Writer’s Process Blog Hop

writers blog hop

photo courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt

Dying to Live, Amy Susan Crohn, ImaginePublicity,Donna R. Gore, LadyJusticeI was nominated to join the Blog Hop by award winning author Amy Susan Crohn. Her first book, DYING TO LIVE: Running backwards through cancer, Lupus, and chronic illness was a finalist in the MEMOIRS (Overcoming Adversity/Tragedy/Challenges) category by Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She was a featured author at the 2014 Book Expo America in New York. Accomplishments which to aspire! Catch up on Amy’s website and be sure to read her blog.

I was also featured on last week’s “Hop Stop” at ImaginePublicity, a social media marketing agency who has helped develop my skills in ImaginePublicity logosocial media as well as marketing my new endeavors. Through my association I have been able to be introduced to some of the country’s leading victim advocates and others who are tops in their fields surrounding the rights of crime victims and the judicial system.

 

What am I working on?

I am a blossoming author in the professional sense, but, in reality, I have been writing since my teens, and that’s a LONG time ago! I am a mad, passionate writer and practice my craft everyday through my blog entries, in-depth research blogs which showcase issues and guests on my national radio show, Shattered Lives. I’m in the process of expanding my expertise in my forthcoming first book.

We are all products of our past and I bring a rich tapestry of experience prior to  becoming a crime victim in 1981 when my father was murdered.  I’m also the survivor of over 50 surgeries during my lifetime. Luckily, these experiences molded me into the person I am today, happy, very healthy, and are the basis of my nickname “LadyJustice.”

As a homicide survivor and advocate for many causes with an insatiable intellectual curiosity, my main interest is in the non-fiction crime genre. However, due to the myriad of colleagues I’ve met along the way, and the increased exposure to so many aspects of crime victims and their rights, I have also included others as closest to my heart, such as persons who go missing.

It’s difficult to keep on track at times, for I want to veer off into territory about which no one else has written. This is the root of my passion, for my writing to be unique and cutting edge as often as possible versus mundane ho-hum stuff.

I have created a niche market service for crime victims unlike anyone else, a custom tailored Vicitim Impact Statement writing service available in a tiered package. This addresses a need in that victims can be often left to their own devices at the most vulnerable and emotional time in their lives, unable to understand a judicial process that seems stacked against them and their needs. My consultation service creates a victim impact statement for court or for a Board of Pardons & Parole.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My passion for crime story telling knows no bounds. I can always make “something” out of a few facts given my divergent thinking skills.  Sometimes I employ what I call the ”Stone Soup Method”.  There is a more detailed method to my writing which includes how to effectively market the crime which I have outlined in a presentation called “Marketing 101 for your Crime.”  YES,  you do have to market it as a crime victim in order to obtain the proper exposure.   When writing about crime, these are some of the questions I ask myself:

    • What is personally interesting to the writer?
    • What is unique or unusual?
    • Is it related to current events? (Does it need to be?)
    • Is it historical or nostalgia based?
    • Does it have heart, human interest?
    • Is it “just another crime” or are there elements that make it more intriguing?
    • Is it readily transferable to written or audio format?
    • Will the topic have “staying power”- longevity?
    • Is the topic controversial, provocative?
    • Will it offend others…Do you care?
    • As the writer, do you have a personal stake in the topic, and does that make it better or worse?
    • Can other elements and information be pulled in to increase audience appeal?

What differs is I always try to tell a story by painting a complete picture, by using a variety of social media sites in an interesting manner, and using creative language with a sense of humor.

Why do I write what I do?

My writing has personal relevance to me and a larger audience, because it is intriguing and unique, and it needs to be discussed in the context of creating an awareness. In addition,  I enjoy breaking down the barriers of “taboo topics “ with the potential for helping large numbers of readers listeners such as in Defining Suicide Healing and Grief.

How does my work process work?

