Victim Impact Statement Tips for Homicide Survivors, Part II

 

Victim Impact Statement

This is a series of articles on the importance of the Victim Impact Statement including tips that I have gathered over the years from my personal experience as a homicide survivor, from others, and from those I have been able to assist in writing this critical document.

Expressing fear for your personal safety and the right to be reasonably protected is one of your State Constitutional rights, currently active in 33 states, under the Federal Statute enacted in October 2004 by the Reagan Administration.

But, what does it really mean to be reasonably protected? According to the Crime Victim’s Act of 2004:

2.11 Release or Detention Pending Sentence or Appeal

If there is an issue whether the defendant may be released pending sentencing or appeal, victims must be notified of the hearing and provided an opportunity to be heard. As noted earlier, section 3771(a)(1) provides that crime victims have the right “to be reasonably protected from the accused.” Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 46, the defendant has the burden of establishing that he or she does not “pose a danger to any other person or to the community.”

An educated guess concerning not posing a danger after many years of incarceration, no matter the number of crimes or how heinous the crimes may have been, might be house arrest, wearing a GPS device, being employed under constant supervision, and probation. However, reality tells us that probation is overburdened, GPS technology fails, and there are not enough staff to adequately monitor prisoners when on the outside.

What are the provisions made for surviving victims who are elderly, medically challenged, or victims who happen to be disabled?  Will the system provide real protection other than the usual bureaucratic responses?

In my personal case, I do not feel confident. I do not feel secure in the knowledge that the person who murdered my father will necessarily leave us in peace.  Rest assured that I will not quit until I know what reasonably protected truly means in practical terms. In the final analysis, the Pardon and Parole Board or the Court’s decision is just another decision in just another workday for most hearing officers, with nothing to differentiate them.

For those with able bodies and minds, I offer our natural resources as an option, if and when personal terror invades.     

The fight or flight response is a physiological response to acute stress when an imminent threat is present, real or perceived, either physically or mentally. This occurs naturally by triggering hormones which prepare your body to stay and deal with the threat effectively or flee from the situation. The manner in which this occurs includes the triggering of chemicals from your adrenal glands resulting in increased heart rate, breathing for increased energy, blood rushing to your brain and extremities and trembling due to muscular tension.  

Whether your brain and body choses flight or fight at the crucial moment to protect, I can’t say.  As for me, I can’t flee effectively, so I’ll have to depend upon my intellect to save me, which is what I have always done.

Within the context of your Victim Impact Statement you should relay your fears, as well as whether your current conditions to be reasonably protected are favorable to the decisions to be made by the court. Express your expectations on what reasonably protected means to you and your family.

For more tips on victim impact statements:

Victim Impact Statement: Tips for Homicide Survivors, Part I


 

DonnaGore-2

If  you need assistance with writing a professional Victim Impact Statement, please refer to the Victim Impact Statement FAQ’s on this site.

To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or  conference please contact:

ImaginePublicity,  Telephone: 843.808.0859  Email:  contact@imaginepublicity.com

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Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water, I Will Lay Me Down…….

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(Lessons of a Court Escort)

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I’m on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

When you’re down and out,
When you’re on the street,
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part.
When darkness comes
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Sail on silver girl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

There is no greater calling than to be a volunteer court escort.  It’s a bit like a tour guide, “an educator by fire,” a grief counselor, a criminal justice spectator and a human bridge over troubled water….

The fact that there are never enough victim advocates to adequately represent or support crime victims when they are the most vulnerable, during the complex court proceedings is a given…. This is true whether we are talking about the 1980’s and 1990’s when I volunteered for the job, or in current times.

It is the court process that is the most intrusive, the most impersonal and the most mysterious to the average citizen. ***It is this part of the victim experience where we feel most vulnerable, where a bridge is needed… more than any other time…

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I’m on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found,

If citizens try to rely on their knowledge of what seems fair, or their knowledge of the plethora of criminal TV shows, watch out!  You will be proven wrong in almost all aspects.

