National Crime Victims’ Rights Week began in 1981 and a lot has happened in communities across the nation to elevate the voices of crime survivors since then. The 2023 theme—Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change.—challenges communities to examine whether or not their crime survivors are heard, believed, and supported when they come forward. If we are ever to have a truly just system, the survivor’s voice must be central to the conversation.
Lessons Learned—and Lessons to Come
Working with survivors of the Route 91 shooting has taught our community a lot about the impact trauma can have on a survivor’s everyday life. Often, the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center has been privileged to see the challenges survivors face as they navigate their new reality, shedding extensive light on many of the barriers to justice they face as a result of trauma.
Here are several ways we can increase access to justice by elevating survivors’ voices:
- Provide a platform that creates safe spaces where crime survivors can share their experiences without judgment or blame. In order to support them better, we need to hear what their experiences and barriers are. Support groups are a safe space where survivors can begin to feel comfortable sharing their stories with other survivors. Online forums are a great way to further elevate their voices by educating the community.
- Advocate for victim-centered policies, including better support services as well as a more trauma-informed criminal justice system and victim service structure to ensure survivors are always treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.
- Educate the public on the impacts of trauma by hosting seminars, workshops, or disseminating educational materials throughout the community.
- Amplify survivor stories through social media or other platforms to raise awareness and garner support and understanding throughout the community.
- Provide resources for healing, including ancillary issues such as legal services, counseling, navigation, and financial assistance to empower survivors to rebuild their lives.
The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center has been entrusted with the experiences of so many survivors over the past five and a half years. We have heard about the many obstacles they have faced within our system and have used that knowledge to improve wherever possible. Now, the Resiliency Center uses that knowledge to serve all victims of violent crime in the state as Nevada’s first statewide victim assistance center; however, we cannot do it alone. We rely upon countless agencies, public officials, and the community as a whole to do this important work alongside our dedicated staff.
This year during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 23 to 29, we encourage all of our community partners to join us in elevating the voices of our courageous survivors throughout the community and renewing our efforts to serve them in a collaborative and comprehensive manner. If you are interested in offering your time and skills to Resiliency Center clients through behavioral health services, integrative services, or HEART Peer Support, please let us know by visiting VegasStrongRC.org/provider.
Anyone who qualifies for our services is encouraged to visit our website calendar for information on various events our community partners and we will be hosting during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. These include an open house about volunteering for a youth bereavement program on April 25, a meditation/mindfulness session on April 27, and a Trauma Recovery Yoga class on April 28. For any questions about getting or giving support through the Resiliency Center, please call 702-455-2433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.