April 24-30 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and organizations that work closely with crime victims say it’s important that people know the rights victims are entitled to.
“This week is established by the Department of Justice to get service providers talking about all victims of crime,” said Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator and Former Legal Advocate for RISE Advocacy in Mt. Pleasant Magdalena Lopez. “Just acknowledging that there are services there for victims of crime, and acknowledging we need to do better in providing services to victims of crime.”
There are several rights victims of crime are entitled to.
“They absolutely have the right to engage with their prosecutor’s office,” said Lopez. “If there’s a victim of a crime who is unsure of what’s going on with their case, or they’re not understanding things they definitely have access to their prosecutor, they should really engage with their office and engage with their victim advocates there.”
Lopez said depending on the crime, there are other rights victims are entitled to.
“They may have the right to some sort of compensation,” she said. “If they’re a victim of a violent crime, such as domestic violence or sexual assault, they do have the right to ask for a protective order.”
The Mt. Pleasant Police Dept. also created a new avenue to let victims know of their rights, a Social Crisis Advocate.
“It’s a multi-faceted approach to crisis that happens in community,” said Social Crisis Advocate Krysta Carabelli. “If someone has a hard time or feeling suicidal, homelessness, experiencing domestic violence, they can call and I come to the scene to give resources.”
The position has only been around for about a month, but Carabelli said it’s already provided a great impact.
“There has been a few instances where I’ve gone to scenes from people, and I’ve been able to advocate for them in a way that I don’t know would have been available before,” said Carabelli. “They didn’t know that they could ask for some representation, they didn’t know that they could have access to counseling after the fact, or it’s ok to feel the way you’re feeling right now.”
Carabelli and Lopez both agree the most important thing to victims to remember is that they’re not alone, and help is out there.
For victims who are looking for support, they can contact their county prosecutor’s office, United Way, 211, or other non-profits that work with victims of crimes.
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