Every crime victim has at least one “back story.” They are the stories that the media doesn’t report, doesn’t know, doesn’t care about, particularly in the manner of humanizing the victim and not focusing solely on the perpetrator. Back stories contain the victimology, the inspirational moments, the turning points in life.
For assistance in creating a personalized victim impact statement, I offer my services nationally for those who feel they aren’t in a position to objectively present their innermost feelings to the court. Refer to Victim Impact Statement Assistance
Two examples of victim impact “back stories” from different perspectives
The brutal rape of Anne Heck from Asheville, North Carolina as told in 2004:
“There was the initial impact of his fist hitting my face, the impact of him throwing my bike into the bushes, the impact of his body forcing itself into mine. Then there were the blazing sirens that delivered me to the hospital, my body becoming the source of evidence, my swollen face in the mirror, and the pain in friends’ faces. But there was something much deeper. Now, 14 years later, I was faced with the task of communicating this impact; it was not easily put into words.”
The Day of the Rape: I was raped in July 1990. It was a beautiful summer day and I was enjoying a road trip on my bicycle exploring back roads. I loved the freedom I felt on two wheels with the sun on my back. What a stark contrast this incident was to my intention for that day.
Growth “The day I was raped, I learned about friendship and kindness ….when a stranger picked me up along that dusty road and took me crumpled and terror-stricken to the closest paramedic unit. A rather new acquaintance made calls to dentists for me. I had two teeth that were knocked out-of-place and a kind doctor agreed to stay late to help me. Unfortunately, the teeth were irreparable, the roots damaged. I would eventually have to have root canals and other reparative work done to them.”
“I learned about letting go… as I had my favorite blue biking shorts and shirt, stained with blood, bagged by police and taken away for evidence.”
“I grew into new ways of viewing my freedom…. as I had my trusty touring bike covered in black fingerprint dust returned to my apartment. It sat untouched for weeks.”
“I remember with disgust… the volunteer at the hospital who came into my room to read scripture and tell me I could be forgiven for my sins. I experienced what it felt like to be shunned at the health center when I went in for a pregnancy test and shared that I had been raped.”
The feelings Anne described included fuzziness, deep fear, hypersensitivity to noise, inability to tolerate crowds, or strangers, the fact that “the emotions were trapped in her body” when trying to glean the benefit from counseling.” She drew a picture of her attacker in an attempt to purge herself of the fear.
Surprisingly, Anne learned patience whether it be with counseling or the results of her HIV test. She also stated, “While I do not condone (perpetrator) Mr. McDonald’s act and feel he should receive his just sentence,…“I have come to accept this as a chapter of my life that has provided me with the potential for my personal healing and development.”
Moving Beyond: The year after her rape and much counseling, Anne left her Virginia home to find a support system and a peaceful place in which to heal, she began training as a rape crisis counselor and speaker. Self defense classes came next and initiating assertiveness training, shedding her former teaching job. The horrific attack began to fade into the background of her life, HOWEVER, there was an ever-present severe pain in her hips and pelvis. How to relieve the pain and inability to walk, to capture complete healing, if possible?
Enter the detective in her case with news. She and her two young children were ready to “put this chapter away”. In fact, in her words she says, “I believe I’m blessed to have the opportunity to experience this part of my healing process. This event is for me a symbolic statement of hope fulfilled and justice served and most importantly, it demonstrates the power of choosing my own strength.”
The Aftermath: On August 23, 2004, Terry L. McDonald, (who was serving a 48-year sentence for sexual assault in West Virginia,) pleaded guilty in Prince William County, Virginia Circuit Court to rape and abduction with intent to defile. The Judge in this case was asked to give McDonald the maximum punishment—two life terms in prison—at his October 29 sentencing.
Full Circle: When she returned to Virginia for the sentencing. She also took her bike and declared her freedom on those dusty backroads!
For more information about Anne Heck refer to her website.
A Father’s and a Husband’s Story from Australia- Victim Impact Statement May 19, 2013
September 28, 2012 Jill Meager was an ABC radio broadcaster in Melbourne, Australia and was remembered by her peers as “an important member of our local radio team, a vibrant organizing presence at 774 Melbourne, a key liaison for our local radio stations across Victoria and a valued partner in the administrative team supporting local radio around the country, as a widely known, universally respected and much-loved, with a great career ahead of her.”
The body of the Irish-born 29-year-old was abducted and her body was found a week later in a field, northwest of Melbourne. Adrian Ernest Bayley, 41 was charged with her rape and murder. Jill walked along a road at 1:40 am where this perpetrator wearing a blue hoodie called to her.
George McKeon, 55, Father of Jill Meagher speaks for him and his wife:
- A father has a stroke, with inspiration from a daughter to live to “have future grandchildren to run around with;”
- A mother’s words recounting childhood memories,
- Lamenting what could have been and “life stopping” as they know it;
- Jill’s personality – funny, intelligent with huge empathy;
- As described by Jill’s mother ,Edith (Who was ill and could not attend to deliver her victim impact statement) “A couple’s relationship changes after 30 years of marriage – Dealing with the loss in different ways –The emotional harm is devastating, We are inconsolable. The links of the four of us have been shattered…
- The Aftermath -Emotions felt – Catastrophic, sad, lonely, with anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia
- Rebuilding a new life is very sad… as a mother, “I have been given a life sentence.”
Thomas Meagher Jill’s Husband:
- First Encounter – “awkward” followed by an 11 year adventure
- Jill embodied everything I could ask … her thirst for life … Sher pulled me through difficult times and “pulled me up even higher in good times.”
- All things stolen from me… love, my best friend, our future
- My world view of good has been shaken to the core…
- I hesitate to leave my apartment. I have nightmare. I have been forced to move
- I am constantly confused, disoriented and unfocused
- The intrusion of the police investigation – . Quite simply, my life will never be the same again.”
- I miss waking up on Sunday and having breakfast at 2 pm.
- I think of the waste of a brilliant mind and the beautiful soul at the hands of a grotesque and soulless human being.’ I am half a person because of this crime.”
Sentencing: Adrian Bayley was sentenced to life in prison, with a 35-year non-parole period, for the rape and murder of Jill Meagher. Judge Geoffrey Nettle said that he subjected Meagher to a “savage and degrading” assault and that his multiple previous attacks on women demanded that he be sent to prison for a lengthy period.
Conclusion: Whether you are “An ordinary person out for nature’s adventures on your bike,”or whether you are a talented radio broadcaster, it matters not. Pain and loss is the same. How we cope and “face the world for a new day” is the most tie that binds all humanity.
Additional References: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/abc-employee-jill-meaghers-family-devastated-by-her-death/story-e6frg6nf-1226483095816