Prison Radio
Terri Harper

“What Victims Want.”

Anyone in our times that believes in forgiveness has undoubtedly wondered what victims want. I have, and with every heinous crime reported on one, my desire for insight grows. You assume that for most, it’s vengeance, support, feeling safe, and putting the pain of the crime behind them.

They likely make an attempt to mentally block out what happened. But science of circumstance usually proves that impossible, so the next step is usually to talk it out.

Therapy may not work for everyone, especially with the attached stigma. And hurt or traumatized people need to feel they’re being heard, so you hope they had someone they trust and feel comfortable with to vent to.

So how do we gauge or know what victims want and overcome what holds us back in order to disprove what a lot of our society is fed concerning crime or punishment, that we’re not redeemable after murder and mayhem?

Plans need to be put into effect so that actions become change realized, and actions beyond writing a letter of apology to the Office of Victim Advocate. What about when an apology letter is read and sparks the need for that line communication, which policy clearly and vehemently ruled out, being opened up, should the victim of a crime then be forced to deal with a bunch of red tape in order to reach heightened closure? I should hope not.

Vengeance is often described as justice, but justice personified would best materialize through a victim forgiving the personal persons who harmed them. In that, there’s a pathway to freedom reopened for those trying to be behind the follies of youth, the pressures of unhealthy relationships, and the blindness behind socioeconomical stereotypes and labels.

It’s the support and safety sought that undoubtedly leads to healing and forgiveness. But what about those who know of their victimizer living close by? Do they feel that that person needs to relocate? Because a victim most definitely should not be left to feel they need to uproot themselves and their families to leave trauma and tragedy behind. There has to be a better way.

As an offender, I’m not asking anyone to forget what I did or sweep numerous people’s pain under a rug. What I’m asking is for powerful influential people to recognize and stand for differences between malice and happenstance, long-term punishment and justice, disregard and forgiveness, and the band-aid over the healed wound and lawmaking, in an attempt to fortify and preserve strength, hope, and progress in our society now and for generations to come.

Please listen to our voices and act towards solutions that lessen the burden on society and families to include your own.

These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.