I have come to realize that working with other crime victims is never a “one and done proposition” when you have invested with your heart as well as your other skills.
In the beginning, you have a specific assignment, your procedures, your time frame, your technical assistance waiting in the wings, your “cut to the chase priorities” if needed.
You anticipate need, you craft questions and ways to elicit information that are most helpful. You know how to interview and you have learned that listening to both what is said and not said are equally important. You underestimate your time when time is the most precious commodity.
Changing your Mindset
Sometimes as professionals, (whether paid or unpaid) we sell ourselves short, for we may think that these vulnerable people who have joined the “victim of violent club” entered kicking and screaming just like us, oh so long ago. As seasoned victim advocates, we must clear out the cobwebs and put ourselves in their role again, not a comfortable position. However, your pain must be dredged up, now to be used as a teaching tool for others. You must set your personal opinions aside and be the victim, apart from the horrendous crime. You must comfort, carefully sprinkling realism on what they may think or may learn from television or biased media reports.
Ready, Set, Go-Maybe…
You are providing a service ready to go on specified date, but alas, keep in mind that your “colleague in crime” may be grief-stricken, not able to communicate, organize thoughts, not able to go to work, rise from bed on that day, answer e-mails or phone calls. If they can’t face the world today, they can’t be ready for you. You must be prepared. You walk that delicate balance of providing a sense of hope that they will make it through. Although their lives are irreparably changed forever, someday something positive will blossom in their lives because of, in spite o,f the awful event that took their loved one from this earth. However, you must not make promises you can’t keep.
The Judicial System
When dealing with the judicial system, they must be prepared that weak evidence, lack of evidence, contradictory evidence ,circumstantial evidence and lack of DNA (the “magic bullet” can all be part of the uncertainty for the jury and hence, reasonable doubt. No matter how much you love your family member and present a fair and balanced picture to the court, the defense can and does readily put the victim on trial, exposing all matter of skeletons in one’s closet! If the victim was complicit in the crime, not an innocent victim by legal standards, or if mitigating factors are present (any information or evidence presented to the court regarding the defendant or the circumstances of the crime that might result in reduced charges or a lesser sentence). This includes the very real possibility of a plea bargain-deal.
The Brand New Victim
Is not resilient, cannot anticipate, frequently has few people with whom to compare notes. When discussing their cases with family members (who are often at different places emotionally) more questions than answers are generated, with few if any timely answers. They are resentful, depressed, very angry and so very disillusioned.
The Seasoned Victim Advocate Providing a Service
Provides a lifeline; a yardstick against which to measure the starts and stops, ebb and flow of the process. But most importantly, when hearts ans souls are involved, it is NOT a “One and done”, ‘Bye, see ya’, “Have a nice life.” How can it possibly be so when you are spiritually kindred souls? A valuable connection has been made when a new crime victim puts their trust in you to “paint the true picture” of their precious loved one. Afterall, isn’t that that way life should be?
You hope for a connection that will last. Even if it cannot be for whatever reason, you know in your heart of hearts, you truly have made a difference and are with them spiritually when they deliver their customized victim impact statement in the mahogany laden room where they hope justice will prevail! This is one of the most difficult chapters. But truly, it will never “be over” for a crime victim. he fat lady of the opera never sings…. However, victims can and do evolve from victimization to survivor, and sometimes, a thriver- all very important distinctions!
For assistance with creating customized Victim Impact Statements for families experiencing homicide with sufficient preparation time, see the following link- https://donnagore.com/victim-impact-statement-assistance/
To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity.Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org