I tend to follow my heart, along with my personal experience when it comes to choosing subject matter, but I’m mindful of the following:

  • Explain the relevance up front
  • Use a “hook” to capture attention
  • Be original – No “copy-paste” stories
  • Credit others- Use references for excerpts and other material used to illustrate your message
  • Humanize and personalize
  • Tie it together- beginning, middle, conclusion
  • Begin and end on a positive or provocative note
  • Be creative (i.e. chose quotes or short narratives to “capture the mood” and enhance your material
  • Don’t use bad language; The use of other language can say it just as effectively
  • Pair your story with a graphic that “says it all”(non-copyrighted or with permission)
  • Respect copyrighted material
  • Circulate “respectfully” to other social media forms
  • Diversify your message
  • Connecting and sharing posts
  • Inclusion of questions at the end when relevant

Thanks for the opportunity to introduce my life as a blogger which has served as a “springboard” for many other opportunities! I so look forward to what’s on the horizon for “LadyJustice!”

Karen Beaudoin, A Child is Missing

As she relates the harrowing story of her missing and murdered sister in her book A Child is Missing, author Karen Beaudinwill share with readers how she has turned a family tragedy into not only a quest for justice, but a learning tool which she uses to teach law enforcement agencies about investigating criminal cold cases.

An author who is working on her sequel, Karen is also a dynamic speaker appearing at conferences and organizations all over the country.

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The Legacy of Leah Toby Roberts and the  “On the Road to Remember Tour“ with the CUE Center for Missing Persons 2014 

 

“There are no good-byes, wherever we are, you’ll always be in my heart”. Anonymous

GONE MISSING at age 23! Leah was an adventurous young woman from Durham, North Carolina who was inspired and grieving. If this combination was flirting with disaster only Leah, her perpetrator(s), and perhaps the well honed experience of Monica Caison, Founder of the Community United Effort (CUE) Center for the Missing would know in their heart of hearts.

Leah Roberts, Road to Remember Tour honoree, CUE Center for Missing Persons

Leah Roberts

Leah Roberts’ story is not a story in the sense of entertainment, rather, it is a true account with certain known facts, but also shrouded in mystery, possibilities, hypotheses, innuendo and lots of unsubstantiated speculation. The fact that CUE Center volunteers decided to “form a caravan”  on a grueling 14-day trip to retrace Leah’s route and inform the media of all those who were missing while performing this search, is the heart and soul of the “On Road to Remember Tour” and the reason for this blog.

What is the Road to Remember Tour?  In the Words of Monica Caison:

 “On the Road to Remember, National tour ” is an awareness campaign focusing on missing persons cases that have gone cold or have not received appropriate media coverage on the local level – much less the national level.. The tour, which travels through many states annually, provides that attention. Each year particular regions of the country are selected with “more interest growing “along the way. 

In all cases of missing people, it is vital to inform the public of the missing person’s circumstances quickly and to disseminate that information to the media and the public. In most cases where details are released immediately to the public through an organized campaign, the public brings forth information that aids in the investigation and or the location of the victim. The media plays a significant role in getting the word out on the behalf of the missing person and should be recognized as a vital resource to any investigation.

Interest in many of the cases we have featured in previous tours has been renewed. The media have learned about local cases they were unaware of; case investigations have been renewed, and searches conducted. Information has resulted in new leads in some cases, and has even helped identify an unknown decedent and in 2008 solved a cold case of twenty-eight years. Finally, with each tour, some of the missing persons featured have been found through various efforts. This is the main reason the Cue Center conducts the tour despite the toll it takes on our all-volunteer staff.

It is the belief of the CUE Center for Missing Persons that all investigations, the public, volunteers and the media should work in collaboration on cases involving missing children and adults; until this happens, their will continue to be cases of the missing labeled “cold” or “inactive.”

WHAT IS A RALLY STOP?

A rally stop is a place that is pre set by anyone who wishes to host one for suggested missing person(s). Once a location is secured CUE will inform the host of time and date of arrival. Each stop is one hour and a half  long for whatever program the host wishes to have and feature;  this is the time to bring an awareness to your community of missing persons.