According to my research, only the states Connecticut and Pennsylvania have abolished the use of grand juries to return indictments, but kept the investigating grand jury. Both used a constitutional amendment approved by the electorate to abolish the indicting grand jury. Connecticut replaced the grand jury’s determination of probable cause with a hearing before a judge.

Grand juries in every state plus the District of Columbia can investigate criminal activity. This is even true in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, which eliminated the indicting grand jury. In so doing, Connecticut also abolished the use of “civilian” grand juries; instead of being composed of ordinary citizens, its investigating grand jury is made up of between one and three judges.

Again, my home state is either on the edge of innovation or always the exception to the rule in how things are done. (Bloggers, please refer to “Voir Dire, Oh Dear” for yet another example)  Alas, there is a fine line between innovation and annoyance…

That brings up another source of potential annoyance – whether a particular sitting judge chooses to follow our State Constitution’s Victim’s Bill of Rights.  The rights appear logical and practical, yet many judges tend to overlook the victim more often than not in the criminal process.

The pendulum has swung somewhat towards victim rights in recent years. However, to the unsuspecting “crime victim spectator”, it is, unfortunately, the “criminal’s show.” It is seemingly all about the criminal’s right to a fair trial and nothing else.  If the victim is mentioned personally, it is often in a disparaging way, to paint that person as tainted and therefore, not worthy of justice.

For those who may be unfamiliar with just what are the true rights of a crime victim, I give you The State of Connecticut’s version as an example.

 

 

Constitution of the State of Connecticut
Article XXIX – Rights of Victims of Crime

In all criminal prosecutions, a victim, as the general assembly may define by law, shall have the following rights:

  1. 1. The right to be treated with fairness and respect throughout the criminal justice process;
  2. 2. The right to timely disposition of the case following arrest of the accused, provided no right of the accused is abridged;
  3. 3. The right to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process;
  4. 4. The right to notification of court proceedings;
  5. 5. The right to attend the trial and all other court proceedings the accused has the right to attend, unless such person is to testify and the court determines that such person’s testimony would be materially affected if such person hears other testimony;
  6. 6. The right to communicate with the prosecution;
  7. 7. The right to object to or support any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecution and to make a statement to the court prior to the acceptance by the court of the plea of guilty or nolo contendere by the accused;
  8. 8. The right to make a statement to the court at sentencing;
  9. 9. The right to restitution which shall be enforceable in the same manner as any other cause of action or as otherwise provided by law; and

10. The right to information about the arrest, conviction, sentence, imprisonment and release of the accused.

The right to be treated with fairness sets the tone and is the ultimate desire for any crime victim.  However, “fairness” is a laughable term, for we know that if life was fair, God was fair, the criminal justice system was fair, we wouldn’t even be in this “courtroom of horrors.”

When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part.
When darkness comes
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Being in a criminal court is a visceral experience – the check in process, the metal detector, the personal search, the feel of the hard benches, the endless delays and objections by the defense, The lack of creature comforts,  the stifling of all emotion by the victim’s family and friends with the threat of banishment hanging over your head, the humiliation of “painting the victim as criminal;” The feeling of being out of the loop and at a constant disadvantage as if the people before you are speaking a foreign language that you truly don’t understand….

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down….

So I ask you, what can a fellow survivor of crime do to ease the pain as a court escort?  Well…

1)    Your mere presence is powerful and comforting to the “new victim.”

2)    Ask the new victim how you can best help them? (i.e. Answer their questions or ask the assigned victim advocate, Take notes for them, Go for water, deliver a sandwich; Assist them in the restroom as a possible place to cry, scream with you present);

*** The number one request from a new victim is ALWAYS information related- as to why/why not something is/is not happening, why their prosecutor is not sharing information, not returning phone calls, why it is taking so long etc.  For selected questions, there are no answers. For others, the victims are “kept in the dark” on certain aspects of the case for strategic reasons, to shield the family or if a deal may be in the process of negotiation.  Still others may be a quirk of the prosecutor’s personality or “just part of the process.”

