What is a Victim Impact Statement?
A Victim Impact Statement is a written or oral statement presented to the court at the sentencing of the defendant. Many times victims, their family members, and friends of the victim participate in both written and verbal statements. More often than not, numerous individuals write letters to the sentencing judge, and only a few of those directly connected to the crime speak at sentencing. Victim Impact Statements were created as an opportunity for the judge to hear how a criminal action has affected you and those that you love. Victim Impact Statements are not limited to the courts. Many times, probation or paroling agencies allow for an opportunity to present a statement as well.
How to Write a Victim Impact Statement?
As you are preparing your impact statement, you may find that using the following questions can guide you. Remember that writing about your feelings may be very painful, so be sure to pace yourself and don’t feel that you need to have it “perfect”. Be gentle with yourself and take as many breaks as you need. As you are preparing your statement, you may find that the following questions can guide you:
- How did the crime affect you and your family?
- What was the emotional impact of the crime on you and your family?
- What was the financial impact on you and your family?
- Do you have any recommendations for the court about the disposition (sentencing) of this case?
- Is there anything else you would like to tell the court?
The above guidelines do not cover the totality of the impact of crime but may be used as a starting point. Victim Impact statements are unique to you and people have various ways of expressing how crime has affected them. Even though guidelines are typically given to you before sentencing, and there is much flexibility in how you present your statement, there are things you will need to take into consideration.
When Creating A Victim Impact Statement Include This:
Write simply and descriptively. Your goal is to help the court feel your traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS.. While nobody can truly understand what you are feeling, you can help others identify with your trauma by using feeling-evoking words and phrases. Using descriptive words can help people form an image of what you are saying.
Scam Victim Impact Statement Example:
I was the victim of this person who deliberately manipulated me and stole my future in the cruelest possible way. He made me fall in love with a fake identity tht I truly believed was a real person, then manipulated me to drain my savings just so he could live a better life. Even at the end, he know how devestated I was when I found out and he just laughed and said I should kill myself. The loss of my savings means that I have no security in my future and I am now dependent on my family, something I never though I would. The trauma I have experienced from this has left me with long lasting PTSD and other psychological and emotional harm that I will live with all my life – all because this criminal wanted more bling.
- Do address the judge, or paroling authority, when you speak. Such as “Dear Presiding Judge Overseeing The Case Of …” You may want to talk directly to the offender. If this is something you want to do, ask permission from the judge first. You can still say what you need regarding the offender through the judge.
- Do ask permission if a picture is part of your statement. More often than not this is allowed, but any visual aids you utilize will need permission from the court first.
- Do write out your statement in advance. Presenting a statement is emotional. You may think you know what you want to say but when the time comes, your emotions could take over and your train of thought is lost. If this occurs, you can read directly from your statement.
- Do have an alternate person that can read your statement in case you cannot finish.
When Creating A Victim Impact Statement DO NOT Include This:
- Don’t directly express your angerAnger Anger, also known as wrath or rage, is an intense emotional state involving a strong uncomfortable and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, trigger, hurt or threat. About one-third of scam victims become trapped in anger for extended periods of time following a scam. A person experiencing anger will often experience physical effects, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Some view anger as an emotion that triggers a part of the fight or flight response. Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically. Anger can have many physical and mental consequences. While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of "what has happened to them", psychologists point out that an angry person can very well be mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability. toward the court or the offender. Your goal is to express your hurt and your pain, not to blameBlame Blame or Blaming is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong, their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. Blame imparts responsibility for an action or act, as in that they made a choice to perform that act or action.. The blame has already been placed on the offender, so now is the time to talk about what you have been experiencing through your loss.
- Don’t use unsuitable language, as it will diminish the effectiveness of your statement.
- Don’t describe what you want to happen to the offender in prison. Please do not get descriptive about any harm you would like to see imposed.
- Don’t put personal, identifying information in your letter and do not say it verbally in court. This includes your physical address, mailing address, email address and phone number. The offender will be provided copies of all letters submitted. If you state this out loud in court, it will be another opportunity for the offender to contact you in the future.
What Happens to your Victim Impact Statement? Do You Have to Read it in Court?
It depends on where the trial will be. If Nigeria for example, it is impractical to go there, so your statement is the only way you can be heard!
Preparing and presenting an impact statement in court, or in front of a paroling or probation agency, can be intimidating. If you do not think you can physically stand in front of the offender and read your statement, have an alternate in mind beforehand. It does not matter who presents your statement as long as you have identified this person in advance. Many times, victim advocates are asked to present impact statements. It does not have to be a victim advocate and should be someone you feel comfortable expressing your words.
