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Can you describe what it was like for you as a crime victim in the Mississippi court system?
I think wherever you live, being assaulted is scary and can make what you know as safe, feel very unsafe. In Hinds County, specifically, I did have access to great resources in the system due to friends, colleagues, and my career. The support I received from my people motivated me to push through the hard times.
What did you find to be the most frustrating aspect?
The most frustrating aspect is that I was contacted by the perpetrator as he served time in jail and, because this is not a normal occurrence, laws are not in place to protect victims. He served one additional year even though it was a clear violation of me and my family. The perpetrator obviously had access to a way to retrieve my personal information and then turned it into a threat by mail. This is frustrating because I thought I was protected while he served time, but I was not. The other frustrating aspect is after a perpetrator serves their time in prison, there is not much accountability after they are out in the free world. Even though there may be a no-contact order between perpetrator and victim, or a requirement to register as a sex offender, the survivor or victim never really knows where the perpetrator resides.
How do believe Marsy’s Law for Mississippi will most help crime victims in the state?
Marsy’s Law for Mississippi can help crime victims exponentially by keeping them informed and having access to information regarding the perpetrator’s whereabouts. This information is of extreme importance for a victim to move forward healthily and not live in fear. To give the victim access in communicating with a government attorney, have notification of ALL movement of the perpetrator, and to be heard by the court, judge and/or government official could potentially change the harsh symptoms victims face after being traumatized. This law could change how victims face life and, instead, a victim could feel more in control and possibly empowered to truly LIVE their life.
Do you have any words of encouragement for other crime victims?
Document everything, phone/email exchanges, people you speak with, meetings with any professional, etc. Document - even if you think you will remember. Be vigilant about all communication and your own self-care. If you have questions, ASK until you get an answer. If it is too hard for you, ask a trusted family member, friend, pastor, mentor, or therapist to make the calls with you or for you. This is important. If you do not have the energy, have an advocate! Tell your story many times. If it is too hard at first, try going to therapy or talking to a trusted individual that will listen. Finding a good therapist that you feel comfortable and safe with is important; especially if you find yourself experiencing increased symptoms such as anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, too much sleep, lack of concentration, withdrawal, lack of motivation, etc. Join a group, whether it is for victims' rights, a church group, an online group for victims, mindfulness, art, yoga, and/or any type of exercise group - something to give you a sense of community and support. Take self-defense or martial arts classes. This could empower and strengthen your mind and body physically and emotionally.