Returning to Leah Roberts:

Events and known facts will be listed here and  perhaps some of the “theories” if only for the purpose of creating legitimate leads, jogging memories or “growing a conscience;”

  • Vital Statistics: Caucasian Female; DOB – 7-23-1976; 5’ 6” 130 pounds; sandy blonde hair blue eyes;
  • Distinguishing Marks: Pierced ears, dimples, Surgical scar on right hip, metal rod- femur –secondary to  previous car accident
  • Habits- Lifestyle – Vegetarian, smoker, Fluent Spanish speaker, strong southern dialect;
  • Leah spent much time at Cup O’ Joe’s Coffee House
  • One person on-line had this to say about this spot on Hillsborough Street:  “Well, I spend my Saturday afternoons at Cup A Joe on Hillsborough Street. I sit in the back and smoke cigars and work on my laptop. To me, it’s comfortable and the coffee is strong and the cookies are good, but the clientele can be a little weird. They are interesting to look at, though.” (Driving distance from Durham to Hillsborough is 14 miles). This may have been the correct location;
  • Leah dabbled in poetry, and was influenced in outlook at that time in her life by poet, Author,  and Journalist, Jack Kerouac. His public persona and his talented works were a contradiction in terms.  His 1951 book ‘”On the Road” no doubt inspired Leah as she set out on her adventure to “find herself and her true calling in life after many losses.  (From Biography.com: “On the Road,” a barely fictionalized account of these road trips packed with sex, drugs and jazz. Kerouac’s writing of On the Road in 1951 is the stuff of legend: He wrote the entire novel over one three-week bender of frenzied composition, on a single scroll of paper that was 120 feet long.” Jack died in 1969 of alcoholism and an abdominal hemorrhage at age 47.)

 

When Last Seen:

  • Wearing several pieces of gold, diamond and gem  jewelry including 14 carat gold earrings, .3 caret ruby stones, 3 rings on her right hand, 14 caret white gold ring set with .45 carat emerald cut diamond with 2 .07 carat baguette diamonds. (Jewelry may have belonged to her deceased Mother)
  • Leah left college in Durham, North Carolina during her senior year –Year 2000;
  • She left on a cross-country trip on March 9, 2000 and arriving om the west coast in just three days;
  • Leah did not  share her specific plans (in true adventurous spirit), but did notify her roommate that she was not suicidal;
  • Her 1993 white  Jeep  Cherokee was found down an embankment wrecked without her as driver or passenger  ~ 90 miles north of Seattle; The jeep was located on a logging road in Whatcom  County, Washington (setting from a Kerouac novel) nine days after she left North Carolina;
  • Belongings found and identified: Cat Food, guitar, compact discs, checkbook , movie ticket stub, and $2,500 tucked in the pocket of a pair of pants, credit card and driver’s license,
  • Other Observations:  No cat was located or signs of foul play, blankets covered the broken windows (as cover from the elements “for someone”);
  • Reportedly she spent just $100.00 in eight days of travel;
  • Sightings: A witness supposedly observed Leah and called in a tip from at a Texaco gas Station. The man claimed he and his wife observed her 30 moles from the scene of the crash. She was disoriented and did not know her identity. He abruptly ended the call, perhaps out of panic. Police feel this tip was credible. Reports of the Investigation Discovery show, “Disappeared” revealed that her Jeep may have been tampered with– to accelerate on its own;
  • In a Foothills Gazette.com article, Monica Caison is quoted as saying, “She could have been abducted as she walked out of there or that she ran into foul play and they staged it.”
  • “Theories” & Speculation: Picked up by a passing motorist while injured and disoriented on Mount baker Highway with an unknown assailant driving her vehicle where foul play ensued; Abduction & Kidnapping; Leah “staged the crash and decided to start a new life”; Leah wrecked her jeep, hitchhiked to get help, and was kidnapped by someone, Leah wrecked her jeep, hit her head, and is alive with some sort of amnesia.
    Leah was kidnapped sometime before her car crashed, and the kidnapper crashed her car.
  • Leah told two men at a bar-restaurant at lunch she was travelling alone; The perpetrator is a mechanic who tampered with her car and fled to Canada with-without her; She spent the night “in nature” and was removed from the car; A sexual sadist was involved as there was no robbery.  And on and on….  In the past, Leah’s sister, Kara, stated, “Leah was a young woman who was lost. You know by the time Leah was 22 she had lost both of her parents and here she is on the verge of graduating from college and I think she just really felt lost and didn’t have a lot of direction and I feel like she took this trip as a soul-searching trip…I think she just needed to go and get away to clear her mind.”
  • Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office
    Det. Mark Joseph
    (360) 676-6650
    OR
    Whatcom County Dispatch Center
    (360) 676-7722
    (360) 676-6711