3)You can explain what will happen regarding the law and rules of the court.( Do your homework first and check with your state’s Judicial  Department  and Office of Victim Services);

4) Relate what is expected in terms of “court etiquette,” what the reputation of the various players is, (if you know) (including presiding judge and attorneys);

5) Relate your own court experience, but advise the new victim that as each case is unique, the ultimate outcome is also individual;

6) Do not project an overly optimistic or negative attitude.  This is difficult, as you want to be encouraging, but realistic….

7)    Give positive reinforcement if needed, for their perseverance in sitting  for lengthy periods, exhibiting patience and comporting themselves as a “classy  person” in the face of such pressure.***  It is very important to juries to see that the victim’s family is present and involved in the court process as much as possible.

A wonderfully illustrative case of court escorting is in the process of a just conclusion after 22 long years! The case is known to this day as the Prospect Café Murder.  Adam Zach, a privileged kid with a “little Napolean-like demeanor” and affluent family, took offense to an off-handed remark about “spit shining the bar,” left  the tavern and returned to shoot in the back, a fine young man, named Peter Carone.

This writer met Addie Carone, a former social worker and matriarch of the Carone family at a Survivor’s of Homicide meeting.  This writer had the honor of becoming involved in their lives in the most intimate ways, particularly as a volunteer court escort in Hartford, CT following the March 1987 homicide.

I vividly recall Addie’s frustration, anger and class displayed during the public court process.  What happed in the bathroom was a snapshot of her release of emotion and rage that we all feel… and must display, or it will eventually destroy us emotionally and physically.   I recall, due to the former CT statutes, convicted felon, Adam Zachs being convicted and sentenced to 60 years and released to his parents “as long as they agreed to search his room for weapons.”

Following this miscarriage of justice, and much hard work, Addie was instrumental in subsequently changing the Connecticut law such that a convicted felon can no longer be released from prison while the case is on appeal!

Money talks….  It was reported that the Zach’s family hid felon Adam in Israel and then Mexico.  Using all of the criminal justice resources, the FBI and international officials, it was rumored over the years that Adam had, with the help of family, fled to Mexico.  His fugitive status remained illusive. It was known that he had a Mexican girlfriend and was featured on John Walsh’s, America’s Most Wanted (Fugitives) twice!

AMW narrative accompanying his “mug shot” and initial reward read as follows:

On August 23, 1988, at the conclusion of a jury trial, Adam Mark Zachs was convicted of murder and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Pending appeal, this deadly killer was released on a bond. In June of 1989, Zachs failed to appear at a scheduled court hearing and a warrant for failure to appear was issued by a judge in the Superior Court of Connecticut on June 27, 1989. A federal arrest warrant charging Zachs with unlawful flight to avoid confinement was issued on July 24, 1989, in the United States District Court, Hartford, Connecticut. Therefore, a reward of up to $50,000 has been offered by the FBI for information leading directly to the capture of Adam Mark Zachs.

And then….  On Tuesday February 1st, 2011, Zachs, 47, was arrested in Leon Guanajuato, Mexico, Tuesday and is being held in Mexico City, police said.  Zachs, who was living under an assumed name, had a wife and children in Mexico and worked in the computer repair business there.

Although the case is still under investigation, Zachs will be escorted back to Connecticut to begin serving his 60 year sentence.  Lo and behold, a hairdresser at my salon revealed yesterday that she used to cut both the victim and the murderer’s hair!  Small world….  This writer sent Addie, now age 83, a lovely and bright yellow floral arrangement last week!

Sail on silver girl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind.

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

Respectfully submitted,

Donna R. Gore

Homicide Survivor in Connecticut

2-13-2011

UPDATE TO CASE OF ADAM ZACHS-PETER CARONE

(Article from the Hartford Courant- April 5, 2011)

Connecticut’s congressional delegation has asked Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to help bring convicted murderer Adam Zachs back to West Hartford.

Zachs, 47, was arrested in Leon, Mexico, on Feb. 1, and is being held in Mexico City. Connecticut has filed paperwork requesting his extradition and is awaiting a response from Mexican authorities.

Zachs fled in 1989 while appealing his prison sentence for shooting Peter Carone at the Prospect Café in West Hartford. Police said the men had been watching an NCAA basketball tournament game in 1987 when an argument started. The two went outside and scuffled, and Zachs shot Carone in the back with a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, according to testimony at Zachs’ trial.

