is an educator and activist with more than a decade of experience teaching, researching, and advocating on behalf of crime victims.
Alex Otte is the National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a survivor and an advocate for victims of crime.