Impact Statements: The Pain Behind the Words of Victim’s






“Victim impact statements are written or oral information from crime victims, in their own words, about how a crime has affected them. All 50 states allow victim impact statements at some phase of the sentencing process.”
~The Center for National Crime Victims


The Power of Victim Impact Statements

In my psychology victimology class last week, we were given the assignment to write a “mock” victim impact statement. Part of our research was to study victim impact statements; we were asked to watch a video in which a father read his powerful statement to the judge following the kidnapping, rape, torture and murder of his daughter, Channon Christian. It was utterly the most heartbreaking thing I have seen; I could truly feel this father’s pain and seeing it will remain with me for the rest of my life.  It was a powerful look into the life of his daughter, a father’s relationship with her, and the impact of his loss. This father and his family were also victims of crime, and watching this video was a prime example for the need of impact statements in the courtroom. It’s hard to put feelings into words, but this is the best opportunity for victims and families to share the impact the crime has had on them.

Allowing the person victimized, the ability to be involved in the judicial process is a very powerful tool for judges and prosecutors. When people say ” justice is served” can be unclear,  as what may be justice to a judge, may not be justice for a victim. It is up to the judge to apply the law, but it is also the job of the victim to provide the court with all the things that can not be learned.. but felt.

You can find Gary Christian’s victim impact statement [Online video] here:


“Everyone deserves to be heard, in order for changes to be made in law enforcement, courts, and corrections, it is going to take someone that is willing to listen.” 

Bracing for Impact 

As a victim of crime, this assignment was not difficult for me since I have written and read one in the courtroom before. However, pulling this letter out again brought back the anxiety and nervousness I felt on the day of my former boyfriends sentencing. Wednesday, September 16, 2015, is a day that is just as memorable as the day that led me to it. It took virtually two years to get to the sentencing day; the journey in-between being victimized and being vindicated was a long road.


Victim vs. Survivor 

The word victim and survivor are often used interchangeably. Depending on where the person that was victimized is at in their healing process, they are considered a victim or a survivor. Only God knows the journey that it took me (and all other victim’s) to get from “victim to survivor”. The only thing I can share with you is that it was an unbearable and extremely painful process that I would not even wish on my worst enemy.  Even though I am now considered a survivor, it is an ongoing process and you never truly “cross the finish line”, it’s an ongoing process.


“Once you have been victimized by any form of violence, you are and never will be the same.”

Small Voice: Big Impact 

The impact that violence has on our families, especially our children, is just as painful. Often, it’s difficult for the voices of our children to be heard in the midst of all the chaos, partly because it is hard for them to identify and articulate their feelings. Whether they were directly or indirectly harmed, recognizing their pain is just as important. My three children were not physically harmed,  but they walked away just as wounded as I did. Their entire lives and routines changed; they looked out windows, lost sleep and felt unsafe in their own home.  I am certain their experiences will always stay with them in ways that only time will show. They had the opportunity to write their impact statements and have them given to the judge; I admire their transparency and vulnerability to bear their pain in words, to someone they had never met. My 8-year old daughter Amaya wanted to have her voice heard, therefore, she stood up and read her statement that she (proudly) wrote all by herself.  Her voice never shook and  she stood proudly and courageously, making her mama proud!


8-year-old daughter reads victim impact statement in court after her mother was beaten.







Victim impact statement of 8-year-oldgirl.




















On September 16, 2015, at 9 AM, I walked into the courtroom a survivor, with a supportive group of family and friends by my side. Yet, I mentally and emotional had to go back to the days I had worked so hard to forget- the days that I was afraid, broken, feeling alone and ashamed; the days I struggled to find my voice and confidence. It was the day I had waited for, the day I could stand before the judge (and my abuser) and describe the dark place that the victimization had taken me and my family. I needed the judge to look into my eyes, see my pain, hear my voice and see I was a person, a mother, and a daughter…not just a docket and case number.

Following the reading of my statement on my way back to my seat, I felt the release- I could breathe, I felt the burden lift off my shoulders and the shackles fall from my ankles. It was a feeling I can only describe in one word “free”. Regardless of the sentence that would later be imposed (6 years) –  I was free and nothing else would have helped me to break free, but feeling like my voice was heard. After reading the statement, I had several prosecutors come up and share with me that they had never heard a statement quite like mine, and it left them with a lasting impression of the impact of a victim; it was in that moment that I felt the power that all voices, big and small could have.

My Impact Statement: 

Survivor of domestic violence reading victim impact statement during the sentencing of her ex-boyfriend.


Impact Statement of Domestic Violence Survivor

Click here for a link toview the courtroom video and news media footage.

Please visit the National Center for Victims of Crime for information on victim impact statements or Victim Support Services to get help and suggestions in writing an impact statement.


  1. Dikeledi Gunn

    I started living with my husband a year after we got married, within 4months he was already abusing, choosing where I should work and not to work, next month we will be married for 6years. And all those years he has been abusing me physically-kicking, punching,choking, spitting on me,ripping the hair off my scalp,verbally emotionally and financially,and one day beat me up and got on top of me to have sex with me,I said no and cross my legs too tight, he put his heavy knee between my thigh i felt pain to my bones and gave up at the end and he raped me and always did it when we indoors and keep me hostage in the house by laying on the floor in front of the door. Someday I managed to run but I couldn’t make it, he always catch. 04/30/2017 he choked me,didn’t remember what happened after then.Now he made me a criminal, I have a criminal case that the lied on me about and it make me sad that all my life I never done any crime but I came to live with him I’m now a criminal. I don’t know who can be here with me, I’m all alone with no emergency constant if something happen to me. I’m even ashamed to tell my family what happened to me.

    1. Marica Phipps (Post author)

      Hello Dikeledi,

      I am so sad to hear all that you have experienced and endured. 🙁 A woman is always in the worst danger at the end of a relationships / when she attempt to leave. My abuser also tried to make it seem as though I was the one that was responsible for my last assault and and that he was the victim. Its a very common theme that they do and tactic to manipulate the system unfortunately. There is nothing to be ashamed of sweetheart, there is so much strength in finding the courage to seek help. Help can be from your family or friends or from your support and advocate organizations that are thereto help you and many others like you in the same or similar situations. I am not sure where you live, but I am certain there are resources and people available to help you. I would be more than happy to help connect you to those resources if you would like to contact me personally at of via the contact form on the website.

      I will keep you in my prayers,


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