IOWA, USA — Shal Winter is a fighter, but it wasn't always that way. She says she suffered years of abuse from her now ex-husband until she felt strong enough to leave in 2017.
Winter went to Family Resources where and her kids were assisted in finding housing. Winter says she also was given help through Iowa's 'Safe at Home' program which allows survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, stalking, or other violent crimes to get a pseudo address where all of her mail would go. The State program would then forward the mail to your actual address.
Family Resources says they also help in other ways like legal advocacy, support groups, individual counseling, and education. Family Resources tells News 8 that when you are a part of their trauma program there is no cost for the victim to seek help.
Now that Winter got help, she has processed her trauma to a point that she says she feels comfortable sharing her story as an advocate of Marsy's Law and to help other victims feel comfortable in seeking help, too.
Marsy's Law is a nationwide effort to amend state constitutions to make victim's rights constitutional rights. Winter spends time speaking to legislators like Rep. Marti Anderson who actually helped form the current laws on Iowa's books called Code 915 which has been the law of the land since the mid-1980s. Rep. Marti Anderson tells News 8, "The rights of victims [are] to be notified and be present and heard and receive restitution... those statutes work and I think it's time to make sure that crime victim's rights are constitutional rights.
Rep. Marti Anderson, says in order to add Marsy's Law it's important to call local legislators and encourage them to get involved and make Marsy's Law a priority. If you don't know who your legislators are, Marsy's Law for Iowa has a search option for you to find and contact your local legislators.
In order for an amendment to be made to Iowa's constitution both the Iowa House and Senate must vote to pass the measure, and then a vote of the people of Iowa is required. Typically, this takes 4-5 years which is another reason why advocates for Marsy's Law say it's important to add because removing an amendment takes just as long, whereas right now, a simple majority vote could overturn Iowa's Code 915 which is currently being used for victim's rights.