 Tour Reviews from previous years:

……..   “a success, a blessing,  “a perpetual voice for missing persons everywhere.”

“This group of compassionate people who work harder than I ever imagined, stays on top of every detail, and at the same time, has time for the family, letting them know they are being heard, and helps in guiding them through what many have already endured first hand.” (Judi Jordan) 

Conclusion:

We honor Leah wherever she may be in 2014. We will never give up searching for her!  It matters not what her reasons were to experience her adventure in the manner she did. She was a free spirit, wanting to enjoy life until evil stepped in her path and the occurrence of circumstances beyond her control. The Community United Effort stands read to take action and mend hearts all across the nation for missing persons.

Donna Ingersoll, CUE Center for MIssing Persons, Road to Remember Tour 2014

Donna Ingersoll

I am so proud to be standing with CUE during their stop in New Haven, Connecticut this year as we honor  2014 National Honoree, Donna Ingersoll, missing from Waubesha, Minnesota since 1990.

PLEASE participate and support the Road to Remember Tour when it comes to your geographic location this year! It is vital to recognize these families and to create increased awareness such that loved ones can, at last be located and a sense of resolution achieved.”

IN THE AFTERMATH OF CRIME: For families of the missing and unsolved homicides who need assistance with completing a customized Victim Impact Statement, See link and contact me

 

 

References:

http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/r/roberts_leah.html

http://foothillsgazette.com/tag/leah-roberts/

http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/leah-toby-roberts/

http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/on-the-road-to-remember-national-tour2014/

http://unsolvedmysteries.wikia.com/wiki/Leah_Roberts

http://greenriverkillings.com/Blog/2011/01/06/disappearance-leah-roberts/

http://www.biography.com/people/jack-kerouac-9363719#synopsis

http://www.city-data.com/forum/raleigh-durham-chapel-hill-cary/242916-funky-comfortable-coffee-house.html

 

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How A Town Heals From Mass Tragedy

 

In the aftermath of the mass homicides of Newtown, CT, I wondered how a town collectively heals after such events.  We have innumerable examples from which to draw for purposes of discussion. What follows is not an exhaustive account, but a sampling of how each tragedy blossomed into positive remembrances.

The primary element,  the motivation in each of these true life occurrences was that the focus was on the humanity and goodness of the victim(s) lost versus the event itself.

The Aftermath of July 23, 2007: The Petit Family Murders:

 

Petit family

Petit Family (photo CBS News)

Following a rampage that included stalking, kidnapping, bank robbery, physical restraint, sexual assault/rape, torture ,murder and arson of Dr. William Petit,  Jr and the three Petit women/girls, the State of Connecticut was shaken to its core. Cries for the death penalty for both offenders and an outpouring of collective grief and support were initiated by people around the globe. That one man could survive and ultimately carry on with life is a major miracle.  How did the sleepy town of Cheshire begin and continue on the path of recovery?

Examples:

1) Within the Cheshire playground, Bartlem Park, lined with inscribed bricks, there is one that reads, “In Memory of the Petits;”

2) Cheshire Academy: Employer of Wife/Mother Jennifer Hawk-Petit. (a former nurse), created memorial garden in her name;

3) Creation of the Petit Family Foundation whose multiple missions include the sponsoring of scholarships in the areas of women pursuing careers in science, families of violent crime and Multiple Sclerosis. (Jennifer Hawk- Petit suffered from MS); Also:

The Aftermath of Columbine High School:

Shooting at Columbine High School

Shooting at Columbine High School (AP Photo/Rocky Mountain News, Rodolfo Gonzalez/file)

April 20, 1999 A rampage by two crazed, depressed male students who were outcasts with a death wish with grandiose ideas to make an unforgettable impact on the world before they went down. The bomb failed, but the bullets seemingly never stopped until 12 students, and one teacher was shot dead, 21 others were injured.

