National Crime Victims' Rights Week 2022
A message from Dr. Dean G. Kilpatrick, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor of Clinical Psychology, Director of the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center, and Director of the National Crime Victims Research & Treatment Center:
2022 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) heralds a seminal anniversary in our field: the 50-year anniversary of the first victim/ survivor services programs founded in our country in 1972. Here in South Carolina, we share great pride in this hallmark, as we opened the doors of our state’s first rape crisis center — People Against Rape (now Tri-County SPEAKS Sexual Assault Center) — just two years later in 1974. A half century of services to crime survivors is a truly impressive accomplishment that uplifts us all as we look toward the future of our field.
This year’s NCVRW theme — “Rights, access, equity for all victims” — resonates deeply with all of us who are committed to assisting victims, survivors and communities impacted by mass violence.
All survivors and victims of mass violence, first and foremost, have the basic rights to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be provided with information that can help them reconstruct their lives in the aftermath of such a devastating crime. In criminal mass violence cases, our Center knows that our new Planning and Implementation Guide for Comprehensive, Coordinated Victim Assistance for Mass Violence Incident Trials is helpful for all professionals who assist survivors in understanding and exercising their rights through the criminal justice process.
Across our nation, access to quality, coordinated victim services for mass violence survivors has been enhanced by the creation of Resiliency Centers that provide long-term support to not only mass violence victims, but entire communities that years after the incident, often still feel its ripple effects. We sponsor monthly Forums of Resiliency Center leaders and, through our robust website, provide timely information, resources, and training opportunities for mass violence victims/ survivors and the wide range of professionals who serve them.
Equity requires each of us to recognize that all mass violence incidents, victims/ survivors, and communities affected by mass violence are not alike. Each mass violence incident is unique. So is each victim/ survivor, although many of them share some of the same challenges and needs. They all need accurate information, fair and equal treatment, and justice. Some have more resources than others, including strong social support networks that help them cope with mass violence and other stressful events. Some live in communities lacking substantial and meaningful employment and economic opportunity, underfunded schools, high crime, and lack access to health care and social services. Some have personal histories that include prior criminal victimization or other potentially traumatic events. Some communities in which mass violence occurs are better prepared than others and have more resources with which to address victims'/ survivors’ needs and problems. Equity in survivor services recognizes the unique circumstances and capacity of each mass violence victim and impacted community, and requires a collective commitment to address imbalanced systems in order to create sustainable support for all who need it.
Finally, the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center recognizes that when mass violence victims/ survivors have rights, access and equity, it builds the very foundation of long-term resiliency and recovery.
Thank you for checking out our National Crime Victims' Rights Week 2022-related resources, including a special edition of our Mass Violence Podcast and resources.