While we have legislation in Australia that sets out the rights of victims of crime, these rights are not binding on service providers. This means that while we might expect that a victim of crime is treated with courtesy and respect, if it doesn’t happen, there are few opportunities to complain, secure an apology or compensation.
The following is an email sent to a lawyer (who I have called Sarah) by someone who has experienced domestic/family violence (including sexual violence), who has an extensive trauma history from contact with the child protection system and who has received an insensitive and unsatisfactory response from the justice system so far. She is also one of the smartest people I know.
Often when a victim of crime receives a consistently unsupportive and underwhelming response from the justice system his or her expectations drop. Suddenly just being believed is a big thing. And being believed is still a long way from actually feeling like any sort of justice has been achieved.
I post with permission.
Sarah, today you were a breath of fresh air.
Out of the 12 months that this criminal / legal battle has been going on, I have been through trauma and secondary systematic trauma from lack of understanding and human decency in services priding themselves on supporting ‘the victim’.
You have far stood out of this helping crowd simply by being your natural self. Today, you informed me of legal jargon and processes and made me feel heard, understood and believed in this hangover of a case. You offered viable solutions that came to your mind and/or referral pathways and even sat with me in confused-determination once I told you that I’ve tried them all.
You were genuine and not at all belittling or condescending; a tone and behaviour I have unfortunately had to deal with throughout this ordeal (with the police, prosecution and others).
I sincerely would like to sing your praises and make sure that you know you are valued by the people you humbly serve. I certainly want your managers to read this email as witness to the fact you are brilliant in your field of at least 37 years and a wonderful relief to the victims who are in fact high-functioning – as opposed to what a victim ‘should’ look and be like (introverted, tears, sensitive trauma tolerance, etc.).
Thank you for what you offered. I will continue to do what I can.