  • The Greater Littletown Youth Initiative: After 13 years, this group composed of school personnel. Mental health professionals, law enforcement and citizens continue to meet every Friday to discuss their children, issues and preventative measures to forestall future attacks: A strong emphasis is placed specifically on “Blueprint” programs.
  • A powerful “Lie-down protest” with dozens of participants by the steps of the State Capital the day after the shootings to plead for tougher gun laws.
  •  Rachael’s Challenge: An outgrowth of kindness and compassion begun at the muddle school level- Anti-bullying;
  • Columbine CD Producer Announces New CD Project Honoring Life of Columbine Victim:
  • A new CD project has been launched by Columbine CD producer honoring the life and legacy of Rachel Joy Scott, the student who gained much notoriety from her death in the tragedy at Columbine High School.
  • Honoring Daniel Welcome to the Daniel Mauser website. This site is dedicated to the memory of Daniel Conner Mauser. Daniel was taken from us in the tragic massacre at Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999.
  • The 10th Anniversary of The Columbine Massacre: About 1,000 people gathered for a sunset memorial service at Clement Park, next to the school, where survivors, relatives and current students reflected on the massacre. A dove was released for each of the 13 victims as principal Frank DeAngelis read their names.

 The Aftermath of the Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University Rampage Shootings

Remembering Virginia Tech Shooting

Remembering Virginia Tech Shooting

On April 16, 2007, 32 students and faculty were killed on campus and 17 others injured in two separate attacks by a deranged student. The massacre prompted the state of Virginia to close legal loopholes that had previously allowed Cho, an individual adjudicated as mentally unsound, to purchase handguns without detection by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The incident prompted schools nationwide to install state-of-the-art notification systems that would broadcast warnings to cellphones, electronic bulletin boards, e-mail accounts and social media. Virginia Tech, especially, began responding to any campus threat.

  • Day of Remembrance: We Remember: Organized runs, candlelight vigils, picnics poetry, music and other events have been part of the remembrance every year…
  • The Annual Day of Remembrance & Website: 32 students and faculty members who were tragically taken from their loved ones and our community on April 16, 2007. They ranged in age from 18 to 76 and represented a variety of academic areas, faith and ethnic groups
  • VT Engage: The Community Learning Initiative: Includes a variety of service projects and grants to inspire VT students to become part of the larger community.
  • The Office of Support & Recovery was initiated after the massacre to facilitate support, commemoration activities, student alerts and provide counseling;

Assassination Attempt of Gabrielle Giffords

Gabrielle Gifford shooting

Gabrielle Gifford shooting (photo/CNN)

The Aftermath of the rampage shootings on January 8, 2011 and attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson Arizona. Six fatalities and 13 additional injured persons were targeted at a supermarket.

  • Americans for Responsible Citizens – Gabby Giffords and husband Mark Kelly’s effort to advocate for responsible gun policies and decrease the power of gun lobbies. ;
  • As of February 2012, the U.S, Navy honored Gabby Giffords by naming a ship in her honor for  supporting the military and veterans, advocating for renewable energy and championing border security,”

 

 The Aftermath of Newtown, CT /Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre- December 14. 2012.

Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting

Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (photo/AP)

A work still in progress with gifts, donations, honors and remembrances of every variety imaginable. However a few words of caution from experts

testifying before the Connecticut Legislature on “Recovering from National Tragedies: How Schools and Communities Recover” February 22, 2013.  Experts Dr. Thomas DeMaria of Long Island NY and the 9/11 Mass Homicides and Dr. Marlene Wong of Los Angeles spoke on this topic.