In a letter to Clinton last month, the state’s congressional delegation asked that she provide the legal and diplomatic assistance necessary to enforce a 1978 extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico. It also asked Clinton to see that Zachs is extradited as soon as possible.

The lawmakers have not received a response to their letter. Clinton will respond directly to the lawmakers and not through the media, said Andy Laine, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman’s office drafted the letter sent to Clinton. His office said that when it was contacted by both the West Hartford Police Department and the Carone family about the extradition, it decided to discuss the matter with the rest of the congressional delegation. The letter to Clinton was signed by the state’s two U.S. senators and five U.S. representatives.

Jim Carone, brother of Peter Carone, said his family sent Lieberman’s office a letter to remind people that Zachs had still not been returned to the U.S. The family and the police department want to keep the case’s profile high, Carone said.

Carone said it was hard for his family to wait while the extradition process plays out. Although the murder trial was years ago, his family still has an interest in what happens to Zachs, he said, adding that whatever happens will not change the fact that his brother was killed.

“The wrong has already been done,” he said.

 


PRISON PROGRAMMING – IS IT A PANACEA?

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I suppose you could call me a state government junkie…as well as an information junkie. As a state employee, I feel it is my duty to keep informed. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I downgraded my cable service long ago to “basic” to save about $600 a year. Therefore, I watch a lot of political affairs shows interspersed with my Netflix DVDs of choice.

It is a minimalist life, but a fine compromise for me in my considerable quest to change careers and offer my talents and services to the Southern California or San Diego community. (Hopefully, in the near future).

Given the above, I was perfectly content to watch a series of parole hearings sponsored by the State of Connecticut Department of Corrections during a recent Saturday night dinner in front of the TV.

(Author’s Note- There is approximately 3.5 million residents in Connecticut, 19 state prisons and 1 federal prison (not counting county jails).

The hearing consisted of three officers, two male, one female and a parole officer. (Male) As I viewed the parade of offenders, I noted many things of interest to a survivor of violent crime.

Each offender looked similar, and presented similar crimes. However, there was a wide array of articulateness, perceived intelligence or lack thereof, aptitude for verbal expression and motivation. This should come as no surprise when one thinks of the make up of the general population.

The hearing officers, who were doing their job to the best of their ability, went through the procedures in a rather bland and rote manner. They were perfect in their social etiquette, saying “Good morning” to each offender, wishing them a Happy New Year, addressing each by their Sir Name etc.

Questions involved prison behavior, how many infractions they received and why, who was in their life as a support system; inquiring as to their plans for the future, whether they had acquired a GED; what programs they attended and liked best. Occasionally, they asked if “Mr. Offender” had any remorse for their victims.

Time after time, when asked about the programming the offender had participated in, the majority would name one or two programs, followed by:

“I signed up for “X program” but they don’t offer it here” or (more typically) “There is a waiting list of at least a year.”

This author recalls watching many legislative hearings in the past and learning that our state has an excessive number of programs on the books for Connecticut offenders, both within the confines of the cement walls and as part of a non-profit re-entry program into civilized society.

In fact, the Department of Corrections currently offers an alphabetical compendium of programs listed as “Offender Programs and Victim Services Unit.” Consisting of 264 pages of offerings! Upon close examination, almost without exception they are meant for prisoners and not for the benefit of victims. Granted, not every program is continuously offered…. But still…

Although my allegiance is always for the survivor of crime first and foremost….

What is wrong with the picture I have painted thus far? Plenty! 264 pages and inmates are on waiting lists for a year or more… Why is this so?

At considerable expense, we are supposed to mold offenders into responsible citizens. We clothe, feed, educate, skill train, provide parenting classes, assist in ridding substance abuse and other addictions, provide role models, domestic violence and other forms of counseling, AIDS treatment, mental health remediation, and all other forms of medical, social and emotional treatment necessary.

