Volunteer Highlight: Lauren Myers
Lauren Myers volunteers for Marsy’s Law in Montana and is currently a student at Montana State University.
As a victim of a violent crime I, unfortunately, have had to navigate the court system myself. However, I have not been alone through the civil and criminal processes due to the support of my family and those who dedicate their lives to helping survivors. While I was still in the acute healing stage receiving therapy, my mother found herself searching for resources to help me and to help her understand what she could do on a larger scale. As she and I spent month after month constantly “following up” on my case, I became more and more frustrated with the lack of compassion that was shown towards me. There was no mechanism holding the justice system accountable for their actions which implied that they did not care at all about my case or my rights. Instead of focusing on the increasing despair I felt, I realized that I could turn my frustration with the system into motivation to make the system more caring for others who would likely face similar circumstances. When I shared my desire to make the system more “victim friendly” with my mother, she introduced me to Marsy’s Law.
Upon reading about Marsy’s Law, I felt both hope and sadness simultaneously. I felt sadness because the reality is that we live in a place where actions like notifying the victim about major case developments are not always regarded as common courtesy. A victims’ bill of rights is very much needed in order to keep the justice system accountable for the way victims and their families are treated. I felt hope because Marsy’s Law exists and that it has a chance at becoming more than just an elusive ideal of standards but something more concrete.
I know now what it is like to have my rights blatantly violated by, not only the perpetrator but also the justice system. The continual disregard for my life and my rights is not only hurtful but re-traumatizing. I was and still am very fortunate to have such strong supports, but there are survivors and family members who do not. No person should have to go through a process that is supposed to bring justice but only manages to guarantee a re-violation of rights. I plan on sharing my hopes of what Marsy’s Law can accomplish with my community through my involvement in The HEART Initiative, by emphasizing that the issue is about fundamental human rights and equality, to provide the same rights to those who are victims as those who have been accused.