Child Sexual Assault Survivor Speaks Out for Victims' Constitutional Rights
As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I was once a vulnerable and powerless victim with no voice. Like most victims, I had been silenced by fear and threats from my abuser. Now that I am stronger and have healed from the trauma, I am driven to advocate for victims
I support this legislation because everyone deserves to be treated with respect, dignity, and basic decency when they interact with the criminal justice system. Oftentimes, this is not the experience for victims of crime, such as victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. Many have suffered unspeakable abuse before walking into court for the first time. They have learned they are safer if they remain silent and don’t speak. They have no voice. This is a default behavior for victims of abuse.
Under CACR 22, victims could request timely notification of hearings or other court proceedings so their voice can be heard when legal decisions are handed down. It would allow a victim to be notified when the accused is released, which can be a dangerous time for victims.
Under CACR 22, victims could assert their right to privacy if there are serious safety concerns. For example, they could request their home address not be made public if there is a concern for their safety. This is significant, as we know that victims of interpersonal violence are often at higher risk when their offender is released into the community.
There is a Victims Bill of Rights under current New Hampshire law. However, these rights are only statutory, and the rights afforded to the accused and convicted are constitutional. In reality this means that the rights of the accused and convicted will always outweigh the rights of their victims. While it is of course very important of the accused to have constitutional rights, it seems only reasonable that victims should have very basic, commonsense rights in the constitution as well. Right now, in the New Hampshire constitution, victims have zero rights.
CACR 22 will bring equity to the rights of the victim and accuser. The only fair and decent choice is to elevate victim rights to the constitutional level. As a survivor, I hope legislators will balance the scales of justice by passing Marsy’s Law.