The compassionate, devoted members of NCVLI’s Board of Directors come from all walks of life, and many bring the perspective of personal experience with victimization to their work for victims. In this NCVLI Board Member Spotlight, we aim to share with the community a glimpse into the insights of the people working behind the scenes to help shape NCVLI’s work for victims.
President of the Board Helene Davis, a long-time victim advocate, shared her thoughts on the future of victims’ rights and why it is so important to continue the work we do for victims.
What would you most like to see NCVLI or the victims’ rights movement accomplish over the next five years? Twenty years?
Over the next five years I would like to see the passing of a national Victims’ Rights Amendment. This would require a collaborative effort between the legal and victim services communities. Work done by NCVLI is increasingly bringing these groups together and I believe continued education and collaborative work will make the need for victims’ rights an undeniable fact. Within the next 20 years I would like to see the rights of victims become an integral part of the judicial system in this country.
If you could change one thing about the current victims’ rights environment, be it legal, political, public recognition, victim social/psychological services, etc., what would it be?
One of the most pressing problems for the victims’ rights environment is the need for a better understanding of victims’ social and psychological needs. Services are offered on an immediate/crisis basis without truly understanding the long-term effects of being a crime “survivor”. Services need to be both improved and expanded to cover all areas of a family’s survival including such things as housing, employment, psychological services, resource networking, etc. Also bundled in these services should be victim education so that people know what rights they already have.
If you had a chance to talk to the U.S. Senate, Supreme Court, President, Congress or your state’s governor & legislature, what one thing would you tell them about victims’ rights?
If I had a chance to speak to the Supreme Court, I would ask them why people who do wrong and disobey existing laws have so many rights while those of us who obey the law have so few. When a crime is perpetrated against someone they cannot appeal how said crime has impacted their lives. They are most often encouraged to accept what has happened and move on – quietly. Why then should criminals have the right to bemoan their fate and ask for a “do-over”? At least victims should be given as much of a right to be heard as criminals.
Why should someone get involved with NCVLI and victims’ rights?
I believe every citizen in this country should have a vested interest in increasing victims’ rights. Victims left unsupported often live with a sense of desperation and abandonment from those factors in our society that they have spent years investing and believing in. NCVLI is the only organization I know of whose focus is “victim-centered” and who is willing to bring all the players to the table to learn why victims’ rights are so important.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired every day by the crime victim survivors I work with. I see the resiliency in people, the desire to hold on to the hope that things will get better. That they and their families will get better. It’s a hope that I have felt and it’s a hope that all victims need.
To learn more about Helene, read her biography here.