Navigating being a victim of a crime, especially sexual assault, can be difficult and confusing. It’s not always clear to people what their rights are as victims, how to access services, or if they have any guarantee that they’ll be treated with respect during the criminal justice process. As a result, many survivors of crimes don’t get access to the rights and supports they are entitled to, and may be unable to continue with criminal justice proceedings at all.
Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence and similar groups help to support survivors that might be having these troubles navigating the criminal justice system. They provide much needed support, make sure the rights of survivors are actually being protected, and help survivors figure out what they want from the process and how to achieve those needs. Most of their work is done through referrals or their own outreach, as they are not a very well-known organization, but their work has been extremely useful to many survivors of sexual violence in Connecticut. In a time where sexual assault on college campuses and in the world at large remains a significant issue, organizations like Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence are vital to ensuring that survivors’ needs are being met and respected.
I and several other UConn students worked with Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence as part of Politics of Crime and Justice’s service learning component. One of our projects was to create a brochure that listed the rights of victims as listed in federal law, the Connecticut Constitution, and other Connecticut laws. Finding relevant laws and parsing legal language can be daunting for many people, so materials like this can be vital resources for people to know their rights and understand when those rights might be violated. Even if those affected by these crimes don’t use Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence’s services directly, hopefully this brochure and other resources can give them the information they need.
I hope to see more UConn students supporting organizations such as this one through volunteering, sharing information, or other means. Supporting survivors of sexual violence is crucial, especially when so many people on campus experience these crimes. These organizations are part of vital work of ending sexual assault on campuses and across the country.
Aven Kelley is a sophomore WGSS and Human Rights major at the University of Connecticut. They can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.