2021 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

For victims of crime, there may never be ‘getting back to normal’

By: MADD National President Alex Otte

Millions of Americans are affected by crime every year, their lives forever altered by a specific moment in time, and for most, things will never be the same again. I don’t believe that there is any “getting back to normal” after such an experience, what’s normal is all new. There is a lot of discussion about whether things get better with time. I’m not sure that that’s true, I think things just get different.

It can be a long and difficult road to healing and justice after being a victim of crime, but survivors don’t have to walk that journey alone.

Even during a global pandemic over the last year, victim services agencies—organizations like ours and dedicated professionals across the country—quickly mobilized and adapted to ensure that services for survivors of crime continued and that they could still participate in the justice system in meaningful ways.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 18 – 24, is an opportunity for us as an organization, and as a nation, to honor those who have come before us and paved a way for victims and survivors to have a voice, an opportunity to raise awareness for victims’ rights, and to remember victims and the professionals that serve them.

This year’s theme “Support Survivors. Build Trust. Engage Communities” is especially meaningful. It emphasizes the contributions that we all can make toward building trust in our community’s capacity to support the healing journeys of crime victims.

We are eternally grateful to the survivors who bravely and courageously use their voice for the voiceless, for those who continue to revisit their worst days, in hopes that others won’t have to experience what we have experienced. As a victim of drunk driving, I know that I will continue to share my story until it doesn’t happen to any more little girls, and no other families have to endure such trauma. I believe that if I don’t keep talking about it, it’s going to keep happening. Our greatest power is in our stories, and in the community we create through the “club” none of us ever wanted to be a part of.

Coincidentally, National Volunteer Week falls on the same dates this year. For many of us, this feels fitting. Many of us, perhaps most, came to MADD because we didn’t have a choice. We are here because someone else made the wrong choice to consume alcohol and/or drugs and get behind the wheel of a car (or boat, in my case). If that’s true for you, I want to thank you. Thank you for your courage to share your story, and for turning your passion to true purpose and helping us end it.

For those of you who are here before you have a reason, I hope you never do. If you have not been personally impacted by drunk or drugged driving, but still choose to fight for us and with us: thank you. You remind us that the rest of the world still cares. For that, I will be forever grateful.

To all the victims and to all the volunteers, please take this week to reflect on the incredible contributions you’ve made, as we renew our commitment to fight in honor of those who are no longer with us, and in support of those who are learning to live again.