This week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Every year, communities across the nation hold rallies and other activities in honor of the more than 23 million people nationwide whose lives are touched by violent crime against themselves or their property each year — including about 50,000 Iowans, according to statistical data from the U.S. Department of Justice.

This year’s theme is ‘Justice for Victims. Justice for All’. “Treating victims of crime with the care and respect is a fundamental responsibility we all share. And, victim’s rights is a critical component in the foundation of our American justice system. So, as we pursue justice against perpetrators of crime, we must also, at the same time pursue justice for all individuals who are impacted by those crimes,” said Matthew G. Whitaker, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, at a celebration on the Capitol steps Monday.

I hold this time of remembrance close to my heart. I am still struggling with the emotional and mental wounds of sexual assault, caused in September 2006 by a man who was my friend in high school. But even though it has been a long, painful journey, I have been lucky to remain relatively unscarred despite the crimes that have happened to me and people I love. Some crime victims don’t get the chance to heal.

Take this week as an opportunity to lift up and support victims of crime. Remember those eastern Iowans who have been killed in the last year — Sheryl, Ethan, Seth, Mira, and Eleanor Sueppel; Dennis First; Nathan Williams; Calvin Stringer; Jerome McEwen; and 8-month-old Antuwan Williams Jr. of Waterloo, just to name a few. And remember all the others whose lives have been seriously affected by crime.

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network