Fourteen victims of violence speak about the impact of their victimization, their experiences with the criminal justice system, and how the criminal justice system's response to their victimization could have been more satisfying.
The comments by the victims are presented under the following six topics: personal experience with crime; obstacles to reporting crime; victim safety and support; victim notification and participation; satisfaction with outcomes; and help, hope, and healing. The personal experiences of victimization include being battered and stalked, a daughter killed by a drunk driver, a wife and son murdered, being raped and beaten, an entire family assaulted, assault and armed robbery, kidnapping and rape, a son murdered, and domestic violence and child sexual abuse. The obstacles to reporting crime mentioned by the victims include a criminal justice system that does not care about victims, the shame and guilt associated with victimization, fear of the system and its unpredictability, and the frustration of dealing with the agendas of the system. Issues regarding victim safety and support are ongoing fear and sense of vulnerability to victimization, a mistrust of others, emotional stress, and a lack of constructive means of managing anger and the pain of loss of a loved one. Issues in victim notification and participation concern the importance of being informed about case processing, the need for advocacy and attention to victim needs for information and explanations, and an influential role in case processing and sentencing. Victims' satisfaction with outcomes pertains to a sense that justice has been done, which includes fair sentencing and means of compensating and meeting other victim needs related to the impact of the crime. Suggestions for helping victims include meeting with the offender to discuss the impact of the crime, being given a role in bringing justice to help remedy the harm caused, and having direction for how healing can occur.
Date Published: February 1, 2003