When a crime occurs, there is a victim. Every time.
The most obvious victims are those who are the victims of violent crime. The bruises and injuries are testament to what the individual endured. In the worst cases, the victimization is viewed at funerals and, in some cases, at subsequent ceremonies remembering the victim.
Others are less obvious. For instance, the elderly woman who has scrimped and saved her whole life for a nest egg that will help her get by in her later years. Scams abound that deprive the most vulnerable among us from enjoying the fruits of their labor, whether through deception or outright theft.
Even so-called victimless crimes defy their term. Illegal drugs only hurt the user? Perhaps those who reside near the borders where those drugs enter the United States would argue -- and rightly so -- that they are victimized. Border Patrol agents, many of whom have lost their lives, also have a different view of what is "victimless." The same goes for prostitution. Even in cases where a disease is not transmitted, the crime disrupts family life for the spouse and any children.
This week -- Crime Victim's Rights Week -- there will be a number of observances that focus on the people who are too often forgotten when criminal activity is discussed -- the victim.
The recipient of a criminal act, particularly a violent one, carries that experience for the rest of his or her life. In many cases, the idea of trusting someone is stolen forever, causing a feeling of isolation, even in the presence of people who love them.
A criminal act against a person doesn't go away, even when the perpetrator is locked away. And when the crime is no longer in the headlines or broadcast, we are quick to go on with our own lives and not think about the burden these victims carry with them every day.
This week is a good time to reflect on that. Assaults are not numbers. Thefts are not mere calculations. These numbers are people -- family members, friends, acquaintances or strangers -- who have suffered.
They deserve to be heard. And we -- we who could be victims ourselves at any time -- owe it to them to listen and to care.
-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board