If you submit a letter, this will become part of the court file, the prosecutor’s file, and the defense’s file. Victim Impact Statements can also be included in the offender’s Department of Corrections file. It could be subject to public disclosure. This is why it is essential to not include contact information in your statements, written or verbally.
Why Write a Victim Impact Statement?
It is not mandatory you write an impact statement. This is a right you have but not one you have to participate in. Many choose not to participate. There are several reasons why Victim Impact Statements are beneficial. The reasons stated below are just a few.
- The judge gets to hear your side of the story. This is usually the first time this occurs. Throughout the criminal justice process, the focus is on the offender. Hearing from those that are affected by the crime puts a face to an often forgotten victim.
- You have a chance to tell the judge how you want sentencing to occur. More often than not, cases conclude by a plea offer. Many times the prosecutor and defense have agreed to a recommended amount of time. The judge is not bound by that agreement. You can make a difference in the amount of time an offender receives by speaking up. This is true in cases that go to trial as well.
- You have the opportunity to address the court, and the offender by way of the court, about how the crime has affected you. Many find this helpful in the journey of victimizationVictimization Victimization (or victimization) is the process of being victimized or becoming a victim. The field that studies the process, rates, incidence, effects, and prevalence of victimization is called victimology.. Letting those know how they harmed you can be beneficial for emotional well-being.
- The impact statement becomes part of the offender’s permanent file. It is a reminder of the harm they caused you.
Where To Send Them?
Contact your local policeLocal Police The Local Police is your first responder in most countries. In most English-speaking countries and in Europe report to them first. In other countries look for your national cybercrime police units to report scams to. In the U.S., Canada, & Australia, you must report to the local police first. or District/State Attorney/Prosecutor’s office for how to submit one.
How To Submit Information To The EFCCEFCC Economic and Financial Crimes Commission The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is a Nigerian law enforcement agency that investigates financial crimes such as advance fee fraud (419 fraud), scams, and money laundering. The EFCC was established in 2003, partially in response to pressure from the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), which named Nigeria as one of 23 countries non-cooperative in the international community's efforts to fight money laundering. The agency has its head office in Abuja, Nigeria. In Nigeria
- In the case of foreign trials, such s with the EFCC – send them by email to the agency involved. Their email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Be sure to identify the defendant that this relates to
- Be sure to tell them that you wish to have your statement submitted to the trial judge for consideration during sentencing
- Include a section clearly identified as “Victim’s Impact Statement”
- Send a copy to us at SCARS so that we can also observe the EFCC’s actions and discuss it with them if needed. Our email address is: Contact@AgainstScams.org
- If you do not know who your criminal is, you can send a statement for any defendant that you choose. But include in the impact statement that you do not know who the criminal is that defrauded you, and you want to speak about the impact that all criminals that engage in this type of fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. have on their victims.
We wish you all the best in doing this.
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SCARS GREEN BOOK
Self-Help Self-Paced Recovery Program Guide
LEARN HOW TO RECOVER ON YOUR OWN
This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as trauma counselingCounseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". SCARS does not provide mental health counseling. or therapy, qualified support groupsSupport Groups In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers., or completely independent – on your own!
The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.
After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.
The SCARS GREEN BOOK will help you recover from your scam offline and it will always be there when you need it!
SCARS SLATE BOOK – Let Us Explain What Happened!
A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims
HOW TO HELP ROMANCE SCAM VICTIMS FOR FAMILIES & FRIENDS OF SCAM VICTIMS
This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. work and how to help the victim.
The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.
Each person is different and it is important to understand how relationship scamsRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.
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Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer
ORGANIZE YOUR INFORMATION TO MAKE THE REPORTING PROCESS SIMPLE!
Helps you get and stay organized. This publication is to help Scam Victims organize their crime information. Complete this information before reporting to the police then bring this book with you
Before or after reporting to the police the RED BOOK gives you a dedicated tool to record all the essential facts of this crime. The Victim, the Scammers, the Money, and your Police interactions. Everything that really matters can be easily recorded for your immediate use and for the future!
As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.
The Official SCARS RED BOOK is your way of recording all the important facts of this crime so that you do not lose essential information, Complete the RED BOOK then put it away with the confidence that you will have it if or when it is needed.
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By the Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Inc.
A Worldwide Crime Victims Assistance & Crime Prevention Nonprofit Organization Headquartered In Miami Florida USA & Monterrey NL Mexico, with Partners In More Than 60 Countries
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