 

A couple of the many interesting points to keep in mind when formulating recommendations, and implementing policies regarding the outpouring of support and the physical environment of the event:   

1) Dealing with the outpouring of gifts – It is well-intentioned, but can be a real problem and barrier to healing as schools have to rent warehouses to store the goods and figure out how to distribute equitably is a real problem as well as the  increased expenses incurred. More importantly, the access to celebrities and, numerous material goods is not normal in the everyday scheme of life and should be done with care and caution.

2) It is vitally important to change the entire environment in which the event occurred (if it is not razed) such that children feel safe. Historically, they will not enter an environment where they witnessed violence.  Therefore, changing the physical structure, layout, painting, making it bright and welcoming is very important for their healing.

 3) If it is not changed, the scene tends to attract local voyeurs and curiosity seekers, going to the site, wanting to have their photo taken on site etc.

A sign of hope. Both psychologists felt that there is a multitude of support in Newtown and Connecticut,  and that they are better suited than many small towns to deal with the aftermath.  Link:

 “How a town heals is a measure of the goodness of its people.”   DRG

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The Plight of “the Overlooked Victims” – Families of Perpetrators of Crime 

father-241423_640

You might ask, why write about this topic when crime victims should “save their sympathy for the real victims?”  With age, maturity, compassion and increasing exposure to all kinds of circumstances, I try to take an objective view with each situation and attempt not to be judgmental “based on the headlines alone.”   When researching this topic using a variety of search engines, in actuality, there is very limited information about this subject matter. Sometimes that’s the way I like it, as it may make me a “groundbreaking writer.” However, it also says to me that the cards appear to be stacked against the families of perpetrators.

As one example of what misplaced blame can do, we need only to look at the wrongfully convicted and all of the collateral damage done to others for years, Jonathan Fleming’s parents are also victims.

In the past, I have had to bite my tongue at times in conversations about perpetrators. However, never did I accuse the parents of the perpetrator who murdered my father. I saw a glimpse of his father on the TV monitor in another city when we attended the parole hearing of his son in that impersonal Government building located in Waterbury, CT.  However, I could draw no particular conclusions of this man at the time, other than he was there to support his son, who was a career criminal with two murders “to his credit.”  Was he a beaten man because of it? Undoubtedly! Was it his fault that we were sitting in a hearing room 32 years later without the benefit of my father? I could not say that whatsoever, for I knew absolutely nothing about the senior Mr. Herring. I was far more concerned about my mother who “melted into tears” crying uncontrollably face in hands, after giving her victim impact statement to the hearing officers. (A vision that will be forever burned in my brain!)

I feel strongly that the misdeeds of children, whether they are minor or major, should never be blamed on parents “with a broad brush.”  MAKE PEACE…find it in your heart! There are far too many uncontrollable circumstances in every family situation to live with years of guilt and shame.  Parents do make mistakes, as do their children. Although it can be a very tall order, in my humble opinion, parents should sincerely apologize to their children for major misdeeds only, and move on from there, demonstrating their love and commitment in new ways. The guilt is never worth the trouble that weighs upon your health and your soul!  We are all human after all and we can never “turn back the clock.”  Their children need to do the same.

On the other hand, can murder be forgivable? Not in my opinion… but I am not “religious enough” to buy into that whole concept. I say, give punishment to the wrongdoer who should own it… and leave the others in the family alone, for we never can know what has occurred before, nor can we know what burdens they are carrying.

Below are some of the stereotypes we typically hear about perpetrators and their families:   (Which ones do you believe holds true?)

1) His/her parent was never around when he-she was growing up;

2) His/her parent was an alcoholic /drug addict, so what do you expect?

3) His/her parent grew up poor and didn’t have a proper upbringing;

4) His/her parent did not have an education and “grew up on the streets”

5) His/ her parent did not have any good role models;

6) His/her parent became pregnant very young and was never prepared to be a parent;

7) His/her parent could never hold a job, so what do you expect?

8) He/she had an undiagnosed medical problem, with no health insurance that went untreated, so what do you expect?

