When victims enter the criminal justice system, it isn’t out of the desire to prosecute, but from the instinct of survival. What follows is unpredictable, confusing, and in most cases dangerous and unfamiliar territory.
As responders and participants in that system, we sometimes forget that victims are all at different stages. We send messages of judgment and doubt through our tone and questions. Without intention, we lose the trust of a victim while they lose their faith in justice. The system becomes another tool of an abuser where the dialogue is controlled by the perpetrator and the victim’s voice lost.
It is our job as professionals within the criminal justice system to assist victims and help them to navigate this uncharted water. By validating their experience and starting with trust, we arm them with the power of knowledge and support rather than judgment and doubt. We must listen to victims who are ready to speak. They give a voice to the many victims still trapped and mute.