Why is the wait to rehabilitate so long? I can think of a few reasons…

1) Lack of instructors – A chosen few pursues the calling to work with offenders in these oppressive environments. Most do not;

2) Bottlenecks in the system– You can only re-arrange the deck chairs so many ways. Let’s say a class or training has the capacity for 30 student inmates. Perhaps, for whatever reason, those who qualify withdraw or are de-selected for tickets/infractions. The process may be held up further for approving the next candidates who are waiting because of the actions of others before them. If inmates require these classes for re-entry, another year in prison waiting for a program is indeed a long wait.

3) Supply and Demand– The demand for specific programs is so great in a particular geographic area, that the supply is always far less than the need.

4) Warehousing– Those who would otherwise be in the mainstream of society are taking up prison space and using resources needlessly as they wait for in-house programs, or housing on the outside.

Highly respected and retired DOC Commissioner, Theresa C. Lanz established a priority of supporting offender re-integration when she changed the model from strict confinement to community re-entry under supervision in the mid and late 1990’s. The transitional services overview on the DOC website states, “Since more than 95 percent of offenders (19,000+ currently) will eventually be released from prison, the department already offers extensive educational/vocational, substance abuse, parenting and other programs that will aid in supporting that transition…

A key component is stakeholders-including other state agencies such as the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Department of Social Services. the Department of Labor and the Department of Veteran Affairs as well as community based advocacy groups.”

As of January 2009 when the information was updated, those stakeholders contracted just 1,299 halfway house beds and supervised more than 3,500 additional “low risk offenders” in the community. Connecticut has increased its use of mental health professionals in the courts and created increased funding for its diversionary programs.

However, this author’s opinion is that the lack of sufficient beds in the community and the “not in my neighborhood” stance when it comes to group homes and halfway houses often places ex- prisoners in overcrowded homeless shelters.

So, are they left to languish in prison waiting for their required programs to become available, thus getting into further altercations? Or do they hope to transfer to another DOC facility where the program is available so that they can meet the parole rule minimum of 50% incarceration and then into the community with “whatever supports are available” ensuring public safety?

For the blog reader, a sampling of the 264 page program offerings:

  • Action Drama – A highly acclaimed outreach drama program;
  • Addiction Services- Tiers I-IV
  • Administrative Segregation- A Better Way- Video series on life changing behaviors
  • Career Exploration Fair;
  • Aids Awareness Group;
  • Alternatives to Violence- basic, intermediate and advanced
  • Bicycle and Wheelchair Repair;
  • Braille Program- Enables inmates in protective custody to be trained as a qualified pool of Braille writers assisting blind people in CT (Overseen by staff at this author’s agency)
  • Cage your Rage for Women;
  • Circle of Strength Dual Diagnosis Program;
  • Cosmetology/Barbering;
  • Default- Monthly education and therapy group for cancer survivors;
  • DUI Program;
  • Empowerment Book Club;
  • Family Matters- Designed for young men with estranged family relations;
  • Gambling- The Better Choice Program;
  • Girl Scouts Behind Bars- Volunteers from the Girl Scouts bring daughters of inmates to the facility for creative activities;
  • Grief and Adjustment;
  • Health Lecture Series;
  • Hospitality Operations Technology- Student preparation work in the hospitality industry;
  • Incarcerated Veteran’s Program;
  • Intramural Sports- participants must be ticket free;
  • Juman- Weekly Islamic worship;
  • Marker Plate Manufacturing- (Author’s Note- Yes, Virginia, they still make license plates in prison)
  • Mindful Living Meditation;
  • Resume Builder-Computer Skills;
  • V.O.I.C.E.S- Victim- Offender Institutional Correctional Educational Services-
  • Volunteer supported group to “broaden inmates understanding and sensitivity to the impact of their crime on others.

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful society if, at birth, we had a 264 page list of “programs for life” offered to new parents rather than those for incarcerated people? All of these programs and resources could be put to good use “in preparation for life in the community” from the baby’s and parent’s first coo. The A through Z menu could be used starting with “P” for parenting classes and choosing others along the way as needed, thus virtually eliminating the need for prisons. What a concept!


“Ask Me No Questions and I’ll Tell You No Lies”

There is no denying a survivor of crime’s pain no matter what form it takes, whether it is homicide, stalking, assault, domestic violence, a hate crime, home invasion, kidnapping etc., they all represent long lasting violations on the human condition.