9) His/her parent-grandparent spent time in prison, so what do you expect? (Listen to past radio show with Marilyn Gambrell)

10) His/her family grew up on welfare abusing the system, so what do you expect?

11) His brothers/sisters were also in trouble with the law, so what do you expect?

12) His/her parents were “crazy,” had guns in the home, so what do you expect?

Examples of Reaching Across the Defense Table Few And Far Between:

Audrey Mabrey, from Tampa, Florida is a SURVIVOR of intimate partner violence. She was a featured speaker during National Crime Victim’s Right’s Week in 2012.

Mabry’s estranged husband attacked her with a hammer, doused her with gasoline and set her on fire in 2009.  He was sentenced to life in prison.

She made the conscious decision become a survivor versus a victim.

Audrey put her grief, anger and physical pain aside to say: “The families of the perpetrators also can be victims, she said, and they also need support.  Mabrey’s brother was convicted of double homicide in Texas and has been on death row for 13 years, she said.

Audrey commented, “Their mother could have used the same support I received. It’d be great, if Hillsborough could get funding for additional counselors. It can be extremely devastating for both sides,” she said.

In 2008, Anna Carolina wrote the following about how she and her family were treated after a family member was incarcerated:

“….You are left shunned and isolated as if you are in your own prison cell. After you have endured the arrest; news coverage; trial and the consequent incarceration, you are lucky you have any of your family and old friends. Regardless of their guilt or innocence the presumption of innocence is never acknowledged. The victim’s rights groups rally around the victim and everyone lends their support and comfort. While you are alone, confused, scared, suffering and watching your world fall apart.”

DOES ANYONE CARE about the voices never heard?

child-17387_640Family members of the perpetrator cling together, praying, hoping for the light at the end of the tunnel.  They are heartbroken by the family members that never stood behind them. They  have forgotten their loved one. They are hurt by society that looks down on families of inmates.  They are destroyed by all the negative press and publicity. They are let down by the people they thought were their friends. They are sold out by a system that they thought was JUST. They trusted in the system to do what was JUST. You wish you could turn back time and hold that baby boy in your arms again!

How many families are there hurting as is my family? How many families are forgotten by society? I never knew about this hurt until I was launched into the internet. I thought we were all alone. I felt all alone. The pain associated with justice and prison leaves a devastating mark. Whether the person in prison is innocent or not, these families should receive the love and comfort as anyone else suffering such a loss. It is a great loss to that family and their loved ones. Their lives will never be the same; There are over two million of us in this country. We may not have the support of society, but we can support each other.

In February 2008, Cassandra Wells whose family member was also incarcerated stated, in part:

“Through this process we have discovered there is not much support for families in crisis when they are the families of perpetrators of crime. There are fabulous support programs for victims of crime and their families as there should be, but the other innocent victims are not catered for and there is a need for this hole to be filled….”

Society deems that the offender, having committed the crime is no longer entitled to family and we the family of the perpetrator is often viewed as strange if we stay together or deserve no support as we are just as bad as the person who committed the crime.

This socially unacceptable reason for family separation compounds the grief process for all involved, especially the innocent children. They often do not understand what their parent has done. They ask:  Why they did it? What did they do to make their parent commit the crime? Are they going to turn out the same as their parent?  Many are embarrassed to share their pain at school in fear of being bullied or isolated and many do not want to add to the caring parent’s pain, so keep emotions close to themselves. This may then result in acting out behaviors or reclusive behaviors all because a family is not able to access the family support required to deal with such a situation.

In order to break family cycles of criminal behavior, society needs to not only invest in victim support programs but also in families of perpetrators support programs so that as a society we can start to see a decline in the statistics.”

Conclusion:

It appears from the “lack of ink” and the lack of resources set aside regarding support for perpetrators’ families as victims, that we have become very myopic in the way we deliver services to victims. Will it ever change such that there is more of a balance?  Not unless “guilt by association” is erased from the minds of an unenlightened public.

 

“The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter.”
Norman Cousins

The Plight of “the Overlooked Victims” – Families of Perpetrators of Crime

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