YWCA Observes Crime Victims’ Rights Week

2017 Crime Victims’ Rights Week Planned for April 2-8

crime victims' rightsEvery year in April, the St. Joseph community sets aside one week to observe crime victims’ rights with a Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year, the event will take place April 2 – 8, designated by the Office for Victims of Crime.

The theme of this year’s event is STRENGTH, RESILIENCE, JUSTICE. The YWCA will join other community partners in hosting special programs to raise awareness about crime victims’ rights, as well as providing access to the important resources and services available to victims. The event is coordinated by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Justice. One of its purposes is to lead the country each year in a community-level observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. During this observance, victims’ rights are promoted and their experiences are honored.

This year’s theme of STRENGTH, RESILIENCE, JUSTICE, was chosen for its emphasis on the importance of multidisciplinary responses and building the capacity of individuals, service providers and communities. These groups are critical for responding to crime and supporting the ongoing healing of victims and survivors.

The theme was also chosen as a way to support OVC’s Vision 21 Initiative to encourage research, focus on emerging issues and increase the capacity of service organizations for victims through the improvement of technology and training use for this purpose.

One out of every five women will be raped in her lifetime, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite the prevalence of the crime, there is continued tolerance for behaviors that serve to normalize sexual assault.

One problem is the persistence of outdated ideas about what “counts” as sexual assault or harassment, and how a victim should respond, or how long it should take them to recover from the experience. These attitudes prevent progress and can be dangerous, creating barriers to justice and don’t allow victims to be heard.

In recent years, colleges and workplaces have made advances in addressing sexual assault in their environments. However, for children, elders, men and persons with disabilities, there remain few vehicles for reporting sexual assault or other abuse. A common barrier for victims is the presence of a trusted person that will believe them.

Many victims experience further trauma when they tell a friend or family member, file a report with law enforcement or engage in an investigation. For many victims, the criminal justice system provides little comfort, causing them to question whether their experience is worth reporting to the authorities.

Join the St. Joseph YWCA in honoring crime victims’ rights April 2 – 8. To learn more and get involved, visit the YWCA website today.

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