However, as a homicide survivor, I cannot stand in judgment of those who have experienced any one of these types of crimes. For me to pre-suppose and say I have “walked in their shoes” would seem somewhat arrogant. Why….? ‘Because an apple is not identical to an orange….. My environment, education and life experience is unique unto me and therefore, I cannot say “I know what you are going through” in the true sense. But, we do have commonalities. This is what keeps me humble, for I really don’t have any idea what anyone is burdened with on a day to day basis, irrespective of crime.

It struck me when reading about someone else‘s victimization recently that I cannot embrace everyone’s pain all of the time. I am one of the most compassionate people on earth. BUT, it cannot be squandered. In the language of professional therapists, I believe they refer to “compassion fatigue,” a type of burnout, as a very real pitfall in certain professions.

I raise these issues as I want to discuss the difference between “Victim” versus “Survivor” and “Entitlement” versus “Reality.” I can personally affiliate with a number of oppressed minorities should I choose to, at any given time. These include –female, LGBT community member, physically challenged member, homicide survivor, lefty/left-handed, person surviving a ridiculous number of surgical procedures as a child…..

Given all of these minority based affiliations, I am well aware of the difference between victims versus survivor.

I caution all survivors of crime, that if we are not careful to protect our psyche, we can easily step over the line.

According to the 2010 Random House dictionary a “Victim” can be:


1) A person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency: (as in a victim of an automobile accident).

2) A person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency: (as in a victim of misplaced confidence; the victim of a swindler; a victim of an optical illusion).

3) A person or animal sacrificed or regarded as sacrificed (as in war victims).

4) A living creature sacrificed in religious rites.

(You can judge for yourself whether these are illuminating examples of “victim hood.” DRG)

I can attest to the fact that we are sufferers of destruction and injury, deceived and cheated, at times by our own emotions and sacrificed at the expense of others’ actions.

“Survivor” definitions that apply can be:

1) A person or thing that survives.

2) A person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

***The second definition, ladies and gentlemen, is what we strive for and the equivalent of the “Take Back the Night” rallies.

Entitlement Definition: To give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something; furnish with grounds for laying claim.

(Such a definition appears hollow and without substance or context. DRG).

Aren’t we entitled to our rights as crime victims? Aren’t we entitled to our anger and respect? Aren’t we entitled to revenge…. Or to have our loved one back again…or our body and mind restored to health …or to feel safe again? We are entitled, aren’t we?

Contrast Entitlement with Reality, or the knowledge that life, indeed is more often “not fair” despite our best efforts. Survivors of crime eventually come to know that they cannot resolve the “why me why us” and must move on to address the “what next” instead!

So, when crime happens to you, what is your alternative? You sit around the circle of the support group and listen, or cry, or contribute. Alternately, you can become an advocate/activist or you can become stuck in your anger until it destroys the fiber of your being. You may also continue to deny, place blame on everyone else for your prolonged dysfunction or escape to a fantasy world. All of these negative responses feel like lies, as they are not “who we used to be.”

**But the bigger lie is to not place blame squarely on the perpetrator(s) and at times, the vulnerability and/ or unwise decisions of those murdered. It’s a slippery slope when you allow your emotions to become an indictment of society as a whole. You have so many conflicting emotions that you lose perspective.

In my opinion, the difference between being a victim and a survivor is huge. The key to crossing over to survivor status is motivation. I can say with certainty that we all start out as a victim- a victim of the event itself a victim of circumstances that follow, a victim of “the system.” And then, slowly but surely, if we are fortunate enough to receive support and counseling designed specifically for this experience, we see that wallowing in our own victimization ends up being worse than death itself and a luxury we cannot afford.

Rather, some of us realize that to use our grief toward positive outcomes for others is in itself immensely therapeutic…. and the only conceivable path for “a new day.”

So I say, carry on as best you can, healing more with each day looking forward and taking control of your life in the smallest of ways. To do otherwise, is giving power to the perpetrator(s) and sinking your soul into the abyss.