“What about us?”—The Power of Anna’s Story

The Marsy’s Law for Ohio news conference was nearly over. Prosecutors and law enforcement officials, crime victim advocates and lawyers had all spoke eloquently about the need for Marsy’s Law for Ohio. Then it was Anna’s turn to tell her story of survival, an all-too-typical tale of justice delayed and, ultimately, justice denied after nearly two dozen continuances in a sex abuse case.

As she spoke, the room full of advocates and members of the press grew silent. “You have no voice, you have no rights, you have nothing yet he gets the rights to a speedy trial,” Anna said in a firm voice. “He’s the one that’s protected. What about us?”

Unscripted and unvarnished, Anna’s plea for justice echoed far beyond that ornate Ohio Statehouse room. It resonated with reporters who included her in their news stories that appeared across Ohio, and it moved advocates and members of Marsy’s Law for Ohio team in attendance that day.

Minutes after the press conference ended, a Marsy’s Law for Ohio team member bumped into a state lawmaker who was reluctant about supporting a constitutional amendment, no matter how well intentioned the cause. But as our team member shared Anna’s story with the reluctant lawmaker, the lawmaker’s stance began to soften as the power of Anna’s story took hold. By the time the conversation ended, the lawmaker was saying “I think I want to be part of this,” and had been converted to the Marsy’s Law for Ohio cause.

Prosecutors, and law-enforcement officials and victim advocates all have a role to play in persuading the public that Marsy’s Law is an important step forward for crime victims. However, to truly engage hearts and minds, the stories of survivors like Anna bear personal witness like none other to the critical importance of equal rights for crime victims.